Robredo: Marawi conflict rooted in poverty; people must be empowered

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2021 05:06 PM | Updated as of Oct 18 2021 06:59 PM

Vice President Leni Robredo attends the launch of Bangsamoro for Leni, a support group of Muslim women supporting her candidacy for next year's election, during her visit to Marawi City on Monday, 18 October 2021. Robredo visited the previously war-torn city as the fourth anniversary of the end of the siege nears on October 23. Handout, OVP
Vice President Leni Robredo attends the launch of Bangsamoro for Leni, a support group of Muslim women supporting her candidacy for next year's election, during her visit to Marawi City on Monday, 18 October 2021. Robredo visited the previously war-torn city as the fourth anniversary of the end of the siege nears on October 23. Handout, OVP

MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday said poverty was at the heart of the siege by pro-Islamic State militants that left the southern city of Marawi in ruins four years ago and that its people should be empowered. 

"Ang pinaka-buod noong plano, bigyan ng mas maraming boses iyong mga taga-rito," Robredo said, when asked what she would add to the southern city's rehabilitation if elected president in 2022.

(But for me, the gist of the plan is to give more voice to the residents here.)

Marawi residents, she said, should have a "voice" on the proposed compensation for them and all rehabilitation processes. 

"Iyon lang iyong tanging paraan para iyong mga saloobin nila magkaroon ng platform na kabahagi sila sa pamamahala. Alam natin kung ano iyong ugat ng lahat na problema rito. At iyong ugat ng lahat na problema rito iyong kakulangan talaga ng empowerment, iyong poverty," the Vice President said in a chance interview in Marawi. 

(That is the only way for their sentiments to have a platform so they could be part of governance. We know where all problems are rooted here. And the root of all problems here is the lack of empowerment, poverty.) 

"Dapat iyong programa, lahat iyon ma-address. Hindi siya puwedeng i-address na parang mas reactive lang tayo," she added.

(The program should address all that. We cannot just be reactive.)

The 148-day occupation of Marawi ended on Oct. 17, 2021, with some 1,000 people, mostly rebels, killed in battle and the heart of the city of 200,000 leveled by air strikes.

ROBREDO DENIES WOOING VOTES

Robredo denied she has been visiting southern provinces in recent days to build up support for her 2022 bid for the presidency. 

"Kahit sinong tanungin mo rito, kahit pa iyong political capital ko rito maliit, iyong Mindanao isa sa pinaka-binigyan ko ng emphasis mula noong naging Pangalawang Pangulo ako," she said. 

(Whoever you ask here, even if my political capital is small, Mindanao is one of the areas where I gave emphasis since I became vice president.)

Robredo said her office spearheaded various programs in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, portions of Misamis Oriental, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Peninsula, and other areas. 

"Kadalasan, iyong mga lugar na malalayo, iyong lugar na mahihirap, ito iyong masyadong walang access. Ito iyong wala masyadong access sa tulong. So for the past 5 and a half years, saksi iyong mga tao rito na halos native ako rito," the Vice President said. 

(Usually, far-flung areas, poverty-stricken areas have no access to help. So for the past 5 and a half years, residents here have witnessed that I have been almost a native here.)

"Siguro naantala lang iyon noong pandemic because of the travel restrictions, pero ngayon na nag-ease na iyong travel restrictions, balik na ulit ako sa dati kong ginagawa. So may eleksyon, walang eleksyon, alam nila na nandito ako," she continued.

(Perhaps that was just delayed by the pandemic because of the travel restrictions, but now that they have eased, I will maybe return to what I have been doing before. With or without elections, they know I have always been here.)