Excitement and worry as evacuees in Iligan return to Marawi

Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2017 06:25 PM

Johaira Lucman prepares to return to Marawi City with her family as authorities allowed residents to gradually return to the city, the battleground of a five-month conflict between government troops and Islamic State-inspired extremists. Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

ILIGAN CITY - Johaira Lucman was a little restless minutes before she boarded a van commissioned to bring her and her family back to Marawi City from the evacuation camp in Baranggay Buruun here.

They were among the second batch of evacuees allowed to return to the war-torn city this week.

While camp managers had prepared them emotionally days before today, Lucman said she could not help but feel excited and wary at the same time. 

“I’m worried that at any time, the group (Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists) would regroup and we would have to flee again. How will I bring all my things again to the evacuation [center]?,” Lucman said.

Still, Lucman did not change her mind about going. And for other evacuees who live in barangays severely damaged by the firefights, it was tough to see others leave ahead of them. 

“How could this not be painful for us? They get to return while we stay here, but perhaps it is also God’s will that their home was not destroyed,” evacuee Omar Dimaporo said.

Meanwhile, those who rented homes in the battle area were not allowed to go back as Task Force Bangon Marawi continued to fine tune a mechanism to verify their identities. 

Housing Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr., field officer of the task force, said renters were to watch out for, especially as the extremists that laid siege on the city were only transients and not permanent residents.