Marawi ‘alive, booming,’ task force head says
The Philippine government on Tuesday disputed a Washington Post report which claimed that Marawi City remained a “ghost town,” more than a year after government forces took back control of the Lanao del Sur provincial capital from local terror groups.
“There’s no truth to what came out in the Washington Post, because everyone we’ve talked to has questioned why it was referred to as a ghost city,” said Eduardo del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, the agency leading the rehabilitation of the city after a five-month war between government soldiers and groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Del Rosario said Marawi was “full of economic activity,” contrary to the image depicted in the Feb. 1 report.
The article said “Marawi looks almost as it did when the bombs and bullets stopped flying in October 2017” and that none of the debris was cleared, with no new structures built.
Del Rosario said the depiction of Marawi as a “ghost city” was “too off tangent with the truth and reality in Marawi City.”
“When we speak of a ghost city, we think of a place abandoned by the government and nothing is happening. This is not true,” he said. “Business activity, economic activity and the movement of people — so many vehicles are going to Marawi City and this triggers economic activity.”
Del Rosario said only 250 hectares of Marawi’s total land area of 8,000 ha were considered the “most affected area” or ground zero of the fighting.
“It was dramatized too negatively. We would just like to say that the reality on the ground is that it’s not a ghost city, but instead it’s full of economic activity, he said. —Julie Aurelio
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