Gutoc, Alejano: Marawi City still a ‘ghost town’
MANILA, Philippines — Marawi City remains a “ghost town.”
This was the assertion of opposition senatorial candidates Samira Gutoc and Gary Alejano on Wednesday, as they belied the claim of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chair Eduardo del Rosario,that the war-torn area was “alive and booming” and not a “ghost town” like how The Washington Post said in its February 1 story.
“Ghost talaga. It is ghost when you have the commercial capital in Marawi City nasunog at hindi mo pa naibabalik after 20 months,” Gutoc, a civic leader who hailed from Marawi, said in a press conference in Quezon City.
“We depend a lot on Marawi’s commercial site na nasunog at hindi pa rin nagsa-start (ang rehabilitation). What martial law are you talking about? Hindi na-marshal ang development para sa poorest of the poor,” Gutoc asserted.
Soldiers at risk
Magdalo Rep. Alejano, meanwhile, warned that soldiers would be in peril especially if disenfranchised residents would fall prey to Islamic State (ISIS) recruiters because of their frustrations triggered by the delay in the Duterte administration’s promised rehabilitation.
“I’ve been to Marawi, ‘yung mga tao nandun pa rin sa mga evacuation centers, sa mga tents. Sarado ang most affected area,” Alejano said.
“Hindi na sila nagagalit sa ISIS na nawalan ho sila ng bahay dahil ang nang-bomba dun ang gobyerno. So ang sundalo rin ay nababahala na pag hindi natin na-address ‘yung pagbalik sa normal nung buhay nila, ang sundalo rin ang tatamaan ‘pag nag-rebelde itong mga kapatid nating Maranaw dahil sa kabagalan ng isyu ng construction,” he lamented.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Del Rosario belied the claims of The Washington Post’s article titled “Philippine forces cleared this city of Islamist militants in 2017. It’s still a ghost town.”
“We would just like to say the reality on the ground na ito ay walang katugmang nangyayari on the ground na ghost city siya but instead it’s full of economic activity,” Del Rosario argued.
The TFBM head stressed that the most-devastated area in the city was only 250 hectares as opposed to the city’s total area of 8,000 hectares.
“Two hundred fifty hectares is just .03 percent of the total area of 8,000 hectares. Mukhang masyadong na-dramatize negatively (ang situation),” Del Rosario claimed.
On May 23, 2017, the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked the Islamic city of Marawi in Mindanao, destroying public infrastructure, private properties, livelihood sources, and displacing thousands of Marawi residents from their homes.
After government forces successfully regained control of the city and killed known international terrorist Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the administration declared the city liberated from terror forces on October 17, 2017. /kga
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