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Marawi families should be allowed to return home 3 years after siege – LP

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 11:27 PM May 23, 2020

HOPE AMID RUINS Residents in 24 Marawi villages that make up the center of the five-month battle between Islamic State-linked gunmen and soldiers in 2017 are hoping to rise from the ruins as the government starts the city’s rehabilitation. (File photo by RICHEL V. UMEL / Inquirer Mindanao)

MANILA, Philippines — The 80,000 families displaced by the Marawi siege should be allowed to go back hom now that three years have passed since the city was liberated, the Liberal Party said through its president, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, on Saturday.

Saturday happened to be the eve of Eid’l Fitr, the Muslim celebration at the end of Ramadan.

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“We are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the celebration of Eid’l Fitr,” Pangilinan said in Filipino in a statement. “This is a different kind of celebration because there’s a lockdown in place because of COVID-19. This has made their lives worse since 2017. We still remember the broken lives and livelihood of our Muslim brothers. Until now, they haven’t experienced the rehabilitation efforts of the government.”

On May 23, 2017, government troops clashed with terrorist forces of the Maute Group of the Abu Sayyaf, who were joined by foreign jihadists. The battle lasted for five months until the city was officially liberated on Oct. 17.

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Pangilinan cited reports from nongovernment organizations working in Mindanao saying that official records of government efforts to rebuild the city had yet to be made public. 

“We cannot understand why the government is still not allowing us to go home. That’s what they’ve been telling us,” Pangilinan said, paraphrasing the sentiments of the displaced Marawi residents.

I hope that they are allowed to return so they can go on with their lives and with their livelihood,” he added.

Pangilinan said that he supported the three recommendations of Mindanao-based NGOs on the rehabilitation of the city’s residents.

The suggestions were a formal partnership between government agencies and NGOs, like the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch.

Following are the three suggestions:

  • Assign an NGO to function as a monitoring group that will regularly report to Congress on status of the reconstruction and rebuilding of Marawi
  • Pass a bill compensating all Marawi residents whose lives were shattered, as well as private schools, hospitals and other organizations providing essential public services
  • Allow donated items to be exempt from customs duty tax and offer financial incentives for affected businesses such as private schools and hospitals

“In the middle of this challenge, we thank Allah for guiding us to the truth and kindness,” Pangilinan said. “Following the time of renewal and reflection, may we emerge with a peaceful mind and stronger faith to face the challenges ahead. Humbled by this pandemic, may we come out more compassionate and hopeful people as we proceed to our next journeys.”

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/atm

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TAGS: displace Marawi residents, Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party, Marawi, Marawi siege
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