Displaced families mark 3rd anniversary of Marawi siege with online ‘rally’
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Unable to gather physically to commemorate the third anniversary of the siege of Marawi City, displaced residents took to social media to air their renewed demand for them to be allowed to return home.
Moro Consensus Group leader Drieza Lininding said quarantine protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus limited members to gathering online.
Lininding said they started the #balikMarawi campaign a week ago, urging netizens to change their Facebook profile pictures on May 23 as a show of solidarity to the cause.
“We do not want to be forgotten. We have suffered long enough,” Lininding said.
He noted that some 6,000 people have endorsed the campaign within a matter of days.
To renew the people’s high interest in the fate of the city, the campaigners posted photos of the devastated commercial district, a landscape of destroyed buildings, and images of the dire situation in the families’ temporary shelters.
Thousands of residents, still homeless up to this time, are living in temporary shelters. Not one family was able to return to their old homes and communities.
Those living in temporary shelters struggle with problems in access to clean water, among others. The cramped quarters also lead to issues of personal space, making it hard to observe the physical distancing precaution.
“For three years we were homeless. We are again demanding that the government sped up the process of our return,” Lininding said.
Nongovernment organizations Pakigdait Inc. and Initiatives for International Dialogue organized a forum via Zoom that featured Marawi leaders and Maranao civil society personalities.
Bangsamoro Parliament leader Zia Alonto Adiong said the ongoing preoccupation with battling the coronavirus pandemic should not be an excuse for forgetting the government’s obligation to rebuild Marawi.
However, he acknowledged that work to rebuild the city had been on standby because of the pandemic.
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