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Now Reading: MARAWI CONFLICT | Three years after the siege, Marawi residents still waiting for reconstruction as virus threat looms
MARAWI CONFLICT | Three years after the siege, Marawi residents still waiting for reconstruction as virus threat looms
May 23, 2020 , 07:45 PM

May 23, 2020 – Three years after a conflict that left Marawi City in ruins, the 200,000 residents are still waiting for the long-delayed reconstruction despite billions of pesos of aid and budget for the rehabilitation efforts.

On the third year anniversary of the pro-Islamic State Maute group’s attack on the country’s only Islamic City, not a single resident has returned to the 23 barangays destroyed by five-month conflict.

Calls for the completion of adequate shelters in Marawi City became more urgent as another disaster threatens the Maranao people – the deadly coronavirus disease.

“The threat of COVID-19 makes the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Marawi City all the more urgent and necessary,” Zia Alonto Adiong, a regional assemblyman of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) said in a Twitter post, “Respond to the needs of those who are displaced without adequate shelter and access to basic infrastructure needed to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Vice President Leni Robredo also called for a speedy rebuilding effort, saying “To this day, the city lies in ruins, and its people’s lives are frozen in time. Many of its residents remain in temporary shelter communities.”

In a statement on Saturday, Malacanang said the National Housing Authority has programmed a total of 4,866 transitional shelters–2,911 of which are occupied as of January. The remaining housing units, which are in different stages of completion, are expected to be finished before the year ends.

But Adiong said Marawi residents want permanent shelter in the site of the ruined city.

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said the government is targeting to build 3,580 units of permanent shelter to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Only 165 units are occupied but none in the destroyed city center.

Robredo raised concerns with the temporary shelters, as these could spread the infection of the novel coronavirus disease, “Any outbreak in these tightly-packed communities will increase the risk of all of us, and affect a public health system that is already under tremendous strain.”

According to the Department of Health (DOH) tracker, nine coronavirus cases have been tallied in Lanao del Sur as of April 24. Three have died, while six have recovered.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Mapandi Bridge, the center of the initial clashes, is 100 percent complete.

REMEMBERING MARAWI

The five-month long siege began on May 23, 2017 when soldiers and police officers tried to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group (ASG). The failed operation led to a full blown conflict as the ASG had allied with the ISIS-affiliated Maute group, looking to establish a caliphate in the region.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law to suppress the rebellion The military dropped bombs, fired rockets and pounded with heavy artillery and mortar to flush out the militants As a result, the city was destroyed, including Maraw’s Grand Mosque.

The siege ended five months later with the recapture the city and death of Hapilon, the Maute brothers, and more than 1,500 militants and civilians. A total of 168 soldiers and police officers lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.

(Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)

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