By FROILAN GALLARDO,
MARAWI City — Desperate residents of this predominantly Muslim city demanded that they be allowed to return to their ruined homes, two years after Islamic State-linked militants were defeated by troops.
More than 200 residents and students staged a rally at the city park airing their plight of living in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years.
They later marched to the provincial capitol, two kilometers away, to press members of the House Subcommittee on Marawi Rehabilitation to conduct an investigation on Task Force Bangon Marawi, the lead government agency for the Marawi rehabilitation.
“It is not easy to live in a tent with five children. It is hot and the tent is small for us,” Farina Pagazad said.
Pagazad said they have lived in an evacuation village designated by government agencies as “Blue Tent” since they were driven away from her house in downtown Marawi City in 2017.
She said she used to have a sari-sari store, a small computer store, and “ a good life for a mother of five children.”
“All of that is gone now and here we are. We do not even know if we can go back to our house. I do not even know if I have money to start a new life,” Pagazad said.
Hundreds of residents aired the same complaint during the public hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Marawi Rehabilitation chaired by Amin Rep. Makmod Mending held at the gym in the provincial capitol in Marawi City.
Marawi leader Drieza Liningding said he is demanding an investigation why Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) has yet to start the reconstruction more than two years after the siege ended.
Liningding also called for the resignation of TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario if residents are unable to return home.
“I want some accountability. The residents have suffered enough,” Liningding said.
TFBM conducted a roadshow on Monday and Tuesday before the public hearing Wednesday.
They also raffled 34 slots for free Hajj trips to Mecca for Marawi residents. Each of these trips is said to cost P200,000.
Del Rosario said can finally return to their villages to repair or rebuild their homes by the first week of September 2019 after the debris clearing is done by Aug. 30.
He said they have resolve many issues in the reconstruction including the much-debated land ownership thanks to new surveying technology provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Liningding said he would hold del Rosario to that statement.