MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The battle in Marawi reaches a critical point on Thursday, August 3, about two weeks after martial law in Mindanao was extended. The battleground has narrowed, but local officials and evacuees fear that the humanitarian crisis here will escalate as their resources run dry. MovePH editor Voltaire Tupaz reports from Marawi City.
Government forces are closing in on the remaining 50-70 members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group, containing the terrorists on the edge of the city near Lake Lanao. But they also see the need to prevail in another battleground.
Voltaire Tupaz, reporting:
“We’re in the middle of the beautiful and calm Lanao Lake, but further behind us is Marawi City.
You can still see smoke rising after the airstrikes this morning. Now we’re on our way to Bubong town where soldiers are going to distribute relief goods because for them, the battle here is not just to fully retake the city but to win people’s hearts.”
From Marawi, we crossed the tightly guarded lake to reach the isolated town. In Bubong town, troops distributed sacks of rice and school supplies.
Capt. Joa-Ann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command Spokesperson:
Nakita po kasi ng ating ng ating mga officers, ng ating mga ground commanders, ang pangangailangan na madala po agad dito ang mga relief goods…There are about 2,700 IDP families na nandito na mga taga Marawi City. Pati rin yung mga nandito pala ay naghihirap din – yung mga residente rito – kasi yung hanapbuhay nila ay apektado rin.
(Our officers, our ground commanders saw the need to immediately bring relief goods to this town. There are about 2,700 internally displaced families from Marawi City. Residents here are also poor because their livelihoods have also been affected by the conflict.)
19-year-old Ramonah, who has 10 siblings, is thankful her family received relief goods from the troops, but she laments that their houses in Marawi were among those destroyed by the airstrikes.
Ramonah Serad Limgas, Internally displaced person from Marawi:
“Mahirap po talaga ang manirahan dito lalo na’t evacuee ka. Syempre yung sa Mindanao (Marawi) dalawa ang bahay namin at nasunog daw at natamaan ng bomba. Lalo na kaming maraming magkakapatid. Yung business namin nawala pa. Kaya mahirap talaga.”
(It’s really difficult to live here especially if you are an evacuee. In (Marawi) we have two houses but it was burned down and hit by a bomb. I have many siblings; our business is now gone. So it’s greatly difficult.)
Ramonah asks the government to also send doctors, medicines, and drinking water for the evacuees, whose number has already reached about 360,000, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Sana po, tulungan ‘nyo po kami hindi lang po sa relief kundi sa mga pangangailangan ng mga bata, matatanda na may mga sakit kasi dito po, lalo na ‘yung mga nakatira dito sa munisipyo, dito nag-evacuate kasi karamihan nagkakasakit tulad ng nasabi ko kanina. ‘Yung tubig dito hindi healthy.”
According to local officials, two kids have already died in the evacuation center due to diarrhea. Another person died from asthma. They fear that the humanitarian crisis here will escalate as their calamity funds run dry. In this protected battle, civilians are on the losing end.
Voltaire Tupaz, Rappler, Marawi City.