MANILA, Philippines – Amidst the conflict in Marawi City, the Mindanao State University (MSU) will finally reopen on August 22, said the Philippine military.
“The opening will be on the 22nd of August and once the 800 Balik Eskuwela students are ready, we will help facilitate [their return] by providing transportation to help bring them to the campus,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a Palace press conference on Friday, August 18.
The AFP said it was safe to reopen MSU since it is far from the main battle area in Marawi which has been reduced to “slightly over half a kilometer grid square.”
Previously, stray bullets would fly into the campus because of fierce gun battles near the area since the siege began on May 23.
While MSU is “relatively safe,” Padilla said soldiers will remain stationed in the campus to provide security.
The students who will be transported back to MSU are those who lived in the in-campus dormitories.
“They are in a safe zone that is open for them to come back. They will get their community back again,” said Padilla.
Despite the reopening of MSU, he said Marawi residents are still not allowed to return to their homes. Only those residing in municipalities surrounding the besieged city are encouraged to go back.
Local government units have been given a list of towns where it is safe for residents to return.
Because it is 6 kilometers from the main battle area, many of the in-campus residents did not evacuate when fighting between terrorists and government troops erupted on May 23.
Local officials urged the military to allow MSU to reopen in August.
MSU president Habib Macaayong told Rappler up to 8,000 college and a few postgraduate students have enrolled for the new school year. “They are not afraid,” he said.
As of Friday, the military said some 50 to 60 terrorists remain in the city holding an estimated 30 hostages. – Rappler.com