MANILA, Philippines – A year after local terrorists launched attacks on Marawi City, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman urged families who lost everything during the siege to band together to make sure that the 5-month war would never happen again.
Hataman issued the message to mark the first year of the May 23 Marawi siege, when the ISIS-linked Maute group and Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon attempted to carve their own territory and establish an Islamic caliphate in the predominantly Muslim city. (READ: The war in Marawi: 153 days)
“As we struggle and work towards rebuilding the city of Marawi, we must also strive to rebuild the foundations of local leadership and reestablish safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our communities. In our efforts towards healing, we must go back to the core of our faith as Muslims and, as we fast together as we honor the Holy Month, we must remember that with every hardship comes relief,” he said.
“Marawi will rise again, and it will rise with the renewed strength and courage of our people,” Hataman added.
Clearing operations in the city, which was declared liberated from terrorist influence in October 2017, are targeted for completion by June 15. Malacañang had expressed satisfaction with the rehabilitation of the city so far.
In his statement, Hataman called for unity among Marawi residents to overcome any threats to peace and security.
“As we have done in response to every threat our people have faced, we must stand united with our brothers and sisters. The price of peace, as we have learned throughout our history, is constant vigilance. We cannot afford to let this happen again, and this requires collective effort towards securing our homes, our cities, and our region,” he said.
The ARMM chief also stressed the importance of education and dialogue in preventing conflict and fighting terrorism.
“Peace and security is achieved not only through law enforcement and state offensives, but through constant dialogue that seeks to engage each and every Bangsamoro,” Hataman said.
The rehabilitation work inside the former battle area in Marawi City will begin as scheduled in June, despite some delays in the proposed contract with a Chinese-led consortium, according to the government.
The contract to rehabilitate 250 hectares inside the former city proper is estimated at P17.2 billion ($332.91 million). (LOOK: Gov’t illustrations of Marawi rehabilitation plan) – Rappler.com