MANILA, Philippines – Frustrated residents from areas which saw the heaviest damage during the Marawi siege challenged Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chairman Eduardo del Rosario to resign if he would not be able to fulfill his promise that residents may be able to return home this year.
Marawi community leader Drieza Lininding put forward the challenge during a dialogue between residents and government officials held in Lanao del Sur on Tuesday, March 19. A video of the exchange showed Lininding asking the displaced residents whether or not they were satisfied with rehabilitation efforts so far.
“Satisfied po kayo o hindi? (Are you satisfied or not?),” Lininding asked. “Hindi! (No!),” answered the people in the crowded gymnasium. (READ: Residents to gov’t planners: Build better Marawi for us)
“Huwag kayong masaktan, sir (Don’t be offended, sir). We want some accountability…. Most of us here, we lost everything, we left it all in the MAA (most affected area), and now we want some accountability and responsibility. Kung hindi po matuloy ang August 30 (If the August 30 target is not met) nothing personal, sir, will you resign as chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi?” he asked Del Rosario.
Mindanews reported Del Rosario telling Marawi residents from its most affected area they may be able to return home in September 2019 as the clearing of debris was expected to finish by August 30, 2019.
Del Rosario initially told residents they may be able to rebuild their homes before 2020.
Marawi ghost town? ‘That’s a lie’
Lininding also said some residents took offense after hearing Del Rosario claim Marawi City was “alive and booming” during a press conference in Malacañang last February 19.
Lininding said residents wanted the rebuilding of Marawi City to be considered a “national priority,” with government providing the necessary support. (READ: Marawi mayor appeals for more livelihood programs)
Responding to this, Del Rosario said it was not right to say Marawi was a ghost town just because the city’s most affected area could not be reached by residents yet.
“Anyone would claim that this is a ghost city. None of you would agree to that because you know that you are moving, you are alive, you are conducting business and government is doing something for Marawi City,” Del Rosario said.
The Marawi task force chair then hit efforts to portray the city as a ghost town as “black propaganda.”
“We are doing our best to rehabilitate Marawi City, but for you to agree that this is a ghost town? And that the government hasn’t done anything from the very beginning? My God, that is a lie. And I cannot agree to that,” an emotional Del Rosario said.
Efforts to reconstruct the war-torn city have been plagued by delays.
The groundbreaking itself, which marked the beginning of the city’s rehabilitation, was moved at least 5 times. Many residents were also confused with what activities were taking place and which firms were involved.
Hearing residents’ grievances, Del Rosario appealed to them to remain patient with government, saying success could be measured by the “unity” in the community.
“Success can be measured by the unity of all of us. All Marawi residents, those in government, the civilian sector, we must be one…. Lalong kakawa ang future generations kapag i-dramatize natin ang reality on the ground (Future generations will suffer if we dramatize the reality on the ground),” he said. – Rappler.com