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MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, May 23, urged the government to end “3 years of inaction and neglect in Marawi,” which continues to be in ruins since terrorists laid siege on the city on May 23, 2017.
Robredo said in a statement on the 3rd anniversary of the Marawi siege that “to this day, the city lies in ruins, and its people’s lives are frozen in time” as many residents continued to live in temporary shelter communities long after the battle.
“Three years of inaction and neglect in Marawi is a thousand days too long. We call on all concerned agencies to accelerate their actions while exercising full transparency,” she said.
The Vice President added, “Marawi is not merely a tragedy to be remembered; it is an ongoing problem that needs to be solved.”
She noted that Marawi residents living in shelters faced another challenge – the coronavirus threat.
“Let us also remember that temporary shelter communities pose an even more profound challenge given the virality of COVID-19. Any outbreak in these tightly-packed communities will increase the risk for all of us, and affect a public health system that is already under tremendous strain,” Robredo said.
In a separate statement, detained Senator Leila de Lima also cited the slow pace of the government program to rebuild the city.
“Remembering this bloody encounter still brings pain to our affected countrymen, but what is more saddening and disappointing is the people of Marawi’s continued suffering with worsening poverty and dispossession, human rights violations and a still ongoing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn city,” De Lima said.
On May 23, 2017, local terrorists allied with the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) attacked Marawi City, prompting a military operation that lasted for 5 months and turned the bustling city into a ghost town.
The siege led to the imposition of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2019, supposedly to aid in the rehabilitation efforts.
Based on the Mindanao Displacement Dashboard of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of April 2020, 25,355 families or 126,775 individuals are still displaced in various parts of Lanao province and Marawi in the aftermath of the 2017 siege. (READ: Marawi residents still hope to return to home after 3-year wait)
Adding to residents’ concerns are plans to set up a military camp in Marawi, which local officials are also opposed to.
Task Force Bangon Marawi had promised in March 2019 that the displaced Marawi residents would be able to return home by September 2019. – Rappler.com