Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, October 18, paid tribute to victims of the 2017 Marawi siege as she renewed calls for the rebuilding of the war-torn city 3 years after it was liberated.
In a message commemorating the end of the months-long battle, Robredo recalled the struggle of soldiers and residents who were displaced by intense fighting.
“We remember the innocents who lost their lives in this conflict. We honor our soldiers – those who exhibited courage and determination during those dark, dangerous months, especially those who fell, making the ultimate sacrifice for peace,” Robredo said.
She continued: “Liberation entails much more than silencing the gunfire. Today we remember the Marawi we lost, even as we renew the call for a more urgent approach to the rehabilitation process, and recommit to the rebuilding of a more peaceful and prosperous city.”
The Marawi siege, where Philippine military fought against homegrown terrorists backed by the Islamic State (ISIS), had been the longest and bloodiest Philippine military operation since World War II.
In October 2018, national and local officials stepped foot in the ravaged city to hold a groundbreaking ceremony that marked the start of rehabilitation efforts. The ceremony was a significant milestone after months of delays had put off the immediate reconstruction of the war-torn city.
Three years after the end of the war, however, reconstruction efforts have yet to be completed while thousands of residents remain displaced. Government officials also continue to face the difficult task of addressing the radical ideology that allowed the local armed groups to recruit members among residents.
On Sunday, Robredo acknowledged this, saying the city has yet to reclaim any semblance of normalcy.
“The siege may have been lifted, but the Marawi of today reminds us: violent extremism remains among the biggest threats to society. And to truly address it, frustrations must be met with compassion. Empowerment must become the foremost imperative. Equitable and inclusive progress must be achieved for the people of Marawi,” she said.
Earlier in August, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairperson Eduardo del Rosario said the government was working double time to meet its deadline to reconstruct facilities in Marawi by December 2021.
Del Rosario said while rehabilitation had been “somewhat slowed down” by the coronavirus pandemic, the government will complete reconstruction efforts within the term of the Duterte administration. – Rappler.com