Gutoc, Tañada listen to issues of Marawi City residents

Bobby Lagsa
Gutoc, Tañada listen to issues of Marawi City residents
Her fellow Maranaos ask Otso Diretso Senate candidate Samira Gutoc what's delaying the rehabilitation of Marawi

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippine –  Liberal Party senate bets Samira Gutoc and Erin Tañada campaigned in Marawi City on Thursday, March 28, meeting with close to 200 internally displaced persons in Area 1 in Barangay Sagungsungan in Marawi City.

Samira, a civil society leader and former Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner, was warmly welcomed by her fellow Maranao who are undergoing a prolonged displacement due to the Marawi conflict.

The IDPs, civic leaders, and politicians met the 2 LP stalwarts who were the first Senate bets to visit and campaign in the Islamic City in Lanao del Sur.

Instead of giving long speeches, the two gave short impassioned messages. They opted to listen to issues and answer questions from the crowd.

VOICES. The Maranao women identified with Otso Diretso candidate Samira Gutoc. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Gutoc has long been a voice of the Maranao women. In recent years, though her voice is more resounding – empowered, passionate, critical and intellectual.

Maranao women from different sectors gravitate towards Gutoc for they spoke the same language and aspirations.

Gutoc questioned the delayed Marawi rehabilitation project which has long been pushed back for different reasons.

Ever since the end of the Marawi siege, tens of thousands of Maranao still languish in a dire situation.

Gutoc said that rehab delayed is rehab denied from the Maranao people.

“Let us make sure that the development plan is not development aggression. It must have people’s participation,” Gutoc said.

Maranaos have complained that the development framework in the rehabilitation of Marawi lacked the people’s participation.

Gutoc said that the Marawi story is the story of the Moro people.

“Marawi is the symbol of all the wars done to us,” Gutoc said.

Tañada said that if the government did not consult the people, “then this would be a development failure,” Tañada said.

Tañada said that people need to fight corruption, “What happened to Marawi attracted the attention of the whole world. Many wanted to help, but we need to consult the people. We need humane rehab,” Tañada added.

“I really wanted to come here in Ground Zero to give our gratitude to those who gave up their lives in the Marawi siege. But two years have passed and this is still not their normal lives,” Tañada said.

Both LP bets also asked what most Marawi residents have been asking: Where are the billions of pesos donated to Marawi? 

“There should be transparency on the spending. Where are the donations for the people? Where is the rehabilitation?” Gutoc asked.

Gutoc also demanded that the rehabilitation program for Marawi must be included in the 2019 General Appropriation Act which is the general funding for the government.

Tañada added that billions have been poured into the rehabilitation plan and it is time the people see something concrete.

LISTENING. Otso Diretso Senate bet Erin Tañada listens to the residents of Marawi City.  Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

“While they have no homes, employment and decent livelihood, the more they are drowning in the quagmire of poverty.” Tañada said.

“If this government is serious in ending rebellion, they should address poverty, lack of land rights and discrimination against Moro,” Tañada added.

Qualities of leader 

First time Maranao youth voters said during the LP campaign that they were looking for leaders who can speak for them and address the issues the youth is facing today.

“We want our leaders to give focus their attention not only to our education but also poverty and the lack of access to work,” said 21-year-old Omelkhair Colalo.

Colalo and several friends including siblings Jalani and Dayamon Gumal came to listen to the campaign.

Colalo also echoed what most Maranaos were asking – compensation for the damages the Marawi siege has done to them. “So we can start to rebuild our lives through businesses,” Colalo said.

Jalani Gumal said that honesty is an important factor in choosing candidates. “How can you vote for someone who has no integrity? If they said something, they should stand by it,” Gumal said.

Ashmer Ala said that this election is an opportunity to show their real situation. Ala said that she is a supporter of Duterte but it does not mean that she will be voting for the president’s bets.

Ala said that it is not the party that she is looking at, but the track record of the candidates.

“People should think about it already. Why would should you gamble our future?” Ala asked.

“On the question of honesty, if youre sincerity is questionable, honesty is very important, it is upon ourselves,” Yasmin Ali, a friend of Ala said.

“On every status, on any level of politics, honesty is required, because if one cannot be honest now, if you make us fool, what can we get from you in the future? This is our future we are talking about,” Ali said.

Marieta Salvanera, an employee of the Local government unit of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte said that in selecting elected officials one must look at each candidates qualifications and character.

“We should look for (one who is) service oriented and (has) work dedication. Not just beginners, one must show their legacy and not just talk, they should show their plans and programs,” Salvanera said.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, on the other hand, said that politicians should really be transparent especially those who were accused of  misusing their pork barrels.

“These charges on the misuse of the pork barrel, I’m surprised why it took so long for them. Candidates are now running again even if there are allegations against them. But I think all the more, the people must be the one to protect what is the truth and what are the consequences if we just follow our own inclination without looking at the records of everyone,” Ledesma said.

“If they say they don’t mind being dishonest, I think you should scratch them away from your list. Without honesty, how can you serve well for the common good?

Ledesma also gives advice on smear campaign initiated by some politicians, “Smear campaign is counter-productive. The more you smear people, the more it will go back to you also. What is important is to focus on your own positive achievements. And to let the people decide on that and not on smearing other people,” Ledesma said. – 

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