Tent cities, mass graves readied as gov't troops clear Marawi

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The provincial government of Lanao del Sur is finalizing plans for tent cities for the possible return of the internally displaced residents of Marawi city once the armed conflict with local terror group Maute is over.

The Marawi siege began on May 23 when soldiers wanted to capture Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon but the failed operations turned into a bloody war with terrorists, causing the displacement of almost 200,000 people.

Brigadier General Ramiro Manuel Rey, commander of Task Force Ranao, said they are now coordinating with the local government unit leaders for the recovery and rehabilitation plans of Marawi City.

During a visit to an evacuation center in Iligan City on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the government has set aside a P20 billion rehabilitation fund for the reconstruction of the city.

Rey said that plans for the tent cities and the mass grave are almost done.

“We still don’t have count on how many bodies to be interned at the mass graves,” Rey said.

SMOKE IN MARAWI. Smoke rises as ground combat between government troops and the Maute Group spreads onto 4 fronts. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler.

It is estimated that at least 268 enemies have died almost a month after the war started, though the army has not shown or recovered bodies of terrorists killed.

The fighting between troops and terrorists has already spread on 4 fronts, with the government taking over control of territories and dividing and isolating the terrorists from each other. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)

The fighting also is already far away from the 3 bridges, Banggolo, Mapandi and Pumping, which were crucial positions.

Volumes of fire in at least 4 fronts were observed by media covering the war here.

Lt. Colonel Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said troopers are clearing houses of Improvised explosive devices and are marking houses that were cleared.

The clearing and marking of houses would ensure that no IEDs will be left behind that could potentially injure or kill civilians once they are allowed to return home.

“We clear house from IEDs and war materiel, this is what we do when we clear a building, we need to look and remove dangerous materials and at the same time mark cleared houses for safe passage,” Herrera said.

Herrera also said that the based on their intelligence, there are between 100 to 110 terrorists and 100 hostages used as human shield left inside the war zone.

“We have moved forward with recovery and control of strategic areas and enemy resistance is waning,” Herrera said. – Rappler.com