• Melo Acuna

No liberation from poverty yet

Majority of Marawi resident still reeling from poverty, uncertainty

MANILA – After three years of the so-called Liberation of Marawi City, the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, an autonomous monitoring group, said no real liberation has taken place.

In a statement released Saturday, the group said most of the victims have bot been allowed to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

“There has been no compensation for the damages to their personal properties as thousands of us remain in shelters and housing projects in dire conditions, with sanitation and supply of basic utilities wanting,” they said.

The group admitted some of them have benefitted from the government programs, “the majority of the people haven’t.”

“The sad fact remains that progress is slow, funds are lacking, and implementation could be improved. We are fractured and restoring relationships is difficult when we cannot even meet our basic needs adequately,” they lamented. All these, the MRCW said, fuel despair and frustration that threaten the fragile peace in their communities.

They admitted tensions rise over land and property rights as reconstruction activities begin. The mentioned conditions may worsen the existing identity-related conflict and may even trigger violent flashpoints and a stringing of conflict which they described as “a situation ripe for the resurgence of violent extremism, the thing that the government declared to have liberated the people from.

They have attended legislative and executive processes where they acted as resource persons where they underscored the needs at the grassroots. A day before the Third Anniversary of the Liberation of Marawi city, the House of Representatives approved on final reading the proposed P4.056 trillion national budget for 2021 or House Bill 7727 which is also known as 2021 General Appropriations Bill to boost recovery efforts from the onslaught of COVID-19.

They have asked if the government would still attend to the displaced families and entire communities in Marawi City who remain in shelters faced with the risk of virus infection and stigma of being Muslims, displaced and associated with terrorists.

Lanao del Sur ow has 697 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of end-September where 354 or 50% of the cases are from Marawi City. The same statement disclosed 111 or 72% of the 153 active cases are from Marawi City.

“The impact of COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer to our hardship and suffering and reinforce existing vulnerabilities, threats and risks,” they said.

They said as of August 2020, the government has only released P22.2 billion for Marawi City rehabilitation which they said less than a half of the total funding requirement of P60.5 billion.

“The dismal amount on top of issues on disbursement and absorptive capacity in the past paint a bleak picture for us all. With only 16 months left of the 2021 year-end deadline of completing reconstruction projects, can the Duterte administration still deliver on its promise that Marawi will rise as a prosperous and peaceful city again?” they asked. (Melo M. Acuña)

Photos taken from Marawi City from destroyed structures to temporary shelters . (Melo M. Acuna)

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