HomeNewsChurch, rights groups demand 'clear plan' for Marawi four years after conflict

Church, rights groups demand ‘clear plan’ for Marawi four years after conflict

An estimated 17,446 families, or 87,230 individuals, remain displaced four years after the Marawi conflict

Church and human rights groups in the Philippines demanded for a “clear plan” for people who were displaced by the 2017 conflict that devastated the southern city of Marawi.

On Sunday, May 23, Marawi residents marked the fourth anniversary of the so-called Marawi siege that displaced close to half a million people at the height of the shooting war.

An estimated 17,446 families, or 87,230 individuals, remain displaced four years after the incident.

Father Dionito Cabillas, lead convenor of the group Isaiah Ministry, said residents of the predominantly Muslim city “should be allowed to go back to their lands.”

“[They] must be given compensation for the damages,” said the priest of the Philippine Independent Church.

“There is no reason why the government prevent the people of Marawi from reclaiming their lands and restoring their lives,” he said.

A supporter of people displaced by the 2017 shooting war in Marawi City in the southern Philippines raise a placard during a demonstration in Quezon City in Metro Manila on May 24, 2021. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Many residents of Marawi, especially those who used to live in the “most affected areas” of the conflict, are not still allowed to go back home because of ongoing clearing operations.

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Father Cabilllas called on the government to compensate residents for “loss of livelihood, homes, and lives.”

“The people of Marawi have suffered enough,” he said.

In a statement, the group Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination, said the government’s rehabilitation efforts in Marawi are full of “empty promises.”

“Many civilians – mostly women, children, and elderly Meranaws – were forced to live in cramped evacuation centers, with very little water supply nor clean washrooms,” read the statement of the group released on May 24.

The group noted that many displaced people have migrated to other cities to seek a “safer” environment.

“The promises made by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte remain buried into the rubbles,” read the statement.

The group said the 2017 siege not only aggravated the already poor situation of the people of Marawi, but also took their dignity as part of the Meranaw tribe of the Bangsamoro people.

“While trying to rise back, they were left unassisted by the Duterte government,” said the group.

A study published by research and advocacy group INCITEGov revealed that over 18.69 billion pesos in national government funds were spent in the past four years for the recovery of Marawi City.

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