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We Want To Go Home!

A call for the immediate, safe and dignified return of IDPs and just compensation for Marawi Siege victims

We, Maranao leaders and members of various civil society organizations along with our partner communities from Mindanao belonging to the network called Marawi Advocacy Accompaniment (MAA) today call on the Philippine government to accelerate its efforts on rebuilding the City of Marawi and prioritize the immediate, safe and dignified return of the displaced communities and provide just compensation for Marawi Siege victims.

On the occasion of remembering those who have fallen during the siege four years ago, we once again stand in solidarity and mourn with the peoples of Marawi, who, up to this day, are enduring the profound and unceasing pains of that tragic incident that resulted to unnecessary loss of innocent lives, livelihood, displacement of thousands of families and reduced much of the once beautiful Marawi City to rubble.

A lot of promises have been made by the government and particularly by the Task Force Bangon Marawi, an inter-agency task force group tasked to facilitate Marawi’s rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction. Four years after the siege, most of the promises including providing just compensation for the damages of livelihood and properties of the affected families and the immediate return of the displaced back to Marawi remain unfulfilled. President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise saying that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again remains invisible and cannot be felt on the ground.

In particular, we demand transparency and accountability from the national government and the TFBM to make public all relevant and real-time information depicting the status, public spending, and other attendant issues on the Marawi rehabilitation since 2017. To achieve this, we urge the Philippine Congress to fast track and conduct public hearings in Marawi City on the assessment of the Marawi Rehabilitation by the mandated Senate and House committees.

Thousands of Marawi IDPs remain in temporary shelter communities and others are living elsewhere in tightly packed communities and squalid conditions, which make them more vulnerable to the continuing onslaught of the COVID19 pandemic. Also, some IDPs have migrated to the National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of the country. This multiple-displacement aggravated by the government’s slow rehabilitation and reconstruction program has deprived the bakwits of much needed opportunities for economic survival amid pandemic period.

It cannot be denied that the rehabilitation of Marawi City is now proceeding at a very slow pace despite the availability of government allocation for the reconstruction of Marawi. For us, the delays coupled with the neglect of the voices of communities in the city’s ‘ground zero’ contribute further not only to the trauma still being endured by the bakwits of the siege but also to the century-old narrative of marginalization, discrimination and exclusion and social deprivation in Mindanao.

It took five months for the armed conflict to destroy Marawi’s business district—the Dansalan of old—which was the center of Maranao life for centuries. Now, we can’t help but ask: How long will it take for the government to rebuild Marawi? When will the residents of Marawi be allowed to come home? If what’s happening in the whole management of Marawi’s rehabilitation and reconstruction including the prolonged displacement of communities is not negligence of the government’s sworn duty, what else should we call it?

Today, we also call on the Philippine government to urgently pass concrete legislations for Marawi’s rehabilitation, protection and compensation for the internally displaced persons. Enacting laws that genuinely reflect and recognize the fundamental rights and heroism of the peoples of Marawi is a critical step to help Marawi get back on its feet.

Remembering the Marawi Siege four years ago is a painful process especially for those who have lost their loved ones, properties and prospects for a better future. Truth, justice and accountability must be pursued within a transitional justice framework to comprehensively address the roots of conflict.

Rebuilding Marawi should go beyond building large-scale public infrastructures. Rebuilding Marawi is about rebuilding our lives. Rebuilding Marawi should mean rebuilding homes and livelihood necessary for the safe and dignified return of the IDPs to their beloved city. Rebuilding means retelling and addressing justice issues of the surviving families, children of those who have gone missing and died during the siege—who after four years remain unidentified and unnamed.

Rebuilding the city back to its old glory requires honouring and recognizing our heroism, our culture and faith, our optimism and resilience. Rebuilding Marawi should mean utmost recognition that #BakwitLivesMatter.

Community solidarity for safe and dignified return for MeraNOW! #MarawiKambalingan (30)

MARAWI ADVOCACY ACCOMPANIMENT (MAA)

  1. Ako Bakwit
  2. Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc (AMDF)
  3. Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc (BMFI)
  4. Bangsamoro Youth Coalition for Peace and Development (BYCPD)
  5. Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
  6. Duyog Marawi
  7. Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao – MSU-IIT Iligan City
  8. Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao – MSU Marawi City
  9. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  10. Kalimudan sa Ranao Foundation, Inc (KFI)
  11. Maranao People Development Center Foundation (MARADECA)
  12. Moro Consensus Group (MCG)
  13. Pakigdait, Incorporated (Pakigdait)
  14. Ranao Watch for Empowerment Network, Inc (RAWATEN)
  15. Reclaiming Marawi Movement (RMM)
  16. Reconciliatory Initiatives for Development Opportunities, Inc (RIDO)
  17. Siyap ko Pagtaw (Siyap)
  18. Thuma, Incorporated (Thuma)
  19. United Imams of the Philippines Foundation, Incorporated (UIP)
  20. May 23 Movement (M23)
  21. Mindanao Center for Resiliency (MCR)