September 23, 2019
CURRENT AFFAIRS

‘Summer of discontent’ builds up for Ground Zero IDPs vs. Task Force Bangon Marawi

Updated, March 20, 2019, 9:22 a.m. for second batch of winners of free hajj slots

A “summer of discontent” appears to be building up for the thousands of Ground Zero internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

On March 18, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) kicked off a well-attended dialogue with the IDPs to hear them out, let their voice and grievances be heard.

The NCMF headed by Secretary/CEO Saidamen B. Pangarungan organized the meeting attended by over 2,000 of the 25,000 IDPs of Ground Zero, now euphemistically dubbed “Most Affected Area” (MAS), as the Marawi siege of 2017 nears its second anniversary on May 23, 2019.

His dialogue initiative with the IDPs put into focus again the suffering and pain consuming and continuing to impact the ‘”bakwits” (Moro term for evacuees).

Pangarungan’s presence assured the IDPs they are not forgotten and that the NCMF is doing its share in responding to their well-being and needs.

It can be recalled the Marawi siege broke out between government forces and ISIS-allied Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group (MG-ASG) militants that lasted about five months.

In the aftermath of the fighting a report released by the Philippine Daily Inquirer placed the number of people killed at 822 terrorists; 163 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilian slain (without including missing persons), and more than 1,700 troopers wounded.

Meanwhile, the number of displaced residents from Ground Zero and nearby areas reached an estimated 230,000 IDPs.

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NCMF Secretary/CEO Saidamen B. Pangarungan as he assures his fellow Marawi City residents, particularly the ‘bakwits’ from Ground Zero they are not forgotten.

The dialogue initiated by the NCMF and development team focused on the 25,000 IDPs.

Initial results of the dialogue, based on a report by Dr. Dimapuno Alonto Datu-Ramos, Jr., director of Bureau of External Relations (NCMF-BER), not surprisingly, showed the IDPs’ discontent with how the government has so far responded to their nearly two years of suffering — destroyed or damaged houses, businesses went up in ashes, properties gone, school children uprooted, economic and livelihood a huge struggle.

But it seems one of the biggest thing for them to hurdle is the torture playing in their restless minds. Will they ever be able to get their properties, their houses, their lost or stolen treasures, their home lots?

Their self-respect, their confidence, their sanity.

What’s keeping the national government, local government units (LGUs), and particularly Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) from implementing a speedy recovery and rehabilitation program?

Surely, there are reasons and there are processes to be followed by the authorities, particularly TFBM headed by Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, who is also the head of the Housing and Urban Development and Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

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Some of the ‘bakwits’ or internally displaced persons (IDPs) residents of Marawi City.

Can the IDPs wait? Do they have a choice, under these trying times?

Meanwhile, “summer” is almost here in the country and discontent is not far behind as far as the M’ranaw IDPs are concerned. Well, the IDPs are not just Muslims, there are also Christians who have lived and co-existed peacefully with their fellow Marawians.

And discontent and frustration there are, in the air and in the minds and in the hearts of the affected people.

“After almost 2 (two) years of living as IDPs, the Marawi City residents have begun to express their dissatisfaction with TFBM,” was the observation Datu-Ramos made in his post on Facebook.

it seems that’s one of the reasons the NCMF conducted the dialogue, to alleviate the IDPs “fears” — about being forgotten.

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At the dialogue, Pangarungan joined the panel for the consultation with the IDPs conducted at the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium of Lanao del Sur.

Aside from the NCMF secretary, the panelists included del Rosario, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, and representatives from the Philippine Army, National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Datu-Ramos said TFBM “is a convergence of multiple government agencies and the LGUs.” In fairness, he said, the task force was quick on its feet, as it “began relief and rehabilitation efforts once the siege was declared over, and is still in-charge up to this day.”

Pangarungan is the current Sultan of Madaya. He revealed that his sultanate had 12 barangays (villages) that are “most affected.”

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Need we say more?

The NCMF secretary “mentioned the relief plans being offered by foreign governments and private groups. This includes the offers of various Muslim countries to rebuild the mosques/masjids (Islamic house of worship) once the plans have been prepared.”

In relation with the IDPs’ plight, Datu-Ramos said that “del Rosario had pledged through the NCMF 32 free hajj slots to be raffled off to the IDPs.”

The first batch of the lucky hajj recipients are: Normina M. Lantong, Ubaid A. Tantuas, Mangorangca Orogan, Saadudin Mauntol, Al-hassan Ampac, Ombraan C. Maandoga, Norhailen Deguro, Sahara Hadjisaid, Alixar Jaber, and Soraida Sumander.

Subsequent raffle draws will determine the complete winners of the free hajj.

Here’s the second batch of winners drawn on March 19, said Datu-Ramos.

They are Sohra M. Gambao, Nor Hosni A. Mabaning, Widad Ibrahim Mahdi, Rasmea Daurong Salic, Haneya M. Yusoph, Tanambae H. Macataman, Nasser Dimakuta, Arlene M. Manalundong, Mangotara Dangcal Maniri, and Arifah Pukunum Abdulhamid.

The NCMF-BER head said the third and final batch of 12 IDPs for the free hajj slots will be drawn soon to round off the 32 slots from TFBM.

He said upon the request, on behalf of the IDPs, of lawyer Ramayana “Mayan” Saidamen-Basman for immediate financial assistance, del Rosario “responded with the promise of Php73,000 per family recompense for the qualified IDPs from the funds of the DSWD” to be released in the first week of April.

Pangarungan’s another initiative for the IPDs was his draft of the Marawi Reparation Bill which Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri filed on August 24, 2017. The bill which recommends Php30 billion to assist the residents of the Marawi is pending in Congress.

Among the updates given by other government agencies at forum include “clearing operations of un-exploded devices, housing arrangements for the evacuees, livelihood efforts, management of the relief items being distributed, and the mapping of the MAA.

Per the report of Datu-Ramos:

  1.  Former Ambassador Atty. Macabangkit Lanto suggested the recategorization of the most affected areas and the least affected areas for purposes of being able to return to their houses and achieve sense of normalcy.
  2. During the open forum, Atty Ramayana “Mayan” Saidamen-Basman had spoken in behalf of the IDPs, and had shared that the most important concerns of the IDPs were having a sustainable livelihood, and a reliable water supply. She had thanked the government for all the efforts, but also reminded the panelists that there is still much to be done.
  3. Secretary del Rosario had reminded the IDPs that procedures have to be followed in the delivery of rehabilitation goods, but have assured them that August 30, 2019 marks the end of the clearing operations. He asked for three things from the IDPs, namely patience, understanding, and support, in order for the rehabilitation to succeed within the given time frame. He had promised Php73,000 per qualified family from the MAA which they will receive by the first week of April, as well as completion of 4,500 temporary shelters by the end of the year.

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Datu-Ramos said the dialogue “had eased the volatile emotions of the IDPs” even as Pangarungan thanked del Rosario for giving updates on the work of TFBM and the 32 free hajj slots.

The dialogue continues today, March 19. (EKU)

All images courtesy of NCMF-BER.

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