The continuing delay of rehabilitation efforts in Marawi aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic provides fertile ground for a new wave of terrorism in the country, Senator Imee Marcos said.
Marcos issued the statement on the third anniversary of the Marawi Siege, which coincides with the start of Eid ul-Fitr, celebrating the end of fasting during Ramadan.
“Our military is overstretched. We may render them inutile, ordering them to be Covid frontliners assisting in the delivery of medical and food supplies, on top of keeping the peace in troubled zones. Many anti-government forces could take advantage of the situation and the frustration of Marawi’s homeless,” Marcos said.
“Marawi will remain volatile as long as its residents are condemned to be ‘bakwits’. Let them go home soonest, three years’ exile has been an eternity!” Marcos added.
Military clashes have occurred in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu with terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, as well as remnants of the Maute Group whose leaders were captured during the five-month siege in 2017 that reduced Marawi City to ruins.
“The lure of rebellion is strong. International terrorist groups like ISIS are reported to be recruiting disgruntled young Muslims with the promise of monthly salaries and aid to their families,” Marcos said.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on cultural communities, has proposed via Senate Bill 410 to use part of a vast military reservation area to grant land titles to Marawi residents who lost their homes and businesses during the siege.
“President Duterte has the power to grant this. It will cut the Gordian knot of having to reconstitute land and property titles to which the Maranao tradition of deep family trust and keeping one’s word are not really accustomed,” Marcos said.
“The requirement of such legal documents continues to prevent thousands of displaced Marawi residents from reclaiming and rebuilding their homes and are the main cause of delay in Marawi’s rehabilitation,” Marcos added.
Marcos’s bill also seeks to set up a more permanent Bangon Marawi Council, citing that the present Task Force Bangon Marawi has repeatedly missed its deadlines and that “complete rehabilitation will take decades.”/Stacy Ang