ILIGAN CITY – Despite the onslaught of Typhoon Vinta in Mindanao, rehabilitation efforts for Marawi trudges onward with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), various peace advocates, stakeholders, and locals of the Islamic City, 27 December.

In a forum initiated by the Office of the Regional Vice  Governor-ARMM entitled “Post Marawi Conflict Multi-stakeholders’ Peace Dialogue”, around 80 individuals from the Bangsamoro community, mostly from the youth sector, gathered to contribute to policies, which the ARMM government will devise for the city’s restoration.

ARMM Regional Vice Governor Haroun Alrashid A. Lucman Jr. shared his sentiment on bridging Marawi’s peace and development through constant dialogue.

“We’re trying to make sense of what’s happening precisely why we invited all these experts so that together we can share common sentiments and ideas on how we can come up with a better stand, because this is a very serious situation that we have. Terrorism is a phenomenon that is very destructive to humans, regardless of what religion we carry,” Lucman Jr. said.

Likewise, OPAPP Executive Director Diosita T. Andot shared OPAPP’s conduction of peace conversations and the importance of emotional healing and recovery among the residents affected by the conflict —particularly the internally displaced persons (IDP) — and their role as core elements in rebuilding Marawi.

“Marawi City is not just the beautiful location by the lake that we remember.  The city is its people, its culture and beliefs…it is made of families and clans and individuals who had been hurt not just because they lost their belongings and loved ones but because their relations are torn apart, forced to live in places that are not their natural and comfortable habitat, and the future remains bleak to them,” she said.

“Being peace advocates enables us to connect better to the people afflicted by the war. That emotional connection – believe me – contributes to the healing of our brothers and sisters much more than what basic necessities can provide,” expressed Andot.

Furthermore, the OPAPP Undersecretary urged everyone to take a more proactive role in the Bangsamoro government.

“Let us not depend on our leaders to give us this new era of peace and prosperity for our territories. Because if we will not take action, then it will not solve our problem,” Andot added.

Simultaneously, OPAPP also remained to spread the Holiday spirit in Barangay Sta. Elena as families temporarily situated in home-based shelters received gifts and hygiene kits – a continuation of the solidarity activity that happened last December 16 to 17.

Over 300 recipients, some were affected by the flood of the recent typhoon, had their basic needs provided and their morale boosted by the peace agency.

Sisters Aisah and Aidah Dianalan expressed their glee for the goods’ precise timing.

“Ngayon lang po kami nakakuha ng gifts. Sobrang makakatulong po ito sa amin kasi nawala na nga yung gamit namin nung nagka-giyera sa Marawi, nawala pa po yung iba nung nagbaha sa tinutuluyan namin” (It’s the first time that we received gifts. These will be very helpful because we lost our belongings when the Marawi conflict happened, then we lost some more when flood came to our shelter,” said 12-year-old Aisah.