MARAWI CITY —- President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. vowed to fast track the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country’s only Islamic City and usher in sustainable development and long-lasting peace to its residents.
This, as national, local government and military officials gathered here on Tuesday, October 17, to commemorate the sixth year anniversary of this city’s liberation from the clutches of ISIS-inspired terrorist groups in 2017.
In his message delivered by Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. during a ceremony to honor the 168 soldiers and police officers who perished during the siege, President Marcos expressed his unwavering commitment and solidarity with the Maranao people.
“I am one with you in raising the banner of peace, inclusivity, and prosperity over this land, and over the next generations who will build and inherit its dynamic legacy,” President Marcos said.
“Rest assured, my dear fellow Filipinos, that this administration will strive to achieve the goals we have set for you and your city. The government will expedite the completion of all the Marawi rehabilitation projects and process all the claims with utmost urgency and responsiveness,” he added.
The five-month battle to free Marawi from its captors left the city in ruins and forced its residents to seek refuge in evacuation centers. A massive rehabilitation and recovery program is being carried out by the national government to bring the community back on its feet.
Peace will always prevail
“In the face of extremism — of twisting hate and violence guided by personal and political interests — we witnessed something remarkable and inspiring: people looking out and caring for one another, regardless of their position in society, tribe, or religion,” the President stressed..
“Despite all the pain that we suffered and endured as a people, we still proudly celebrate this anniversary, for it brings to the fore something worth remembering and fighting for: that peace will always prevail. And it will prevail especially when we remain resolute in our commitment, solidarity, and faith for the nation,” the President said.
The nation’s commander-in-chief also lauded the military and police for their “sacrifice and utmost dedication to their duty to protect the Maranao people, ensure their safety, and bring peace to their homeland no matter what the cost.”
“Here, we saw the steadfast dedication of our military and police forces who left their families behind to battle the terrorists, and reclaim the future the Maranao people rightfully deserve. Here, we saw how Muslims and Christians did not limit their understanding, kindness, and assistance to those of the same faith, but, instead, freely gave their compassion, support, and love for their fellow humans. Here, we saw what it meant to respect people’s diversity and unite for the good of all. Here, we saw what it means to be peace-loving Filipinos,” President Marcos pointed out.
He also acknowledged “passionate groups and individuals who tirelessly work to uplift Marawi and make it the bustling city it used to be.”
“If the accomplishments, changes, and promises that come with this year’s celebration highlights anything, I hope that it underscores our unceasing dedication to help our Maranao brothers and sisters achieve peace, security, and normalcy. Much remains to be done despite all that we have accomplished. So, I hope that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to the noble tasks that still lie ahead of us,” the President underscored.
Continuous work, unwavering commitment to peace
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Romeo Brawner, Jr. likewise reaffirmed the AFP’s commitment to protect the Maranao people, as he cited the military’s efforts to help provide essential services to communities such as the construction of a water tank within the city’s Most Affected Area.
“It brought many memories…Not of death and destruction but of courage, compassion, and resilience. If you go to Marawi now, you will not see destruction but progress,” he said.
According to Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, “the people of Marawi have shown strength and resilience,” characteristics which, he said, truly defines the city.
“Together we will rebuild [the] spirit and soul with the heroism and resilience that unfolded, which brought us together as a community. With bayanihan and your unwavering commitment, together we can give a brighter future for Marawi City,” Gandamra stressed.
Lanao del Sur First District Representative Zia Alonto Adiong, chair of the Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Recovery and chair of the Oversight Committee on Marawi victims’ compensation, said he will continue to push for an increase in funding for the city’s rehabilitation, as well as remuneration for residents affected by the siege.
Former Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Member of Parliament Atty. Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, chair of the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB), bared that the Php 1 billion pesos which has been allocated as compensation for the victims shall be fully disbursed by year-end.
Dandamun-Latiph said that Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman has been working closely with the MCB to ensure the victims’ claims are processed and approved as quickly as possible.
She said the DBM understands the importance of compensating the victims as soon as possible so that they can rebuild their lives.
Repairing the torn social fabric of society
Through its Social Healing and Peacebuilding Office or SHAPE, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) continues to hold peace conversations in this once conflict-stricken city as part of its peacebuilding efforts in the area.
“We have made sure that all our peacebuilding interventions adhere to the principles of nonviolent conflict resolution, multi-stakeholder cooperation, and strategic communication with the goal of building more peaceful, progressive and resilient communities. By promoting the culture of peace, we seek to empower individuals with an increased sense of responsibility towards helping others, and in doing so, encourage them to become agents of peace and positive change,” Galvez said.
The peace adviser noted that aside from helping to rebuild the lives of residents who were affected by the siege, these peace conversations sought to encourage people to continue supporting OPAPRU’s peacebuilding interventions in their communities.
He said that since these peace conversations were conducted in the city, its residents, particularly women and the youth, have shown their capacity to play active roles as peacemakers, mediators, and peacebuilders.
These peace dialogues, Galvez said, have encouraged open, participatory discussions on key issues relating to the Maranao peoples’ aspirations as individuals, as well as for their families and communities.
“However, in order to achieve genuine and long-lasting peace, reconciliation and unity, it is important to carefully look into the root causes of conflict, violence and division. We have to confront pressing issues such as inequality, injustice, and discrimination head-on and find ways to address them in the best way possible. We also need to acknowledge and learn from past mistakes, commit to never repeating them again, and work towards a common vision for the future,” he explained.
“Ultimately, peace is something that we must work towards both individually and collectively. By creating a culture of empathy, understanding and respect, we can help to build our communities where peace is not just a distant ideal, but a reality that we can all experience.” Galvez emphasized. ###