By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – Officials and workers of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) staged their monthly Tuesday “People’s Day” in this war-ravaged city to welcome and assist the first batch of evacuees allowed by authorities to return home after more than five months of refuge in Iligan City and elsewhere.
The ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) came in full force with truckloads of relief goods, which Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman and his cabinet members distributed in symbolic ceremony at the city hall vicinity here.
ARMM-HEART volunteer-physicians and paramedics also rendered medical and psychosocial services for close to 2,000 young and adult refugees belonging to the first batch of internally displaced persons (IDPs) allowed by authorities to return to nine barangays since Sunday.
The cluster of nine villages included Datu Saber, Barrio Green, Luks-a-Datu, Panggao Saduc, Tampilong, Matampay, Poblacion, East Basak and Malutlut, which all have a population of over 7,000, said Myrna Jo Henry, ARMM-HEAR media liaison specialist.
The nine barangays underwent priority clearing operations as the areas where government forces engaged first the Daesh-inspired militants of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in the first week of firefight that began on May 23. The first volley of gunfire erupted particularly at Barangay Malutlut.
The ARMM “People Day” began yesterday morning with a flag-raising ceremony at the city hall area led by Mayor Majul Gandamra joined by provincial and ARMM officials with the attendance of IDPs freshly transported from their evacuation camps in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City and elsewhere.
At the half-day long event, ARMM Vice Governor Haround Al-Rashid Lucman, concurrent regional Social Welfare and Development secretary, also released the remaining P4,000 of the P5,000 government-promised cash aid to each of displaced families.
Henry said the ARMM “People’s Day” event actually served some 2,000 evacuees from East Basak and Malutlut, explaining that the IDPs from the seven other villages in the first cluster were due for ferry by government facilities yesterday.
Mayor Gandmra, in his message at the event, expressed optimism on the government-promised reconstruction of his city and on the recovery of some 400,000 displaced people from Marawi and adjacent towns in Lanao del Sur.
In separate statement, Lanao del Sur Governor Soraya Alonto-Adiong acknowledged the assistance of private and public sectors for the welfare of IDPs since May 23, appreciating as well the vital contribution of government forces in the liberation of Marawi City from Daesh-inspired militants.
Hataman, for his part, assured that the ARMM government would continue to provide assistance in the rebuilding of life and structures in Marawi City.
He underscored the need for all sectors to work together in preventing violent religious extremists from regrouping in any part of Lanao del Sur or in ARMM after their heavy defeat in this city.
“We need the support of our religious leaders and the academe towards this goal. We need the help of all Muslim and Christian communities that suffered from the conflict we have just witnessed,” Hataman said.
Tags: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), clearing operations, internally displaced, Manila Bulletin, Marawi evacuees, rebuilding, reconstruction, Returning Marawi evacuees served during monthly ARMM ‘People’s Day’
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