A week is too short a time to write about everything that is happening in Marawi City. There are too many concerns, but these do not hamper the work that the civilian government as well as the military have to do in the besieged city.

I haven’t had time to visit any of the evacuation centers because my companions from the military and I have been busy shuttling to and from Marawi and Cagayan de Oro City even as of writing to collect donations for the troops from various volunteer groups, organizations and individuals.

Travel time would be at least six hours to and from Cagayan de Oro City, if travelling with or in military vehicles. Otherwise, the almost kilometric line of vehicles would add more than an hour to travel time. Passengers in buses and other civilian vehicles would have to alight at checkpoints and submit themselves to inspection then walk a few meters under the heat of the sun or in the rain before boarding their vehicles again at some point after the checkpoints.

Potable water remains to be a most precious commodity among the troops in Marawi. Fortunately the donors know this and have prioritized donating bottled water. Our soldiers thank all the donors, with special mention in this instance to the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen courtesy of Glenn Edward. Dael and his friends and partners, as well as to siblings Amy and Joyce Alvarez (daughters of the Palawan governor) and their friend Mic Amene-Barrientos.

Donations and assistance in various forms continue to pour in, although I suggest more donations of bottled mineral or purified water to the troops. “Sometimes we could only give one hundred pieces of 350 ml. bottled water to a company (composed of more or less 100 men), or 1 bottle per soldier,” said 1Lt Jeff Balante of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, who doubles as the chief of his own unit, the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, and as a logistics officer of sorts of the entire regiment. He facilitates the collection and distribution of donations, aside from his main tasks.

There are more issues and concerns that need immediate attention. Suffice it to say for now that despite the efforts of government to provide for the needs of its soldiers and the civilian populace, the support and assistance of volunteer organizations and individuals are needed more than ever. BEEN THERE DONE THAT/JOSEPHINE CODILLA


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