16 November 2017
In the third interfaith humanitarian mission to Marawi led by Kalinaw Mindanao, people’s organizations from Canada, the US, Australia and other Asian countries under the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, responded to the call to bring in relief, medical and to document reports of human rights violations and situation of Meranaw evacuees who have returned to Marawi City.
Nearly five months after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao and an all-out war in Marawi that displaced almost 400,000 residents and brought heavy damages to lives and properties due to military airstrikes and encounter with the ISIS-inspired groups, he finally declared the “liberation” of Marawi which signalled the return of evacuees and the start of the city’s rehabilitation.
However, not nearly half of evacuees have returned to their homes due to government’s restriction such as not allowing civilians to go back at areas declared as ground zero, requiring an ID system based on voter’s registration, requiring land titles and imposing the Presidential Decree that says Marawi is a military reservation. For those who did return, they were devastated at how their homes were destroyed by military airstrikes and looted by both the ISIS-inspired groups and the Philippine Military.
The international interfaith humanitarian delegation is concerned at the initial rehabilitation programs presented by the Philippine government that favor foreign and local investors and loaded with foreign loans. With two international lending companies – World Bank and Asian Development Bank – taking the lead in planning the city’s reconstruction combined with President Duterte’s Build Build Build program, rehabilitation efforts are directed towards gaining profit from the war and devastation rather than to bring back Marawi residents.
At the ASEAN and East Asian Summit, East Asia governments have lauded the President’s response to the Marawi siege and firmed up more strict security measures to confront terrorism. This raises alarm at how the victims of human rights violations in Marawi and the whole of Mindanao due to the military airstrikes and Martial Law declaration will find justice.
The International Interfaith Humanitarian Mission will take place on November 15-17 in Iligan City and Lanao del Sur with the aim to serve at least 2,000 IDPs, help empower and organize survivors and victims of internal displacements and all-out war in Marawi, document and collate the human rights situation in Marawi, express interfaith solidarity and unity with IDPs and other victims of human rights violations, and formulate recommendations on how to address the rehabilitation of communities impacted by all-out war in Marawi.#
Jerome Succor Aba, Kalinaw Mindanao spokesperson, +639168448508
Peter Murphy, Chairperson, Global Council, ICHRP