The bigger challenge now looms in the horizon as the siege of Marawi comes to an end. Rebuilding the beautiful Islamic City from the rubbles of destruction and its people from the horrendous saga of fright and terror must now commence. It will take some time and the task is an arduous one.
Peace maker, Sec. Jesus Dureza, is in the midst of the horrible spectacle. He will not be able to pursue his talks with the CPP/NPA. This week he and Irene Santiago, who sits in the negotiating table with the MILF, are busy setting up those non-combat corridors to allow civilians trapped in the war between invading Maute/ISIS terrorists. They came at the time when jittery nerves of the combatants from both sides are edgy. But they forded through anyway hoping to save more lives from the continuing firefight that seemed to be endless. They saved scores of haggard, hungry and terrified men, women and children young and old. Their stories were dreadful and some awe-inspiring. Muslims took care of Christians some their friends and neighbors, some strangers who happened to be there or escaped there when there is nowhere to go. They came face to face with blood thirsty Mautes. They acted as husbands for the women and wives for the men.
As I write this piece, I was told by a friend that the military is now doing clearing operations. Every house has to be searched. The order of President Duterte is to crush the last Maute in Marawi. In addition, the military has to be certain there are no explosives planted in every nook and corner of each house when this will be re-occupied by the evacuees.
By all indication, the terrorists had planned the attack of Marawi some time ago. They have dug up a maze of tunnels for their escape route and stored arsenals in them.
While the war was going on and military and police and civilian casualties mounting, hundreds of miles away, in the safety of their offices and homes, political oppositions march to the Supreme Court to order the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao. What a shameless irony. The resurrected Rene Saguisag and a number of lawyers argue there’s no rebellion and invasion taking place in Marawi. Risa Hontiveros, for her part, went on nationwide TV and rattled off: “The Mautes are not invading Marawi and the residents of Marawi are not mounting a rebellion against the government”.
Hontiveros wants martial law lifted and before her tireless peroration could simmer down the patriarch of the Maute terrorists was caught sneaking through the cordon in Davao City. They attempted to enter Davao City bringing with them explosives and oodles of money.
Hontiveros, a senator of the Republic of the Philippines, was not hiding her praises for the Mautes. I need not elaborate on that. Her interview with Daniel Razon of UNTV is still alive on Facebook. To stonewall her absurdity and save her from further verbal flagellation a retinue of moribund opposition defenders pounced on the bungling and faltering DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre for mouthing erroneous information. His fake hair piece was not even spared.
The past weeks had been nightmarish. There is so much to be done. It is about time that we come to the aid of Marawi. It is about time for local government units to spare a few thousand or million pesos to rebuild the city. Multi-millionaires and giant corporations should come to the aid of Marawi and its people.
Once in the annals of war history, there was created a Marshall Plan, a recovery program to bring back a badly devastated Western Europe after World War II. Why cannot we have one? Let’s call it Marawi Recovery Initiative (MRI). And because he is there and had an impeccable record of rebuilding farming communities in war-torn Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sulu in the past maybe Sec. Jess Dureza take a short leave from the Netherlands and be the MRI point man.
Sorry for personally volunteering you for this gargantuan task but I am sure President Duterte will appoint you anyway.
Let’s pick up the shovel and rebuild Marawi!
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)