AT LEAST 6,400 evacuees from nine villages (barangay) returned to their homes in Marawi, an official from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said on Friday, more than a week after President Rodrigo declared that the five-month war in the city was over.
Assistant Secretary Kristoffer Purisima said that the 6,462 evacuees would be home by November 4, Saturday, and assured them that the government would provide for their immediate needs.
“The return of IDPs (internally displaced persons) in nine identified barangay in Marawi City will be completed tomorrow. Utilities such as water and electricity, and health services are already accessible in the identified barangay,” Purisima said.
About P5,000 worth of cash assistance, on top of relief goods that include rice and food packs good for 17 days, as well as hygiene and kitchen kits, were also distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Marawi City government to the returning residents.
“Rolling stores and markets will be established to provide basic needs, while means of transportation within the areas will also be made available to provide mobility,” Purisima added.
Purisima also said that to determine whether the returning IDPs were legitimate residents, identification cards were being issued based on the rolls of census and voters’ registration.
There is no semblance of normalcy yet, however, as only evacuees from nine out of 96 villages were able to return home.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 after the IS-inspired Maute group staged a “rebellion” in a bid to declare a separatist state in Mindanao, with the late Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon as its “emir”.
Congress voted to extend martial law until the end of December as the fighting between government troops and Maute forces escalated, leaving over 100 soldiers, 47 civilians and 800 terrorists dead and displacing at least 500,000 residents.
The death of Hapilon, Omar Maute, one of the founders of the extremist group that bears his family name, and financier Mahmud Ahmad, in separate military assaults, weakened the organization considerably as remaining members tried to flee from the main battle area.
In its latest offensive, the military killed two more Maute stragglers, including the alleged “right hand” of Hapilon.