NORMALCY remains elusive for displaced residents of Marawi City three years after the end of the five month-long siege that left over a thousand dead, 300,000 homeless, and large quarters of the city in ruins.
“We remember the innocents who lost their lives in this conflict. We honor our soldiers — those who exhibited courage and determination during those dark, dangerous months, especially those who fell, making the ultimate sacrifice for peace,” Vice President Leni Robredo said in a statement commemorating the event.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) listed 2,266 casualties, including 287 government troopers killed-in-action and 1,979 wounded.
Despite these sacrifices, Robredo said the threat of violent extremism continues to cast a shadow over the city even as its people wait for the promised rebuilding and restoration as a cultural and economic hub of the Islamic faith.
“The siege may have been lifted, but the Marawi of today reminds us: violent extremism remains among the biggest threats to society. Liberation entails much more than silencing the gunfire. Today we remember the Marawi we lost, even as we renew the call for a more urgent approach to the rehabilitation process and recommit to the rebuilding of a more peaceful and prosperous city,” she said.
Robredo called for a faster implementation of rehabilitation projects as she called attention to the plight of displaced families in evacuation centers who remain hopeful they can return to their homes and start rebuilding
“To truly address (the challenge), frustrations must be met with compassion.
Empowerment must become the foremost imperative. Equitable and inclusive progress must be achieved for the people of Marawi,” she said.
She voiced optimism the military is on the right track, noting the AFP leadership views the root cause of violent extremism as a governance and economic issue.
“I am heartened to note that our military officials recognize the problem of violent extremism as one that cannot be resolved by force alone …that it has another face besides war. And that education and economic progress are a big part of the solution,” she said.