What will happen to Marawi if evacuees will not return?

EDITORIAL | February 10, 2018

Visit the barangays in Marawi which are declared cleared and safe after the siege and you will find out that considerable number of the actual resident-returnees registered by the barangay government units, the DSWD and other agencies are not really living in their respective barangays anymore. They are still in the areas where they found shelter during the siege — where many of them possibly decided to settle for good.

There are many reasons why this is so. One is the absence of many amenities, nay, necessities for a living they are used to: no accessible market, water and electricity supply is still abnormal, poor yet expensive public transportation services, and all the other basic needs are wanting. Fear that there may erupt similar battle as the siege poses as another factor. Also, before the returnees were finally allowed to return, children are already enrolled in the areas where they ran to during the siege and could not leave their present schools.

Indeed, it is not like heaven starting a new life in another land without anything to start with; but it is harder to stay in Marawi where nothing or very little is left of the usual way of life. If the evacuees agreed to return when they were asked to, they were thinking to get the relief goods and cash dole out from the government. Then, and finding the situation in their barangays is not so conducive for dwelling, they return to Iligan or to their new found shelters somewhere else where they now, or beginning to, get used to live and where basic commodities are accessible than in present-day Marawi.

In other words, Marawi will no longer be the same and with the Maranaos reluctant to return to their homeland after they lost everything in the war, with the unwanted phobia, and the military implementing policy of no-title, no-land — which was not generally in their culture since time immemorial — majority, seemingly now, may not comeback anymore.

If this tendency persists, hence, there may come a time when new immigrants from far and near will occupy Marawi and eventually own the city. With its majestic and beautiful location, Marawi is so cool a place to resist once outsiders are invited to engage in commerce, industry or for employment, or for whatever business venture in the city the government for economic purposes invites outsiders, to engage in commerce, industry or for employment, or whatever business venture in the city. Even if not invited, they will come but for greener pasture.

Remember how settlers were able to drive away the Muslims from their homes and get their ancestral lands?

Previous presidents like Quirino, Magsaysay, Macapagal, Marcos, among others, supported the settlement of people from the north in Mindanao — which was actually the start of the Moro revolt when they grabbed Muslim ancestral domain with the joint support by the oligarchs and the government through titling of the Muslim lands in their names, or reserving it for the military use or for national security.

And so, if the evacuees will not return, they will surely be replaced by a new people. (RSP)

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