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Volunteers help clean Marawi City

October 6, 2017

MARAWI City--Hundreds of volunteers turned up on Wednesday to clean Barangay Matampay of debris, ISIS graffiti, and filth from the four months of fighting that devastated this city. Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said they are doing this so when almost 200,000 residents who fled will eventually come home, they will find the city already clean. “We want to erase any traces of the fighting. We want the residents to come home to a city that is clean,” Gandamra said. He said the Brigada Marawi they initiated will also clean six other barangays in the western portion of the city that is already considered cleared by the military and police. The volunteers swarmed in the streets of Barangay Matampay clearing the streets of old tires, blocks of wood and other debris. Army officers warned them not to touch boxes and not to enter houses and buildings. A day before, Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said a total of nine improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 18 blasting caps were found in one of the houses in Barangay Matampay. “It was ready to go. We had to destroy it immediately,” Brawner said. School teacher Casema Sone was elated that she finally was able to see her house in Barangay Matampay after more than four months. Her happiness was however cut short when military soldiers told her she cannot go inside or approach her two-storey wooden house because they have yet to clear it. “I do not know if my refrigerator, sala set and the clothes of children are still there,” Sone said as she looked into her house from the roadside. Another school teacher, Cairon Bula, led her fellow teachers in cleaning up the entrance of their school Hadji Saripa Elementary School. They too cannot enter their school because the military forbids them for fear there are still IEDs left behind by the ISIS-Maute gunmen. Brawner said the soldiers have cleared Barangay Matampay of ISIS-Maute gunmen in June but have yet to clear the school and houses of hidden explosives. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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President Duterte inaugurates housing project in Marawi City

October 5, 2017

President Rodrigo Roa Dutere made his sixth trip to Marawi City on Monday, October 2, to lead the inauguration of the Bahay Pag-asa Project at Barangay Bito Buadi Itowa intended for the displaced residents of the city. During the President’s trip, he witnessed soldiers from Joint Task Force (JTF) Marawi build the bamboo houses for Marawi internally displaced persons (IDPs). “First, I’d like to thank the benefactors and the workers of government behind this noble project,” the President said in his speech. “And it pains me deeply to see the place now in shambles,” he added as he traced part of his roots in Marawi saying that his grandmother is from Lanao del Sur. “Though I do not live here, I did not grow up here but that’s how it is. My lineage would tell me that I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said. He vowed to rebuild Marawi City once the fighting is over. The President said he has designated retired general Eduardo Del Rosario to be overall overseer of the reconstruction efforts being the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). “Ngayon, tayong mga workers in government, we will continue, especially the engineering brigade. Talagang salamat sa pagod ninyo. I know that it is a toil, an endless toil,” he said. He gave words of encouragement to government troops promising to raise their pay by 2018 and provide funds for the education of their children. He promised to buy more helicopters for the military to prevent incidents of ambush while traveling. He likewise vowed to equip them with additional firearms to protect themselves from enemies. He also thanked the military and the police for their sacrifices to fend off aggression by Islamist terrorists in Mindanao. “And I have a very special heart for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Police in their role now against the --- lahat na marami tayong problema. We’re facing so many fronts,” he said. He warned Maranao to refrain from embracing ISIS ideology that came from the Middle East, which the President said only brings trouble. “It is an imported ideology from the Middle East... Tingnan ninyo ang nangyari sa Middle East. It used to be the center of civilization for so many years. All the golden things in the past were there. Ngayon, wala na, pulpog na. And only because of a terrorist activity,” he said. President Duterte also expressed optimism that a federal form of government will cure the defect in the country’s political system if it successfully pass Congress and gain wide public support. The President also mentioned the government’s fight against the New People’s Army (NPA), which he said post at least 12 daily encounters with security forces. He said the government will deal with them “in due time” for being responsible for violence in the countryside. President Duterte also reiterated his determination to fight corruption and abuses underscoring his eagerness to recover government assets like Mile Long in Makati City. “So but they are now starting to pay. Sabi ko sa kanila, kolektahin mo because that is money of the people,” he said. ###PND

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