MARAWI CITY – A total of 180 families who were left homeless by the five-month battle between government soldiers and local terrorists last year will benefit from housing projects by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Friday led the turnover of an initial 36 units of transitional shelters in the village of Lumbaca Toros in the town of Saguiran in Lanao del Sur province. The beneficiaries are from Norhaya, one of the villages within an area in Marawi dubbed ‘Ground Zero’.
The additional 144 units located in Pantaon village of the same town are still under construction and would be handed over to beneficiaries this year. Those who will benefit from the two housing projects are mostly residents who stayed at the Saguiaran evacuation center.
“Gusto namin na mabawasan na ang mga nakatira sa tents at evacuation center. Magtulungan tayong lahat upang mabilis tayong makabangon sa sakunang ito,” Gov. Hataman said.
The regional government has earmarked about P20 million for the construction of housing units, additional water facilities and a 100-meter access road.
Since the Marawi siege on May 2017, the ARMM government continues to provide assistance to thousands of residents affected by the crisis.
Gov. Hataman said the regional government strives to rebuild the foundations of local leadership and re-establish safe spaces for the most vulnerable groups in the communities. “Marawi will rise again, and it will rise with the renewed strength and courage of our people,” he said, adding, an initial of P150 million has been allocated for the city’s rehabilitation program.
The regional government already provides a series of medical and psycho-social services, relief distribution, livelihood training and assistance, peace advocacy, dialogue, and consultation, among others, to those displaced by the Marawi siege.
Gov. Hataman assured that the beneficiaries will overcome the crisis. “Titiyakin namin na maibibigay namin ang mga pangangailangan ninyo upang makabangon,” he said.
The villages of Lumbaca Toros and Pantaon are both recipients of the governor’s anti-poverty program dubbed ARMM-HELPS or Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy.
Anwar Upahm, ARMM-HELPS program manager, said other projects in Pantaon will be turned over this year while construction of facilities in Lumbaca Toros will start this August. The projects include a village hall, multi-purpose building, school armchairs, and farm machinery.
Gov. Hataman said the regional government will also provide them livelihood programs and train them in Islamic finance.
For 48-year-old mother Norma Umpa, it is very difficult to experience a crisis like the Marawi siege, but seeing that there are people who are willing to help gives her courage to hope for a recovery. “Sa totoo lang po, nawalan na kami ng pag-asa. Hindi namin inakala na makakatanggap pa kami ng tulong mula sa gobyerno,” Ompa said.
She is one of thousands of residents who were displaced by the conflict and lived in evacuation centers. “Makakatulog na rin po kami ng maayos at masaya dahil hindi lang basta bahay na matutuluyan ang binigay sa amin, pati na rin pangkabuhayan,” she added.
Meanwhile, village chieftain Caomanan Dalepang of Alinun in Saguiran town said she is also willing to donate her half-hectare lot to serve as temporary shelter for the evacuees.
ARMM housing project marks new beginning for Marawi IDPs
Gov. Hataman said: “Isa sa mga goals ng regional governmentay kahit paunti-unti, dapat klaro yung direksyon natin na mabawasan natin sana yung mga nakatira sa mga evacuation centers at mga tents habang inaayos yung ground zero dahil years ang bibilangin natin sa pagsasaayos ng lugar na yun.”
Among the recipients of the housing project are Daud Radia, 65, and his wife Inday, 62. Before the Marawi siege last year, Daud was a driver, while Inday worked as a tailor. “Hindi kami mayaman, pero noon, mayroon kaming sariling bahay,” Inday said.
After the displacement brought by the siege, the couple with their four children, found refuge in a small area in Lumbaca Toros. Being highly dependent on relief goods provided by the government and without a stable job, Daud could no longer work since his license had expired and he has no sufficient money to have it renewed.
Living inside a tent for a year, Inday said they are constantly worried about their situation – especially for their grandchildren. “Basta umuulan, umiiyak ang mga bata. Natatakot na kasi sila dahil noon, nabagsakan ng kahoy ang tentnamin dahil sa lakas ng hangin,” she recalled.
Now that the Radia family has moved from a tent to a housing unit, the couple has gained peace of mind. “Hindi kami nakakahiga sa kama noon. Matanda na kami, kaya mahirap na ang humiga sa banig. Ngayong may bahay na kami ulit, mas safe na ang pamilya namin at maginhawa na ang buhay namin,” Inday said.
Daud’s plan is to save money to have his license renewed to jump start the family’s income. “Hindi ko na poproblemahin ang pang-araw-araw namin. Panatag ako sa asawa’t mga anak ko,” he said. Inday, on the other hand, will return to tailoring as soon as the family settles down to its new home. “Parang bagong buhay sa amin ito. Iba na ang lugar, pero sa tulong ng gobyerno, makakabalik kami sa kung ano ang buhay namin noon,” she said.
Gov. Hataman encouraged the displaced families to keep their faith since Islam teaches that with every hardship comes ease. “Sa Islam ganoon ho ang paniniwala, habang mayroong sakuna, palaging mayroong bago at kagandahan ang bukas,” he said.
He also assured displaced residents that government agencies are united in the endeavor to rebuild Marawi. “Hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa lalo’t lahat ng istruktura ng gobyerno ay nagtutulong-tulong ngayon,” he said. (Bureau of Public Information)
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