By Catherine S Valente/Manila Times
An inter-agency task force leading rehabilitation efforts in war-torn Marawi City disputed a report that said the city remained a “ghost town” more than a year after it was liberated from terrorist influence.
Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairman Eduardo del Rosario described Marawi City as “alive and booming,” contrary to a Washington Post article published February 1, which stated “Marawi looks almost as it did when the bombs and bullets stopped flying in October 2017. It seems to be off-tangent from the truth, from what is happening in Marawi. If you say it’s a ghost city, what comes to our mind is that nothing changed and the government did nothing, which is not true,” Del Rosario told reporters.
“If you will go there to the centre of the city there will be traffic, business activity, economic activity and movement of people.
So many vehicles. If you go to Marawi City, you’d find it hard to reach the centre of the city because of the heavy traffic. There’s business activity, economic activity and movement of the people.
Many vehicles are already going to Marawi City, and this triggers economic activity,” he added.
Del Rosario added that the Washington Post article “overly dramatised negatively” the current situation in Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur province in southern Mindanao.
He noted that the most affected area, which was levelled during a five-month battle between government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute rebels in 2017, only comprised 250 hectares of Marawi’s total land area of 8,000 hectares.
“We’d just like to say the reality on the ground and that the story does not match anything here, it’s a ghost city, but instead it’s full of economic activity and I think this can be attributed to the whole government approach, convergence efforts that is being done by our government.
Now it’s really a city and it is alive and booming,” he added.
The task force head expressed confidence that the rehabilitation of Marawi would be completed in 2021.
“The challenge now is the consent of the residents to give their willingness, their consent for their houses to be demolished.”
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