The mirrors of Marawi

Double Vision

Antonio V. Figueroa

ON MARCH 23, 2023, Marawi will painfully remember the sixth year since the Battle of Marawi, a five-month-long struggle to bring down the Islamic jihadists in Lanao del Sur took place.

The tragic event has exposed the government’s lack of intelligence and, thereafter, the failure to compensate victims of the violent atrocity. The mirrors of discontent, if you will, has haunted the Islamic city until now and there are no indications the reflections or refractions of the mirrors will eventually be resolved in favor of the victims.

What was once a beautiful a city is now a ruined settlement that continues to woefully redeem itself from the destruction of the jihadists, forces that sadly identify themselves with Islam which, universally, has been embraced by most of the Muslim world as a peaceful religion.

Piecing together the broken mirrors takes more than just the declaration of rebuilding a flattened city. The State must also take into account the haste with which developments are reintroduced into the city. The people of Marawi cannot live on promises alone and they cannot recoup their livelihood by imaginary proposals worth only for propaganda.

The siege left over 200,000 refugees. Despite the humongous number of displaced people, the Duterte administration was nonchalant in inviting the Meranaos to ‘rise and move forward’ even in the absence of the promised assistance. As a result, there are still thousands who remain without permanent shelter and have no money to rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses.

Discontent is something the government must take into account seriously. Even if there exists already the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the peripheral treats this new entity extends is very limited. Much of its efforts is only on reintegration and administrative support. A ‘whole of government’ approach is necessary is ensuring that Marawi, in the next decade, can rise from the ruins and regain its pride as the country’s only Islamic city.

As a contiguous island exclusive of the Sulu archipelago, Mindanao can only project stability if its troubled parts are shared the value of development in terms of concrete undertakings. Political assurances, no matter how embellished and finely worded, do not define anything but personal aggrandizement on those who make them. The people of Marawi cannot live on pledges nor can they thank the government for things that are not tangible. Auditory words simply suck.

There is so much to do in rebuilding Marawi, and it’s a fact of life that such responsibility requires a collective effort. In the absence of a spirited support from the State, the delay in the delivery of services and development may only trigger another of displeasure that anti-government elements can always exploit to rekindle their agenda of destruction.

Aside from addressing the needs of a displaced population, the State must be determined also in reintroducing progress to the city in the name of those soldiers and cops who sacrificed their lives in defending the city. In reliving their memory, the best tribute is to bring back normalcy to Marawi so people can meaningfully participate in the struggle of uniformed men in liberating Marawi from the claws of another future conflict.

If the government has no qualms in investing in billion-dollar infrastructures that solely benefit Luzon, it does not take rocket science to understand that Marawi, as part of a developing Mindanao, must rise again to redeem lost opportunists. No matter how painful the Battle of Marawi has scarred its people, the city, even if its voice is faint and unheard, should be a part of the priorities. Instead, remove pork barrels and intelligence funds and give it to Marawi.


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