MARAWI CITY – For a 38-year old mother of nine, her family’s life five yeas after the siege is way better than before they were displaced because of the five-month battle of the government against the ISIS extremists.
On May 23, Meranaws are commemorating the fifth year of the siege.
Anisah Bariga, whose children aged 17, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 5, 3 years old, and a 5 months old, is one of families who is now occupying one of the 109 permanent houses in Hadiya Village in Barangay Dulay West in Marawi City.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) constructed 1,000 permanent shelters for the displaced families who could no longer go back to their areas in the most affected area (MAA) using the 10 million US dollars donated by the Japan government for the Rebuilding Marawi Project (MRP).
February 25 of last year, Bariga’s faily transferred here, a shelter unit she calls “our own house”, leaving behind the house owned by a relative in a village in Marawi, some four kilometers away in Dulay West.
When Bariga’s family fled during the siege, they stayed for six months in a school, that served as evacuation center, in Saguiaran town, in Lanao del Sur.
“It was very difficult living in an evacuation center with six little children so right after the (declaration) of Marawi liberation, we asked our relative if we can stay in their house. They let me stay there for free while waiting for the opportunity to be given permanent housing,” Bariga said.
Bariga said she accepted the fact that they could no loger go back to their previous area inside the MAA in Marawi City. She understands that they were previously living in the area now declared by the goverment as “no-build zone” and “danger zone” because these are within the reclamation area, within the easement of Lake Lanao ang the river banks.
At Hadiya Village, Barriga said, she and her husband are comfortably living in a house with 42 square meters floor area on a 100sq m lot, with their nine children.
The couple is selling ‘dodol’, a Maranaw delicacy, they cooked together. A family friend allowed them to construct a small bamboo shade along the road in Barangay Lilod Saduc where commuters are regularly passing through.
She said, they have better life now compared before the siege even if they have the same source of income.
“Mas maliit pa dito bahay namin dati nung hindi pa nag-siege,” Bariga said comparing to their house now at the Hadiya Village. “At mas maganda ang income namin ngayon dahil nakapuwesto kami sa isang lugar na may maraming tao, hindi tulad ng dati na nasa loob kami ng Padian (market inside the most affected area),” she added.
While Bariga said her family has a better life five years after the siege, Taib Gauraki, a displaced resident who was also given a permanent shelter unit in the same area is worried about their ownership of the land their houses are constructed.
He learned that the government have only paid 25% of the lot, a total land area of 2.8 hectares, in Barangay Dulay West where the 109 houses were constructed. He is worried now that the UN-Habitat will be wrapping up their project, they will be left with no assurance of not being uprooted from the area.
“Sabi nila, this is a permanent shelter, how long will we wait na mabayaran ito (the lot) at hindi kami mapaalis dito? Importante sa amin na mabayaran ito para walang magpapaalis sa amin dito,” Gauraki said.
He said they wanted to get the title of the lot so that they are assured not to be displaced again.
Engr. Felmar Gilbang, Project Manager of Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), said these residents are already assured they will not be evicted from the housing area. The heirs of the original owner of the land, who was already dead, issued a conditional deed of sale to the SHFC after receiving the 20% of the prize of the land for the transfer of the title name.
“May certificate of award naman na ibinigay sa mga homeowners,” Gilbang said.
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said that 1,000 of more than three thousand families, who lived in the different transitory shelters, were already relocated to their permanent houses in five areas: Hadiya Village in Barangay Dulay West, Norsalam Village in Barangay Patani, Pamayandeg Ranaw Residence in barangays Kilala and Mipantao-Gadongan and Darussalam Village in Barangay Dulay Proper.
The SHFC and the National Housing Authority (NHA) purchased the land in these areas.
Around 2,000 more families living in the transitory shelters are yet to go home and rebuild their houses in the most affected area (MAA) according to Gandamra.
“Many of them are waiting for the compensation, as stated in the newly-approved Marawi Compensation Law, that they will use in rebuilding their houses. Many of them have already approved building permit and there are still many others waiting,” Gandamra said.
Praying for compensation
For Abduljalil Madid, homeowners association president of Hadiya Village, said even if they have already their permanent shelter and a livelihood, they still wanted to get assurance if they can received compensation from the government stated in the Compensation Law.
“Sana ang susunod na pamunuan ng national government, ang susunod na presidente, ay patuloy kaming suportahan gaya ng ginawa ni PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). Sana ay mabigyang solusyon ang mga hindi pa nasolusyunan ay mabigay na ang mga hindi pa nabigay sa amin,” Madid said.
Madid is referring about livelihood programs and amenities inside the housing site such as the public market.
On May 30, the UN-Habitat will wrap up its Marawi Resettlement Site projects.
In the course of its four-year engagement in Marawi, 1000 permanent houses were turned over to internally displaced families affected by the 2017 siege with the last houses were awarded in the May 19 handover event.
Aside from core shelter project, the UN-Habitat have also engaged in the livelihood skills training, community development, peace structures, mapping and community infrastructures.
As of May 2022, some 923 houses have completed construction, 77 are for completion by June 2022. Of these, 538 were already turned over to families.
“The planning of the construction of these houses were participated by the beneficiaries so that the house designs are culturally-sensitive,” said Christopher Rollo, Country Programme Manager of UN-Habitat Philippines.
“The Rebuilding Marawi Project demonstrates that adequate housing is at the center of sustainable development because having an adequate home empowers a family to satisfy its basic needs while providing the space to dream, engage in gainful livelihood, commune with neighbors and become communities of peace,” Rollo added.