#PeoplesSONA2017/ Research group IBON said that given the high poverty incidence in Marawi, the Duterte administration should rebuild lives and livelihood at no expense especially to poor and low-income Maraoanons affected by the ongoing conflict. The statement came in the wake of the Duterte government’s stated plan to offer loans to the victims of the war. Beyond relief aid, the Duterte administration should ensure swift and direct recovery assistance to poor families based on their needs and without interest or conditions, said the group.
More than 65,000 families have been compelled to evacuate as both their homes and establishments are being destroyed by the indiscriminate bombing and fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Maute Group. The number of evacuees has been rising as have civilian casualties. Various illnesses are spreading in the evacuation centers where medical treatment is not always available. Food aid is reportedly abundant yet there are areas where survivors have taken to eating cardboards dipped in water where there is nothing else to eat.
IBON expressed concern that while no specific program has been laid out regarding most of the evacuees, government has already identified plans to offer targeted loan packages as part of rebuilding and rehabilitating the war-stricken area. When the fighting is over, there will possibly be loans for Marawi entrepreneurs through financial institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), and Marawi-based members of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS). Packages have also been repeatedly promised to soldiers and their families.
But the destruction caused by the fighting has only further impoverished many Maraoanons who were already poor or had difficulty meeting daily needs prior to the devastation of the area, IBON said. Stable sources of income also cannot be assured in the aftermath of the war. Latest available official poverty statistics indicate that Marawi had a 60% poverty incidence. While loan packages may prove helpful to the target beneficiaries, the group said that government is duty-bound to provide the poor majority of Marawi residents with long-term assistance such as subsidies, strategic livelihood opportunities, sufficient social services and efficient public utilities.
IBON said that if the government does not effectively assist Maraonans in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, many will be pushed into deeper poverty which could fuel further armed conflict in the area. ###