MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo visited the main battle zone in Marawi on Thursday, November 16, a month after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city liberated from terrorists.
The Vice President inspected the extent of the damage in the war-stricken city to determine how her office can help its displaced residents.
"Medyo overwhelming iyong pakiramdam. Siyempre may nakikita na tayo sa pictures, pero iba pa rin kapag actual mong nakita. Iyong tinatanong ko nga, kung ito iyong naramdaman ko [kahit] hindi ako taga rito, ano pa kaya [para] sa mga taga rito talaga?" said Robredo when asked how she felt after seeing the damage herself.
(I feel overwhelmed. I've seen pictures, of course, but it's different when you've actually seen the damage yourself. I asked myself, if this is what I am feeling even if I'm not from here, how much more for those who live here?)
On May 23, homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group clashed with government forces in Marawi, sparking a months-long battle that destroyed the city.
The national government estimates around P50 billion is needed to rehabilitate the city. (WATCH: Marawi in 360: The cost of war)
Robredo believes one way the Office of the Vice President (OVP) can help is by linking residents there to non-governmental organizations and private companies which can provide livelihood projects. This would fall under Robredo's flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay.
Marawi City has been covered by the Vice President's program even before the war began.
"Gusto natin – I think malalaman namin iyon ngayong meeting with the LGU (local government unit) – ano iyong mga kalakal na puwede nang umpisahan, at paano ito mali-link sa merkado," said Robredo.
(We want to know – and I think we will find out once we meet with the LGU – what industries can be started here and how we can link them to the market.)
"Kasi mahaba-haba pang panahon ang kailangan para maibalik sa dati iyong negosyo dito. Pero sa atin, small steps, basta maumpisahan na," she added.
(Because it will take a long time to bring back businesses here. But for us, we need to start the small steps to get there.)
On Thursday, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio visited Marawi City as well, though she and the Vice President did not meet.
Photo from the Office of the Vice President
Residents' involvement, salute to soldiers
According to Robredo, Marawi residents themselves should be involved in the rehabilitation of their city. (READ: P2B needed to rebuild 29 'totally damaged' Marawi schools)
"Willing naman silang tumulong. Kasi kung hindi sila papatulungin, baka hindi masyadong maintindihan and ma-appreciate iyong extent ng problema. So mas mabuti pinapakinggan iyong boses, tinatanong kung ano iyong gusto, tinatanong iyong pinakamahalaga, at kami naman nandito lang," Robredo said.
(They are willing to help. Because if we don't allow them to, perhaps the extent of their problems may not be fully understood. So it's important that we listen to their voices, to ask what they want, and we are just here for them.)
Aside from the main battle area, Robredo also visited the 103rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Camp Ranao for a security briefing with Philippine Army officials there.
"Tingin ko lahat tayo magkaisa na pasalamatan iyong kabayanihan ng ating mga sundalo. Kaninang umiikot ako doon sa ground zero, parang ang bigat ng pakiramdam na iyong mga sundalo natin talagang tinaya nila iyong kanilang buhay doon. Kaya tingin ko nararapat lamang na tayong mga Pilipino – kahit hindi tayo taga-Marawi – magpasalamat tayo sa mga sakripisyo na ginawa nila para sa atin," she said.
(We are united in thanking the soldiers for their heroism. When I was going around ground zero, it was quite overwhelming to realize our soldiers risked their lives there. That's why I think Filipinos – even those not from Marawi – should thank the soldiers for their sacrifices.) – Rappler.com