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Most Marawi residents hope to return home, others won’t

MARAWI CITY – Internally displaced persons (IDPs) locally known as “bakwit” have mixed reactions over the Marawi siege – some wanted to go back once normalcy returns while others already bid goodbye the moment they set their foot outside the city.

Jimmy Bantilan, 44, and his wife, Wilma, 41, along with 10 other members of their family walked two kilometers from Lumbak Madayah to Matampay where the driver of a private vehicle, which is on its way to Cagayan de Oro, brought them to Iligan City.

They are currently staying at the Maria Cristina Auditorium, one of the evacuation centers provided by the government as a temporary shelter.

Working as a carpenter, Jimmy said food is somehow sufficient, but they still have to cook more because they are a big family of 12 – his youngest is only eight months old and his eldest is 22.

Despite losing their home to bombing and fire, Jimmy hopes peace will eventually reign in Marawi.

Apart from the food provision, pail, kitchen utensils, and plates, the Bantilan family said they hope to have some cash for their other needs especially for their children.

A public utility driver, Mubarak Mindalaro ferry the 10 members of his family to an evacuation center in Iligan, using the multicab he failed to return to the owner due to the conflict.

Mubarak said the continous fighting has made him decide to leave Marawi City for good.

“Makikipagsapalaran na lang ako sa Iligan,” Mubarak, 30 years old, with four kids, said.

Meantime, conditions in the different evacuation centers vary.

Eddie Morales, a member of the Nurse Deployment Project of the Department of Health (DoH), identified the common illnesses at the Maria Cristina evacuation center as cough and colds, hitting both young and old.

The top five diseases were urinary tract infections (UTI), skin disease, hypertension, diabetic and pneumonia, said Morales.

The DoH has been providing medicines for the sick, he said.

Morales said apart from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, private groups and local government units donate food and things, as well. But, the IDPs need clothing, especially underwears.
(Camcer Imam & Mike U. Crismundo)