Martial law in Mindanao to be lifted after Marawi clearing operations, but unclear when

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte makes fifth visit to Marawi City on September 21, 2017. -- PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte, on his fifth visit to Marawi last Thursday, said he will lift martial law in Mindanao once clearing operations are done in the besieged city.

It was unclear, however, when that will be as the fighting that started on May 23 continues between government troops and members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute militant group.

Following the militants’ rampage on May 23, Mr. Duterte immediately declared martial law in the entire southern islands of Mindanao. After the initial 60-day period provided under the Constitution lapsed, Congress approved an extension until the end of the year.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella, in a press briefing in Malacañang yesterday, said soldiers on the ground are “energized” to end the war that has, as of Sunday, claimed the lives of 673 militants, 47 civilians, and 149 soldiers.

“The troops were once again energized to finish the fight and to liberate Marawi at the soonest possible time,” Mr. Abella said.

“This was the first time it was covered by media, an indication of the continuously improving (situation),” he added.

Meanwhile, Chief of Public Affairs Office and Spokesperson Romina B. Marasigan, in the same press briefing in Malacañang, said that reconstruction work for Marawi, considered as the main Islamic City in the country, could take two to three years based on the initial assessment.

“We will not just repair,” she said in Filipino, “We will rebuild.”

Ms. Marasigan also reported that coordination work is continuing to ensure that the displaced residents are consulted in the reconstruction plan.

“In housing, the transitional shelters site development is still ongoing. Through our Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the units which will be used for the transitional shelters, which in consultation with our stakeholders and our IDPs (internally displaced persons), they have chosen a steel wall sandwich model,” Ms. Marasigan said.

The transitional shelters, initially consisting of 1,100 houses, is located in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City.

The temporary relocation site will also have common facilities such as mosques, Islamic schools, livelihood centers, security outposts, and recreational facilities.

So nagbubuo tayo ng community (So we are building a community)… (there is some) semblance of normalcy in the transitional shelters,” she said.

The spokesperson also reported that the Department of Trade and industry will be assisting Marawi’s IDPs in a Christmas bazaar on November 16 to 19 and November 24 to 30 at the World Trade Center, wherein they will showcase and sell their products.