Philippines

Marawi siege hostage survivors receive rice from OPAPP

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By Lou Ellen L. Antonio

MARAWI CITY, Oct. 16 (PIA) -- Fifty hostages who survived the month-long captivity in the hands of the Maute-Islamic State-linked group in May 2017 received 50 kilos of rice from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP).

In line with the commemoration of the third anniversary of Marawi liberation, OPAPP partnered with Pakigdait Inc., a non-government organization, in identifying the Marawi siege hostage survivors.

Jose Regulus Ortega, project development officer of OPAPP Northern Mindanao, said that this initiative is just part of their Social Healing and Peacebuilding Program (SHPP) for Lanao del Sur as a member-agency of Task Force Bangon Marawi.

“Pangatlong taon na mula nang maliberate ang Marawi sa kamay ng ISIS fighters pero kahit pa man medyo ang buhay ay talagang mahirap, at lalo mas naging mahirap dahil sa pandemic, tuloy-tuloy parin na gagampanan ang adhikain natin tungo sa kapayapaan sa pakikipagtulugnan sa kapwa member-agencies ng TFBM,” said Ortega.

[It has been three years since the Marawi City has been liberated from the clutches of the ISIS fighters but while life is really challenging and has become more challenging because of this pandemic, our efforts in pursuing our peace advocacy continue with the collaboration with member-agencies of TFBM.]

Pakigdait’s senior admin officer Gee Collantes said that their organization started coordinating with the hostage survivors and capacitated them in September 2019.

“Ang activity na ito ay isa sa pinakamahalagang activity para sa Marawi survivors dahil ito ay makakatulong sa kanila,” said Collantes.

[This activity is one of the significant activities for Marawi survivors because this will help them a lot.]

Meanwhile, Roger Patendol, a construction worker during the Marawi siege who survived four-month captivity in the hands of the ISIS-linked group, conveyed his appreciation to OPAPP and Pakigdait for the assistance given to them. He also called for the unity of the people in achieving peace.

“Sana magtulungan nalang po para wala na pong buhay na masasayang kasi kawawa ang sibilyan,” he said.

[I hope people will be united so that no life will be wasted because civilians will be in misery.]

The 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Marawi City Police Station also assisted in the distribution.

Other SHPP activities of OPAPP include series of peace conversations and youth-led activities and establishment of social enterprises in barangays. (LELA/PIA ICIC)