Marawi officials wary of Robredo's pitch to preserve ruins

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Marawi City (CNN Philippines, October 29) — Marawi officials are not too keen on Vice President Leni Robredo's proposal to preserve the ruins of the war-torn city.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said government efforts should instead focus on reconstructing the devastated areas, which comprise nearly a third of the city.

He said the displaced residents' concerns should be prioritized.

"There are some sensitivities that we have to consider like for example, cultural, religous and other sensitivities of our people na hindi po basta-basta na ang ganyang mga proposal ay gagawin without thorough consultation, deliberations with our people [we cannot just approve a proposal without thorough consultation]," Gandamra said.

Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee Spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong said the proposed memorial park should be limited within a certain area.

"We're open and we just have to look at the plan itself," he said.

Some residents told CNN Philippines all they want is to return home.

"Payag kami pero ang gusto lang namin mangyari na yung bahay namin siyempre sunog, sira lahat, lahat sa mga kasangkapan namin, kung puwede lang mapapalitan yung bahay namin at saka mga kasangkapan namin [We will agree to it but we want our destroyed homes and possessions to be replaced]," Emmah Umpar said.

Over 300,000 residents were displaced as government forces fought with the ISIS-inspired Maute group that attacked Marawi on May 23.

The five-month heavy fighting, described as the country's longest urban war, reduced many homes and buildings to rubble.

During an interview after meeting with fisherfolk at Sabang Beach, Bulan in Sorsogon on October 24, Robredo suggested the preservation of city ruins to stand as a monument for the soldiers' bravery.

"Sana ma-preserve iyon, dahil ito ay parang monumento ng kagitingan at, 'di ba, ng pakikipaglaban, hindi lang ng mga sundalo natin, pero ng mga residente ng Marawi. Ito rin ay magsisilbing aral-aral ng lahat-tungkol sa terorismo, tungkol sa, 'di ba, hidwaan," Robredo said.

[Translation: I hope these are preserved because these are monuments of valor and battle, not only by our soldiers, but also the Marawi residents. This also serves as a lesson to all, about terrorism and cultural divide.]

A total of 165 government troops were killed in Marawi, along with 47 civilians, and 920 terrorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself said rebuilding Marawi will cost more than P50 billion.