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OUR MARAWI: True liberation from terror begins with restitution, with justice Zia Alonto Adiong

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(Speech delivered on the 6th commemoration of the liberation of Marawi on 17 October 2023 at the City Hall in Marawi City by Lanao del Sur 1st district Representative Zia Alonto Adiong, chair of the House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Recovery and chair of the House Oversight Committee on Marawi victims’ compensation).

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu!

Six years ago as the guns fell quiet, the silence of our friends who fell, rang in our ears like the aftershocks of explosions. The tremors of their absence reverberating as an earthquake through our communities. Their loss in the night blooming as grief in the light of dawn. Today is for them, but more so, it is for what they fought and died for. Today we remember. Gathered here are survivors, heroes, duty-bearers. Today we commemorate the coming of the dawn, the lifting of the siege, the Liberation of Marawi.

It must be jarring to begin such a joyous occasion with reminders of loss and grief. But six years ago, in the midst of crushing, unending darkness, ordinary citizens found the extraordinary strength to persevere. The strength to stand united, to defend our homes, and to protect the values we hold dear.

In commemorating this day, we not only remember the pain and suffering that we endured but, more importantly, we celebrate the resilience, unity, and the unyielding spirit that saw us through those trying times. It is a testament to the unbreakable bond that ties the people of Marawi together, a bond that was tested and ultimately strengthened by the trials we faced.

As we gather here today, we must also acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who paid the ultimate price in the defense of our city. The heroes who laid down their lives for Marawi shall forever be remembered and cherished in our hearts. Their valor and devotion to duty serve as a source of inspiration to us all.

Since the liberation, we have made significant strides in rebuilding our city. Just this year, Marawi, specifically the restitution of the victims of the siege, was a priority concern featured in the State of the Nation Address of the President. The Marawi Compensation Board has begun the arduous task of processing the claims of victims to which the Department of Budget and Management, led by Secretary Pangandaman, has released the one billion pesos initially allotted for this program.

The House of the People has not been silent on this end. We, your representatives, have lobbied for and convened the Ad Hoc Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Victims Compensation and the House Oversight Committee on the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act. We have toiled and have earned the commitments and support of the DBM and house leadership in ensuring that the Victims Compensation Fund is able to fulfill its intended purpose through the Marawi Compensation Board.

Today we accept these projects of this ceremonial turnover with utmost grace and gratitude. May these be a constant reminder of a promise made, of a promise kept. But let us not forget that there is still work to be done. Marawi’s journey to full recovery is ongoing, and we must continue to support one another in this endeavor. Our commitment to rebuilding not only the physical structures but also the social fabric of our community remains unwavering.

True liberation from terror begins with restitution, it begins with justice. It is not only to end the terror that grips us but to banish the terror that lurks before us. It is to build a shining monument that will light the way of our citizens. It is to kindle the flame of hope.

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