Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines

Has Marawi Changed in 2016?

This holiday, I went home to Marawi to see my grandmother who I have missed as I have been living in Iligan for half a year already. Although I go to Marawi every now and then to cover events, I haven't stayed there overnight for quite a long time. Over the weekend, I had a chance to experience again what it is to live in Marawi. 

I was reminded of the article I wrote on thirteen things I hate about Marawi on April. And I thought I should go back to that post to serve as a guide in recognizing changes in the city. Let us be reminded that in 2016 we have a change in leadership both in the national and local level. Here are my observations:

Quezon Avenue, Marawi City
Photo taken circa 2016 Elections.

1. Drugs

Duterte's drug on war has a palpable effect on Marawi. There have been raids. Duterte named big Meranao drug lords and protectors. A big one was caught. Some have surrendered. There is a humor that the supply of narco in the city is so low the addicts have nowhere to find source. That, however is merely a rumor. I cannot confirm that. But the thing is, after the drug lords were named and drug users and pushers surrendered, we haven't heard news on what happened to them. We haven't put behind bars the famous ones.

Another direct effect on the war on drugs is that Meranao drug pushers residing in other cities came home to Lanao to hide. Some say the reason why our roads are congested because the rich drug pushers brought back with them their expensive cars. Thus, even in the bukid, one can observe an abundance of Fortuners and Hiluxes. That again is merely speculation. Again, I cannot confirm the truth in that. Isipin niyo man, if totoo, is Marawi the safe haven for former/dormant drug pushers and addicts. Abay nakakatakot pala!

2. Criminality

I was already bound for Marawi on Friday afternoon when I saw on my news feed that two men were shot dead in Marawi. Allegedly, the motive is that they were killed because they are Shi'ite. They were killed in broad daylight. Imagine that. One can go berserk and shoot people in the streets of Marawi and escape without so much of a scratch. I heard the crime is connected with the extremists.

Moreover, a fellow journalist gave me a copy of police reports on 4 cases of murder committed between the last week of November and the first week of December. All cases have a common denominator: that the murderers are riding in tandem with helmets on to conceal their identity. In a span of few weeks, already four cases were reported.

What does that tell us? #Alamnathis.

3. Trash

I would have to commend the local government unit led by Mayor Majul Gandamra for restoring the garbage collection. The young mayor bought new trucks and hired people to keep the city clean. Alalahanin niyo what happened after election, our city became a literal Payatas. As if biglang wala nang government in Marawi. Pinabayaan na lang nang ganun. All of us were forced to keep our garbage in our yards until the new mayor can assume leadership.

But then again, we have miles to go in this department. I noticed that there is an ongoing rehabilitation of the drainage system along the major roads. Kudos! But still some streets are still littered. Perhaps kasalanan na yun nung tao? We are so used with a no-system system that we haven't formed any solid waste management habit. I hope the LGU enhance their SWM program as the people are slowly being trained in proper waste disposal.

4. Unsanitary market

I haven't seen the Padian. I have heard though that the fish market in Barrio Paypay has been abolished. That's a change I welcome.

5. Traffic

The local government has implemented mechanisms to ease the traffic congestion. Now we have trained traffic enforcers in choke points. Moreover, a color coding system was also implemented among pedicabs. Ang tanong, effective ba? To a certain extent yes. Even if the intersection in Sarimanok remains congested, at least there are people to manage the large volume of traffic converging in the are.

Pero traffic pa rin eh. No matter how many more systems we design, the fact remains that we have too many cars in Marawi and too narrow streets to accommodate them. The roads are narrow but still we allow cars to park just about anywhere. We let people build establishments beside the road without giving allowance for sidewalk and parking. We appreciate the effort of the LGU, but it's like they are trying to medicate cancer with paracetamol. We need effective, sustainable, and lasting solutions.

7. Frequent power interruptions

The patay-sindi ilaw in Lanao del Sur, particularly in Marawi is walang kamatayan. That weekend I was at home in Marawi, I experienced two power outages, one lasted at least three hours, and multiple, like at least ten power interruptions that lasted a few seconds. Nagpalit na ng general manager, nagkabit na ng bagong metro, anong problema LASURECO?

And before we point finger at NGCP, let us be clear that the reason why we get frequent outages is that LASURECO is allowed around 7 MW (if I'm not mistaken) although the demand in the whole franchise area is 35 MW. Why the limitation? Because LASURECO is neck-deep in debt. They blame the consumers for wire-tapping and delinquency in paying their bills. The consumers are blaming them for rampant corruption e.g. the LASURECO linemen themselves are the ones making illegal tapping. Chicken or egg, which one came first?

I wish 2017, through the efforts of four Meranao cabinet secretaries, the national government can help us. Obviously, we cannot help ourselves so we need outside intervention. Kakahiya ano?

WHOA! Writing this sapped my will to live. EXAG!

That's it for now. Part 2 on the way. Thanks for the patience to read my rant! And if you observed changes that I haven't mention, please let me know.