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Butig is torn, it needs help!

Front page of The New Ranao Star
(Vol. VI, No. 25, Dec 26, 2016-Jan 1, 2017)

Butig, Lanao del Sur 
December 27, 2016 

Butig is torn, it needs help!

This is the common expression of some sixty representatives of various civil society organizations (CSOs) who, for peace and solidarity, recently visited conflict-and-terror affected Butig, Lanao del Sur for peace and solidarity.

Butig was hit for the third time by war in less than a year due to the so-called IS-inspired Maute group who was said to be aided by sympathizers allegedly attacking the military.

The first war was in February, second in May and third in November, all in 2016.

Houses were hit by bombs and bullets, a scores of death in both sides (According to the town mayor, there were only officially two fatalities on the military side and between and tenty on the armed group side.)

Children had to stop schooling. Schools were destroyed and will take some time to be repaired. Many teachers were afraid to return to Butig. Like their pupils and students, they too are traumatized by the effect of the fighting.

The sick were taking difficult time to be medically treated. And they were among those who would prefer not to comeback.

CSO leader Drieza Abato Lininding said in a an FB post “...more than half of the thousands Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Butig were not able to return to their homes even if the situation is now starting to normalize.”

He said one reason is that the IDPs have nothing to return to — their homes are no longer livable, either totally destroyed or severely damaged — and their belongings were looted too.

He stressed: “The LGU of Butig needs all the help to start Rebuild Butig.”

Lininding related: “As we are being toured around the ruins of the fighting, the town turned into a Ghost Town.

“I cannot blame those who choose not to return, aside from fear, their town is in total ruin. I cannot help but shed tears and asked my self: where are the elderly? how is the Ina's and Ama's coping with all these?

“Those sick and the innocent children, what future awaits them? Their schools are in total ruin too. Who will help them?”

He added: “The LGU could do too little for them, but we hope the National Government and ARMM could do more. We cannot afford to be just by-standers. We should stand with the people of BUTIG they all dream of peace and let us help them realize it. Butig is them, you and us! We are one body!”

Youth leaders Lininding and Khuzaymah Maranda were designated leaders by the CSOs representatives including media representatives who visited Butig. Assistant Secretary Ding Cali and other CSO leaders fully support the visit.

The CSOs also brought with them relief items distributed to IDPs. The relief goods were donated by individual and group members without any government agency contribution.

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