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Marawi Cathedral to be demolished

MANILA (UCAN): The 84-year-old St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi, Mindanao, will soon fall to the wrecking ball to pave the way for the rebuilding of the war-torn city.
Authorities said the cathedral and the bishop’s residence are no longer structurally sound because of bomb explosions, air strikes and exchanges of gunfire during the conflict.
Terrorist gunmen set the cathedral on fire on 23 May 2017 and took Father Teresito Suganob, the vicar general, along with several church workers and worshipers hostage.
They also stormed the bishop’s residence and several other buildings.
Philippine government is to demolish the Catholic cathedral in Marawi. The demolition of the structures and the clearance of debris was expected to start in June.
“We will rebuild the cathedral, but only after (the Muslims) have rebuilt their city and their Masjids (mosques),” Bishop Edwin dela Peña of the of Marawi, said, adding that Catholic Church groups would focus on “rebuilding communities.”
Bishop Dela Peña said that a simple church would be built on the site of the cathedral to symbolise the Church’s mission of being a reconciling presence in Marawi.
He brought several bishops on April 14 on a visit to the church, but the military did not allow them to celebrate Mass for security reasons.
Rey Barnido, executive director of Duyog Marawi (Together, Marawi), the Church’s healing and peace-building programme, said the visit “was both a symbol of solidarity (and) a symbolic blessing and prayer for peace.”
However, a group of displaced residents have voiced opposition to demolishing any buildings. The Ranao Multi-Stakeholders Movement decried what they described as the government’s insensitivity to the culture and feelings of the indigenous Maranao people of Marawi.
Sultan Abdul Hamidula Atar, the group’s spokesperson said, Muslim people were offended by the proposal to flatten all structures, including the city’s Grand Mosque.
A group of women calling themselves the United Mothers of Marawi Inc. appealed to the government on April 14 to allow people to go back to their communities.
“Many of us are begging for places to stay. Many of us have been driven out from shelters without dignity,” the group said in a statement.
They complained that they are made “to suffer for a crime that is not of our making (and) forced to pay for the inefficiency of those who are charged with the welfare of the people.”
Eduardo del Rosario, head of a government agency tasked with rebuilding the city, assured that everything is being done to give people their land back.
He said residents would be allowed to build structures on their land, adding that an arbitration body will address the issue of multiple claimants of properties.
Marawi was liberated from Islamic State inspired gunmen in October  last year.
An estimated 400,000 people, many still living in temporary shelters on the outskirts of Marawi, were affected by the conflict. More than 1,000 people were reported killed.
The government said that at least $78.4 billion (US$1 billion) is needed to rebuild the city and its surrounding areas.

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