LOADED. Residents from Barangay Datu Saber of Marawi City hire a public utility jeepney to salvage their belongings and transport it outside the city as the fighting goes on against local terrorists and government forces. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)

MARAWI CITY, Philippines — As military operations intensify here, six families who evacuated from Barangay Datu Saber returned to the ravaged city to get what were left of their belongings.

Joel Yagon, a 34 year-old barber and his husband Giezl Yagon, 33 from Misamis Oriental along with eight of their neighbors entered Barangay Datu Saber on Tuesday noon.

They carried appliances such as televisions, refrigerators, clothes, kitchen utensils, and other items that they were able to salvage from their houses.

Yagon said if ever he will come back to Marawi he will not invest in appliances anymore.

“Para sa akin, kung magbalik man kami dito para maghanap buhay wala ng matirang gamit, basta lang makahanap buhay lang, makakain lang (If ever we come back to this place, it will only be for work. What is important is for us to have work, to buy food),” he said.

Yagon said he worked hard and invested on their properties for 16 years. He said they had to save their appliances out of fear of being looted, burned or bombed.

“Matagal namin yung pinaghirapan tapos mawala lang bigla. Kaya kahit buwis buhay kami para makapasok, pasukin namin para makuha ang gamit namin (We worked hard for it, but in an instant it will all be gone. That’s why even if it is dangerous we still went inside to get our things),” he said.

Yagon lamented that some looters took advantage of the situation and looted their small store.

“Martial Law na daw kasi kaya binubuksan lang nila mga bahay. Kung mapasok ng media yung mga bahay namin dyan, kawawang-kawawa, sirang-sira (They say it’s Martial Law anyway that’s why they forcibly entered and ransacked our houses. If the media could see our houses, it’s really damaged),” Yagon said.

Joel Yagon

Giezl said they raised the amount to hire a jeepney to get their remaining stuff.

Epifanio Cartajenas, Jr, the driver of the jeepney that was used by the families to get their things said there were three jeepneys hired by some affected families in Barangay Datu Saber.

He told Davao Today that some jeepneys were still left inside the village to get things. He said hiring  public utility jeepneys costs P2,000 to P5,000.

Police authorities who intercepted the PUJ along Agus Road interviewed the families to get their details.

Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, commander of the Regional Public Safety Battalion said they had to make sure that the families were the real owners of the things they transported.

Tayaba told Davao Today in an interview that they would recommend to the officers who are releasing safe conduct passes for vehicles entering Marawi City to amend the protocol.

“In case may pagbibigyan ng request, daan muna sa nearest checkpoint area para masamahan to make sure na kanila talaga yung hinahakot nila,” Tayaba said.

Residents and visitors who wish to enter Marawi are required to secure a safe conduct pass from the provincial government. The applicant will pass through the police and the military to get access.

He also warned residents not to enter the city yet as the situation is still “very fluid.”

He said they will issue an advise to the residents once the situation stabilized.

“Yung mga nagtatangkang residents na kumuha ng gamit huwag muna ngayon. Your belongings are secured as there are enough police officers here(To those residents who are trying to get their things from the houses they left, do not do it now),” he added. (davaotoday.com)

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