At Brigada Eskwela, Briones promises Marawi kids that schools will be fixed
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – Brigada Eskwela, the government's volunteer program for school repairs, usually has a festive atmosphere. But the mood turned somber when the Department of Education (DepEd) kicked off the program here in war-stricken Marawi City.
On Wednesday, December 13, Education Secretary Leonor Briones went to the Camp Bagong Amai Pakpak Elementary School to begin the DepEd's efforts to repair and rebuild 15 of the 69 schools damaged by the war between government troops and homegrown terrorists.
The months-long fighting completely destroyed 22 schools within the main battle zone, while another 47 schools outside the area are in need of major repairs.
On Wednesday, Briones was welcomed by grade-schoolers who performed several songs for her, including their rendition of "Awit Para sa Marawi."
It was then that Briones saw 9-year-old Nor-asiah Jutbamangarun crying while singing the song.
"I asked her why was she crying, and she said she wants Marawi back... I promised her that before she really fully grows up, Marawi will be restored," Briones later told reporters.
"So our promise is we should never, never, never make children weep. Our duty and obligation, [as a] government in this world, is to make them happy now, is to give them all the opportunities for learning, whatever backgrounds we have," she added.
The Grade 3 student said she was sad because terrorists had invaded her city.
"[Umiyak ako] dahil ang Marawi pinuntahan ng Maute Group, dahil nasabugan dahil sa sundalo," said the timid Jutbamangarun.
(I cried because the Maute Group went to Marawi, because the soldiers bombed the city.)
She and her family were one of the lucky ones, as the war did not destroy their house. (READ: DepEd provides psych first aid for displaced Marawi students)
Jutbamangarun is also thankful the DepEd will now repair her school, which opened classes last September.
"Marami pong salamat po dahil kayo po ang nagbigay po sa amin ng relief goods... Salamat po sa DepEd dahil lahat ng basag sa classroom inaayos nila," she added.
(Thank you because you gave us relief goods. Thank you to the DepEd because they are now fixing what's been damaged in our classrooms.)
The work is cut out for the DepEd, however. Briones estimated that the rehabilitation of all Marawi schools may take one to two years.
A total of P1.16 billion is projected to be spent on rebuilding the 22 completely damaged schools. Another P300 million is needed to repair the 47 schools outside the main battle zone. – Rappler.com