Marawi cathedral rebuild on hold until mosques fixed

Work in Philippine city will wait in deference to Muslim neighbors, local church leaders say
Marawi cathedral rebuild on hold until mosques fixed

A lone motor vehicle traverses a road in the devastated city of Marawi. (Photo by Bong Sarmiento)

The rebuilding of the Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippine city of Marawi will have to wait until mosques are restored in the war-ravaged city.

Terrorist gunmen desecrated and burned the church when they attacked the country's so-called Islamic capital in May 2017, kicking off a five-month conflict.

Brother Reynaldo Barnido, executive director of the non-government Duyog Marawi group said Catholics would have to wait until the damaged mosques are reconstructed.

"In deference to our Muslim brothers and sisters, we will wait until the destroyed mosques are restored before we reconstruct St. Mary’s Cathedral," Barnido said.

Bishop Edwin dela Pena of the Prelature of Marawi has also said that the cathedral will be rebuilt, but only after the Muslims have rebuilt their city and their Masjids.

The Philippine government earlier announced that it will demolish the 84-year-old Catholic cathedral to pave the way for the rebuilding of Marawi.

Authorities said the cathedral and the bishop's residence are no longer structurally sound because of the damage caused by bomb explosions, air strikes, and bullet damage.

Terrorist gunmen set the cathedral on fire and stormed the bishop's residence during the attack of Marawi.

At least 25 mosques, including the Grand Mosque of the city, were also damaged during the conflict.

At least 100,000 people remain in temporary shelters or are still staying with relatives in nearby towns and villages.

The rehabilitation of "Ground Zero," the former main battle area now referred to by the government as the "most affected area," has yet to start.

The government agency assigned to the task is still in the process of clearing away debris as munitions experts search for unexploded bombs.

The government said at least a billion U.S. dollars is needed to rebuild Marawi and its surrounding areas.

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