After sanctuary in Iligan, MSU students displaced from Marawi head for home

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Iligan City – Some 760 Mindanao State University (MSU) students who hail from different parts of Mindanao and were trapped inside the university grounds in Marawi City for four days finally headed home at the weekend after a brief stay at the MSU-Iligan State University (IIT) campus.

The last of the temporarily displaced students were fetched up by their respective provincial and town representatives from different parts of Mindanao, as well as Palawan and Bohol.

“We have sent off more than 700 student who had fled the Marawi campus, after their brief stay here at our College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) building. The first of the students started arriving last Wednesday night, May 24, 2017. We provided them food. We placed them in classrooms that served as their sleeping quarters, and toiletries and other supplies,” said Dr. Maryjoy Banawa, Dean of the CASS, MSU-IIT.

Most of the provinces, like Surigao del Sur, which had the most number of students at 119, Surigao del Norte with 98, Agusan del Norte with 102 and Agusan del Sur with 94 sent buses and other vehicles to convey them back to their homes.

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Other students, like 30 from Palawan, were provided with tickets to return to their respective homes. The rest of the students who were given refuge at the IIT-CASS facility hailed from Dinagat, General Santos City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Davao provinces and Bohol.

“We came here after receiving the notice that several of the students from our province requested assistance to return home,” said Abel De Guzman, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer (PDDRRMO) of Surigao del Sur.

“We left Tandag City at around 3:00 in the morning. From here we will then stay for a night in Cagayan de Oro City, where we have arranged for an organization to help provide a short stress debriefing in order to assess if further psychological intervention is needed. In the morning, we will head off to Butuan City, then onward to Surigao del Sur.”

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Arnelli Panoga, a 21-year old taking up Environmental Science, from Bunawan in Agusan del Sur, escaped from Marawi City on the back of the dump truck last May 25, and had to endure a 6-hour journey before reaching the IIT campus in Iligan City.

Psychological first aid
Dean Banawa of IIT pointed out that some of the students willing to undergo psychosocial intervention were given prompt attention and care, as the college has its Psychology Department.

Professor Precilla Cada, chair of the Psychology Department disclosed that 13 of the students were given psychological interventions right away.

“After several of the students arrived, our team immediately looked for students that might have been exposed to the violence and traumatized by their experience. We went from one classroom to the next asking for those who were willing to talk to us and share their concerns. Most of the 13 students were males who openly shared their experience during the focus group discussion. We tried to give them psychological first aid, profiling and performed a needs assessment. Most of them shared their fears, such as for their lives, others about being afraid of not getting out and of being cut off from the rest of the students, others feared that they might run out of food,” said Cada.

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Cada pointed out that two students, a Tausug and a Maranao, were diagnosed as needing further attention and one-on-one intervention, but declined to elaborate.

But most of the other students said they were quite confident that the terrorist group would not over take the entire MSU campus.

“We actually got together at the dorm and just prayed that we will be rescued and help will come, the gunfire outside the campus became stronger and louder with each day, accompanied by several explosions. Some of the other students even found it somewhat thrilling,” said a student who wanted to be known only as Jason.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW BY ERWIN MASCARIÑAS, NEWS5 | INTERAKSYON

An ambulance from Agusan del Norte is one of the vehicles used to fetch the students from their province together with other vehicles.
Students go through a checklist rundown before hopping aboard the bus bound for the province of Surigao del Sur.
Students signing off on their names before leaving the sanctuary of IIT campus.

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