150 transitional shelters now occupied by Marawi bakwits; 250 more by Jan. 30

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 January) — A hundred and fifty transitional shelters in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City, are now occupied by residents displaced by the five-month siege, and 250 more units will be available by January 30, the chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said.     

The TFBM was supposed to have turned over 500 units on December 27 but the units could not be occupied because electricity and water connections were not available by then.

TFBM chair and Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario told a press briefing in Malacanang on Friday that he ordered the delay of transfer of the “bakwits” (evacuees or internally displaced persons) for three weeks to ensure the houses have electrical and water connections.

“Last January 20 nagsimula na yung pagpasok ng initial 150 (families) dahil doon sa bahay may kuryente at may tubig na. Then, additional 250 will come in this coming January 30, sa Tuesday,” he said.

Workers dig to install water pipes at the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City on December 20, 2017. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

Del Rosario said a total of 551 temporary shelters were completed as of December 27  and 500 units were to be turned over to recipients validated by the local government units but he did not allow their transfer until the houses have electricity and water.

After January 30, del Rosario said, 200 units will be given “every ten days thereafter” to the beneficiaries validated by the barangay and city governments.

A total of 1,100 temporary shelters will initially be constructed for Marawi residents in the former “Ground Zero” or what is now referred to as MAA or ‘main affected area.”

The MAA comprises 250 hectares and was occupied by 11,000 families before the five-month clashes between government forces and the ISIS-inspired Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf and its allies started on May 23, 2017.

Del Rosario told MindaNews a total of 6,400 transitional shelters and 3,300 permanent shelters will be built. He said 1,100 of these transitional shelters will be completed by  March 1.

On the permanent housing units, del Rosario said they are still “waiting for availablility of lots to be provided by the local government unit.”

Buildings lay in ruins after the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from ISIS-inspired terrorists. Photo taken Tuesday (24 October 2017). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

He told reporters in Malacanang that there are three criteria that Marawi ‘bakwits’ must meet to avail of the housing projects: first, the “bakwit’ must have resided in the 24 barangays within the former “Ground Zero;” second, their houses were burned or destroyed; and third, they are poor.

If a potential beneficiary meets all three requirements, the TFBM added another consideration:  that 70% of the beneficiaries will come from evacuation centers and 30% from the home-based evacuees.

Del Rosario noted that majority of those who lived in the former “Ground Zero” are Meranaw businessmen who have business interests in Marawi City, in Greenhills, Baguio or even Cebu.

“Siyempre yun naman ay hindi sila nangangailangan ng assistance sa government dahil they are… masabi natin, sila iyong mayayaman. (They don’t need any government assistance because they are … wealthy). They are the well to do families in Marawi City.  Ang binibigay natin ng priority ay yun talagang walang kakayahang makabangon. Sila ang priority na bigyan natin ng assistance,” (We are giving priority to those who have no means. They are the priority for assistance), he said.

Marawi residents who rented houses in the former ‘Ground Zero’ cannot avail of the housing units.

“Renting is different,” del Rosario said, explaining that those who rented were staying in Marawi temporarily. He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) can assist by giving them fare to return to their places of origin and “pera para makapagsimula ka” (money to start anew).

Marawi residents who lived in danger zones “will not be allowed to go back there anymore. So they have to be resettled, so we will give them housing units.”

He was referring to residents living on the banks of the Agus River, near Lake Lanao.

He said this area to the left and right of Agus River “will become a promenade or a park.”

Del Rosario explained that those who will stay in transitional shelters — those who have no more homes to return to — will move to the permanent shelters.

Those in the temporary shelters who will build their own houses will not move to the permanent shelters but to the houses they built. “Yung iba naman na nandoon sa temporary shelter at nagpapagawa naman ng bahay, hindi sila pupunta sa permanent shelter but instead sa bahay na pinapagawa nila,” he said.

At the Malacanang press briefing on Bangon Marawi, a reporter asked if Marawi residents in the former “Ground Zero” who sought refuge in Manila can avail of the temporary shelters in Marawi.

Del Rosario said they have to coordinate with their barangay captains in Marawi, signify their intention to avail of the housing unit “and they have to prove” that they have no house in other areas and can’t afford to build one.

He commended all departments involved in the Marawi rehabilitation “for doing a very good job,” including the private sector which provided assistance and support.

Del Rosaio narrated that when the President declared the liberation of Marawi City on October 17, there was no immediate rehabilitation activity or early recovery program. “It actually started on the first week of November so it’s quite surprising na November, December and now on the third month January napakalaki na ng nagawa ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno at sa tulong ng private sector and non-government organizations, nakita naman natin kung ano iyong transformation,” he said.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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