DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) — A total of 2,606 families have visited their villages in four out of 24 barangays in Marawi City’s Ground Zero through Kambisita sa MAA (Visit the Most Affected Area) from April 1 to 10, according to reports reaching Assistant Secretary Felix Castro said, field office manager of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM).
Residents visited their homes – or what’s left of them – to retrieve what can still be salvaged from the rubble and in the process, led authorities to retrieve 21 unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and five skeletal remains.
The 250-hectare Ground Zero, the former main battle area between government forces and the Maute Group and its allies (now referred to as MAA or Most Affected Area), was home to 24 of 96 barangays in Marawi City before the five-month siege began on May 23, 2017, and was the city’s most populous district as it was not only residential but a commercial district as well.
Ground Zero was home to at least 27,000 families in 24 barangays before May 23. Castro had earlier told MindaNews that the residents then constituted 27,000 families, 11,163 of whom were home owners while the rest were “sharers and renters.”
For the Kambisita sa MAA, a project of TFBM and the city government of Marawi, the 250-hectare Ground Zero was divided into nine sectors, with residents of each sector allowed to visit three days per sector from April 1 to May 10.
Kambisita in Sector 1, covering portions of barangays Tolali and Daguduban, and Bubunga Madaya, was held on April 1, 2 and 3 while Sector 2, covering portions of Tolali and Daguduban and portions of Moncado Kadilingan, was opened to residents on April 5, 7 and 8. Sector 3, covering Moncado Kadilingan, is on April 10, 11 and 12.
There is no schedule for Kambisita on Fridays, the holy day for Muslims.
For Sectors 1 and 2, a total of 1,171 families were able to visit Barangay Tolali, 952 in Barangay Daguduban, 26 in Bubunga Madaya and 30 in Moncado Kadilingan.
For Sector 3, 427 families were able to visit Barangay Moncado Kadilingan on April 10, Assistant Secretary Felix Castro said, field office manager of TFBM told MindaNews.
In Sectors 1 and 2, a total of 1,560 vehicles were able to enter — 856 in Sector 1; 1,150 in Sector 2; and 410 in Sector 3 on April 10. Sector 3 visits are allowed also on April 11 and 12.
In the first sector, eight UXOs and IEDs were recovered — one 60 mm mortar on April 1, six 40 mm and one hand grenade on April 2. Eight UXOs and IEDs were also recovered in Sector 2 but the TFBM gave no breakdown.
On April 10, reports reaching Castro’s office said five items were recovered: one 90mm high explosive anti-tank projectile; one 40 mm high explosive projectile; two 40 mm high explosive dual purpose projectiles and one fragmentation grenade.
Five skeletal remains were recovered on April 7, the TFBM said but it did not say in which villages the remains were found.
An incident of snake bite was reported on April 10 but Castro was still awaiting details as of 7 p.m.
It took nearly 11 months before residents of Ground Zero could visit their villages.
But residents will have to wait a little longer before they could return to rebuild their homes.
Housing Secreatry Eduardo del Rosario, concurrent TFBM chair, on Friday said they can rebuild their homes “most likely first quarter of 2020” after the debris clearing and site development which would take “about 18 months.”
Del Rosario said the proposal of Bagong Marawi Consortium, composed of five Chinese and four local firms and led by China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd. had been selected and negotiations for the terms of reference, costing and project details are ongoing, with the Swiss Challenge to be undertaken by first week of May.
Del Rosario told reporters in Malacanang last Friday that the awarding of the contract is targeted for May 31 and groundbreaking will be held on June 7. Completion of debris clearing and site development is expected end of 2019. Residents can return and rebuild their homes by first quarter of 2020 and completion of the entire project is last quarter of 2021.
The Duterte administration bows out of office on June 30, 2022. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)