DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 April) — They waited nearly 11 months before they could visit their homes — or what is left of them — in Marawi City’s Ground Zero. But they will wait even longer before they could return and finally rebuild their homes there.
Residents from Ground Zero, the former main battle area between government forces and the Maute Group in last year’s five-month siege (now referred to as MAA or Most Affected Area), can start rebuilding their homes there “most likely first quarter 2020,” Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, concurrent chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) told MindaNews Friday afternoon.
Rebuilding in the 250-hectare Ground Zero will be done by phases, with the developers taking the lead.
In his press briefing in Malacanang Friday noon, Del Rosario said their timeline is “about 18 months” for the debris clearing and site development, which includes the road network and the underground utilities for water, electricity and telecommunications.
Groundbreaking for the Ground Zero development plan, if the contract is awarded to developers by May 31, will be on June 7, 2018, he said.
“So if that is undertaken on time, then after 18 months, or one year and six months, the different owners — we will do it by phasing — can apply for construction of building permit, housing permit from the city government so that once and for all everything will be organized because we don’t have a data bank, data base of all these buildings and houses,” he said.
“We will only allow (residents to rebuild) once the developer is through with their site development in providing the utilities, then the individual private owners of lots can apply for a building permit from the city government,” del Rosario said.
Asked which part of Ground Zero is classified under military reservation, del Rosario clarified that “basically, the MAA is not within the military reservation.”
Del Rosario told Malacanang reporters that negotiation with the Bagong Marawi Consortium (BMC), whose proposal was selected among five unsolicited proposals, are ongoing and if it succeeds, “that’s the time we are going to give that developer original proponent status and once it is given to him, the following day this will be published in the national dailies so that the Swiss Challenge will start.”
Debris clearing, site development
He said they hope to start Swiss Challenge by May 4, complete it by May 25, award by May 31, hold groundbreaking rites on June 7 and go on debris clearing and site development from June 2018 to December 2019.
Completion of the project is targeted last quarter of 2021.
Del Rosario explained that the Swiss Challenge is “actually a hybrid mode of public bidding” but is faster “because we have to select initially the one that we will negotiate with — the developer” and after selecting, will subject it to Swiss Challenge.
At the end of the day, government will be the “winner” because “we will get the lowest cost (for) the same quality,” he said.
Five companies — four Chinese and one Malaysian — submitted proposals to the TFBM to develop the 250-hectare MAA. Comprising 24 barangays, the MAA was home to 27,000 families, 11,163 of them home owners.
The BMC, he said, was selected for having met the minimum development requirements on debris management, site development plan, development of the 250-hectarea area, concrete expansion of existing roads, development of both sides of Agus River and Lanao lake into parks, provision for underground utilities such as water, power and telecommunications; vertical development in accordance with the National Building Code, and centralized waste water treatment facility or centralized sewage treatment plant.
Del Rosario cited the construction of a convention center that can accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 people, two-hectare memorial site, a historical site, port facilities, a multi-modal transport hub and a grand central market or grand padian with a floor area of 10,000 square meters.
He said the minimum development requirements “became the basis of the apple to apple comparison of the tender submitted by developers.”
The BMC in its proposed site development plan and spatial strategy, designated a “cultural area, a residential area and a place for tourism.”
“Of course this spatial strategy will be presented to the local stakeholders so that at the end of the day, we will be able to get what they really want,” del Rosario said.
Consultations are being scheduled from April 9 to 25, he said.
In his Powerpoint presentation Friday, del Rosario showed some of the perspectives from the developer — an area designed for pedestrians, cultural presentations or shops for local products, a cultural center, a padian (market), a plaza; the area fronting Lake Lanao “envisioned to be a park so that tourists can stroll and because this offers a very good view of the Lanao Lake.”
Agus River, he said, will be an “eco corridor with hanging bridges or foot bridges” and green areas will be developed in three sites.
He said the convention center envisioned to be located in the cove on the right side or eastern portion of Marawi City “may be the center of tourism in Marawi City.”
In his presentation at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol in Marawi City on March 21, del Rosario showed a slide on what the Cove envisions: a convention center, tourist core, resorts and waterfront hotels.
Asked on Friday if these will built by the private sector, Del Rosario replied: “we are not building any resort, nor hotel. The convention center will become public facility and owned by the city government.”
In Malacanang, del Rosario assured that “before we can undertake this development and now that we are negotiating with the developer,” they will send a team composed of representatives from the developer, the local government units of Marawi, Lanao del Sur and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and TFBM “to conduct a massive consultation, to present this development plan to the populace so that they will be with us.”
He said they are adopting the strategy of “top-bottom-then up development plan” so the plan is not just the national government’s but also the local government’s and “the different sectors on the ground.”
“We will dialogue with stakeholders to discuss and seek feedback for the proposed development of the most affected area” based on the key issues such as land, a “very critical issue in Marawi City.”
“So we have to go down there and ask them if the width and length of roads would be suitable for their needs. We will locate proposed infrastructure in areas that they say would be acceptable to them,” del Rosario said, adding Marawi’s various sectors will be asked if they are amenable to the construction of a public infrastructure or what other infrastructure would be constructed in the MAA.
He said group discussions will be held with the women and youth sectors, association of vendors, professionals, Sultans, the Imams and Ulama, barangay chair, camp managers of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) , the IDPs themselves, NGOs/CSos, and the academe.
He said the output from these consultations “will be used in the negotiation stage” with the BMC.
On March 29, on the eve of the “M’Balingan Tano sa Ground Zero Peaceful Protest Rally,” the Ranaw Multi Sectoral Movement (RMSM) issued an open letter of appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to grant the Meranaws their right to rebuild Marawi City as they rejected the proposed rehabilitation plans “being imposed upon us” — including an ecozone and a military camp — by “those who live far from us.”
The letter described their future as “threatening” because “forces are moving that threaten to do far greater damage to our people than what the war has done.”
“In the guise of rebuilding our homes, in the guise of laying down the foundations of a better, progressive and modern city, the will and vision of those who live far from us who built this city are being imposed upon us. This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul,” the appeal, distributed via social media and read before the March 30 rally in Marawi, said.
Del Rosario denied the proposed development plan includes an ecozone although acknowledged that Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director-General Administrator Charito Plaza “talked to local government units and she’s proposing if they want to have an ecozone, an economic processing zone. But this is dependent if they want to have. This is not being imposed. It’s an offer; basically all cities want to have an ecozone.”
He said the reports about building an ecozone in Marawi is “a misconception or a deception … because there is no ecozone being planned. It is an offer of PEZA if they want to have. if they don’t want, then so be it.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)