Marawi ‘bakwits’ told they’d transfer to Sagonsongan soon but where are the houses?  

SAGONSONGAN, Marawi City (MindaNews / 12 October) — “Come back here on Tuesday,” the Korean contractor told MindaNews Friday afternoon, exuding with confidence that four houses made of “sandwich panels” would have been installed in this transitional shelter site a kilometer away from the welcome arch of the country’s lone Islamic City.

On Tuesday noon, MindaNews returned to the site and saw not a single house standing. Workers were still finishing one of four floorings for the 22 square meter house made of “sandwich panels” — pre-fabricated light metal sheets with styrofoam core and sliding glass windows — on a 36 square meter lot.

As of Tuesday noon, 10 October 2017, workers at the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City had yet to complete the flooring for four houses. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

At the Buru-un evacuation center in Iligan City, evacuees Jaslia Mambuay and Fatimah Lumabao told MindaNews also on Tuesday that Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra visited last month to inform the evacuees they would be able to transfer to Sagonsongan “next month” (October).

Foreman Bobby Lopez of the Golden Gate Construction told MindaNews they started working on the flooring only on Tuesday morning because the steel bars and cement arrived from Davao City, some 420 kilometers away, only on Monday.

“Sandwich panels”

The “sandwich panels” for the roofs and walls arrived on Friday afternoon, just as MindaNews visited the area  to check on the progress of the transitional shelter project. But the steel bars and cement from Davao reached the site only on Monday.

According to Task Force Bangon Marawi,  an initial number of 1,175 houses are to be installed on this 14 hectare-site (earlier announcements said initial 1,100 houses on an 11-hectare site).

For every 1,000 units, the TFBM will provide common facilities such as mosque, madrasah/school building, recreational facilities, health and day care centers, wet and dry market, livelihood center, police barangay outposts and transport terminal. Sagonsongan is around seven kilometers from downtown Marawi.

Overseeing the unloading of the “sandwich panels” on Friday was Danny Seo who introduced himself as “Danny.. Danny Duterte… Danny Paolo Duterte,” before giving out his name. He laughed but later claimed President Rodrigo Duterte’s son, Paolo, the vice mayor of Davao City is his “brother” and youngest son, Sebastian, is his “very good friend.”

Korean national Danny Seo points to a photograph of the houses that will be installed in Barangay Sagonsongan. The houses are made of “sandwich panels” made in Korea. Seo was at the site Friday, 06 October 2012, to oversee the unloading of the panels. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

Vice Mayor Duterte told MindaNews through City Information Officer Jefry Tupas that he does not know Seo. “Na wa gyud ko kaila. Ipadakop lang sa pulis” (I don’t know him. Let the police arrest him), the vice mayor said. Sebastian, in a text message relayed to MindaNews said, “what did he gain from namedropping? If wala then leave him alone.”

Seo identified himself as “chairman of the Golden Gate Board” but quickly added, “no no no. BS Business” in Korea.

A Filipino employee said the business firm is based in Korea and “the local partner is Golden Gate.” Seo’s firm supplies the Korean-made panels that he says was purchased at “factory price.”

Golden Gate has no Board of Directors. It is an Iligan City-based single proprietorship registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in Northern Mindanao  by Al Ghandi Rakiin Umpa, owner and general manager.  Golden Gate is on the list of licensed contractors for 2017 to 2018, as of the September 25, 2017 listing of the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) and is a holder of Philgeps (Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System) Certificate No. 2017-169790 issued on March 24, 2017 until March 24, 2018.

One day installation

The 22-square meter unit, Seo says, is typhoon-and-earthquake resistant. The units have no partitions but there is a comfort room and a kitchen sink.

Asked how much each unit costs, Seo replied: “I don’t know…. secret” but later added “one unit, cement all, total 140,000 (pesos).” Somebody from his team butted in to say 170,000 pesos to include trucking cost.

Workers unload “sandwich panels” at the transitional shelter site in Baranay Sagonsongan on Friday, 06 October 2017. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

Davao City is 420 kilometers from the project site, Cagayan de Oro City is 120 kilometers and Iligan City, 32 kilometers.

It takes only a day to install a unit, Seo said. He claimed they can install 40 houses in one day and is confident they will finish installing all 265 units by November 21. Last Friday, he was certain four units would have been installed by Tuesday.

Asked if they would do all the 1,175 houses, Seo said they would finish 265 units first.

The Korean said they are targeting Dec. 8 “for the cutting ribbon,” referring to inauguration. But the Filipino employee with him reminded him that the National Housing Authority’s timeline is December 22.

Lopez said that if it does not rain, they would need two days for the flooring to dry up. If it rains, it will take longer. It always rains in Marawi, particularly in the afternoons.


Aside from the delayed arrival of materials, what added to the delay in the installation was the absence of a huge cement mixer. In its stead one-bagger cement mixers — all of them apparently new — were used.  MindaNews saw four near the site of the floorings but Lopez said they have a total of five.

He said 20 bags are needed for each flooring.

Lopez explained they were supposed to use a 25-bagger cement mixer but it was not available.

He said Golden Gate has 70 workers for the project. MindaNews saw around 20 at the flooring site.

Only one flooring has been completed at the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City as of Tuesday noon, 10 October 2017. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

A total of 78,466 families or 359,680 persons have been displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi City and neighboring areas, based on the Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards (DAFAC) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in its October 6 report.

Mayor Gandamra told MindaNews that out of this number, at least 40,000 families from Marawi were displaced. He said their initial recommendation was 6,300 transitional shelters for residents at Ground Zero. He said priority for the transitional shelters will be those who have no more homes to return to in Ground Zero, have no capabilities of finding refuge elsewhere, and are willing to stay in the temporary shelters.

He said the local government is monitoring the progress of the project but it is the National Housing Authority that is in charge.

China Jocson, Assistant to the Presidential Spokesperson, told the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacanang on Monday that during the Task Force Bangon Marawi’s 4th All-Agency Meeting at the National Emergency Operations Center in Iligan City last week, it was reported that “the installation of distribution lines for the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi has already been completed.”

MindaNews saw power lines had been installed and connected to the bunkhouse.

Another phase in the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City in this photo taken 10 October 2017. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“Secondary lines connecting to the individual housing units are yet to be installed as source of power, while transitional shelters are being completed,” Jocson said.

On Thursday, when MindaNews checked on the progress by phone, Lopez said the flooring of the four houses have been finished but they were advised by a consultant that installation of the houses will be done only after a seven-day drying up or curing of the concrete flooring. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)