DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 April) — A consortium of Chinese and Filipino firms will build the “new Marawi” within the 250-hectare Ground Zero, the former Main Battle Area in the five-month siege last year, now referred to as Most Affected Area (MAA).
The proposal of Bagong Marawi Consortium, composed of five Chinese and four local firms and led by China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd. “was already selected and negotiation for the terms of reference, costing and project details will start April 2” and the Swiss Challenge will be undertaken by first week of May, Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) told MindaNews Sunday afternoon.
Asked what firms comprise Bagong Marawi Consortium, del Rosario replied in a text message: “five Chinese and four local.” He said the group is “led by China State” but “I don’t recall the eight others.”
While negotiations are going on between “the Developer and Technical Working Group,” a team composed of representatives from the local government units of Marawi, Lanao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, TFBM and the Developer will also conduct “ground consultations (with) all stakeholders” on the second and third week of April, he said.
“The team’s output will be incorporated in the negotiation to come up with the final MAA Rehab and Development Plan,” del Rosario said, adding they are targeting the last week of April as deadline as this will be subjected to Swiss Challenge on the first week of May.
Four months ago, del Rosario explained to a press briefing in Malacanang on December 1, that they were not going to conduct public bidding for the rehabilitation of Marawi but awarding of contracts will be through Swiss Challenge.
“Ang ginawa natin dito, we called all probable developers, big-time developers, foreign and national. We allowed them to see the most affected area, ‘yung 24 barangays. And they will be submitting their unsolicited proposal. Pagka na-i-submit ‘yung unsolicited proposal, I will have it presented to the Cabinet para ma-decide kung alin ‘yung the best concept na pwedeng i-apply sa Marawi City,” he said.
“Kasi dapat makita natin dito na talagang at the end of the day, it’s a new city, lalo na ‘yung central business district at talagang mapaganda natin, hindi lang better but much, much better. ‘Pag na-select ‘yung isang proponent, this will be subjected to Swiss challenge. But that any developer can challenge that development project with corresponding amount. Let’s say, sinabi niya, ‘We will do it at 100 billion.’ Here comes another developer: ‘O … we can do it similarly for 75 billion.’ Pag nag-challenge at hindi kaya nung initial proponent ‘yung 75 billion, the project will go to the other developer,” he said.
Del Rosario said the Swiss Challenge is a faster process than going through public bidding.
On February 5, President Duterte issued Executive Order 49 exempting the National Housing Authority from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) guidelines on Joint Venture Agreements to expedite the implementation of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in the most affected areas of Marawi City.”
In lieu of public bidding, the alternative means of awarding contracts in Ground Zero is through Swiss Challenge. EO 49 “shall guide the reconstruction process of the most affected area through a joint venture scheme.”
In his presentation on Day 1 of the Multi Sectoral Forum at the Provincial Capitol in Marawi City on March 20, Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, TFBM field office manager, included a slide on the “MAA Rehabilitation Timeline” that shows February 8 as the deadline for publication of guidelines and procedures; February 12 for receipt of unsolicited proposals; February 13 to 20 for evaluation of proposals; March for negotiation and conferment of OPS (Original Proponent Status); April for the Swiss Challenge: and May for awarding of contracts and groundbreaking. Project completion is due “end of 2021.”
On Sunday, del Rosario said the Swiss Challenge will be held first week of May. Last week, he told MindaNews the Swiss Challenge will take three weeks.
On March 21, del Rosario presented on Day 2 of the Multi Sectoral Forum a slide presentation on the “new Marawi,” the logo on the slides representing his office, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council: a Marawi with a lakeside promenade, cultural center, resorts, hotels, convention centers, a city green, an eco-corridor, etc.
Asked on Sunday if what he presented on March 21 was already the proposal of the Consortium, Del Rosario replied “yes.”
Although the perspectives he showed looked impressive, many of the Ground Zero residents who attended the forum told MindaNews: “where is the Meranaw there?” “whose perspective is this?” “that proposed hotel over there, that’s where our house is.” They also sought answers to questions that had been bugging them in the last ten months: can they go back and rebuild their homes and shops? what about compensation? reparation, etc..
Invasion of different kind
On March 29, on the eve of the “M’Balingan Tano sa Ground Zero Peacful 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 rally in Marawi last Friday, said.
Del Rosario told MindaNews on Friday that the claims of RMSM have “no reasonable basis since the LGUs (local government units) have been part of our consultation process.”
“We intend to cascade our initial development plan to all sectors this April before its finalization. I have emphasized during our multi-sectoral consultation that it will be a top-bottom-up process but this group (referring to RMSM) refuses to listen, understand and accept the process,” he said.
On Saturday night, the NEDA submitted the finaldraft of the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) to del Rosario, according to NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro.
The submission to TFBM was according to schedule: March 31. According to the timeline, it is supposed to be presented to President Duterte on the first week of April.
“We intend to present it to President Duterte during the Cabinet meeting on April 4,” Del Rosario told MindaNews. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews