Groundbreaking rites for Marawi’s Ground Zero plan moved to 1st week July

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 June) — Groundbreaking rites to mark the start of the reconstruction of Marawi’s Ground Zero has been moved to the first week of July as negotiations with the Chinese-Filipino consortium that will undertake the project are still ongoing, Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, Housing Secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chair said.

The groundbreaking was initially targeted for June 7, later moved to June 16, June 21, last week of June and finally on the first week of July.

“Still ongoing but I was informed that negotiations will be over by tomorrow (Tuesday, June 5) and I still have to see the final nego results on Wednesday, the NHA (National Housing Authority) Board has to approve the final nego  agreement on Thursday so the Swiss Challenge will start on Friday,” del Rosario told MindaNews Monday evening.

On Tuesday evening, he said the Selection Committee and the Proponent will present the plan to him on Wednesday “for finalization” and the Swiss Challenge will start on Friday or Saturday, “depending on the outcome of the presentation on Wednesday.

On Wednesday evening, Del Rosario said negotiations are still ongoing but they have completed around 90%. He added, “negotiations will continue until Saturday” and they hope to start the Swiss Challenge “Monday or Tuesday” (June 11 or 12).

“I Love Marawi” site peppered with bullets. MindaNews photo 08 May 2018 by BOBBY TIMONERA

Asked what the remaining 10% are, he replied in a text message: “four minor items out of 22 projects/programs.”

What these 22 projects are, the TFBM has yet to announce.

But the cost for the Ground Zero plan, according to the chair of the inter-agency task force for the “recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi and other affected localities,”will not be beyond 20 billion pesos.”

The plan for the areas outside Ground Zero — the Bangon Marawi Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) — will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte for final approval during the Cabinet meeting on June 11, he said.

Asked why the negotiations with the proponent consortium for Ground Zero took so long, Del Rosario replied it was due to “quality and price issues.”

In earlier pronouncements, May 31 was supposed to be the the target for awarding of the contract.

“Two-pronged approach”

The proponent firm, Bagong Marawi Consortium (BMC) for Ground Zero is composed of five Chinese and four Filipino firms.

Comprising 250 hectares spread across 24 barangays (Marawi has 96),  Ground Zero was the main battle area between government forces and the IS-inspired Maute Group and its allies during the five months — May 23 to October 23, 2017 — when Marawi was under siege. It is now referred to as the MAA or most affected area.

The rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi and affected municipalities in Lanao del Sur will take a two-pronged approach — for Ground Zero and outside Ground Zero, Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro of the NEDA’s Regional Development Office told the Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum at the Provincial Gym in Marawi City on March 20.

The two-pronged approach for the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction of Marawi, according to the NEDA presentation in Marawi on 20 March 2018

The BMCRRP covers programs and projects located in Marawi but outside Ground Zero, and in Lanao del Sur’s Butig and Piagapo towns which suffered damages following armed clashes between the Maute Group and government forces in 2016 and 2017.

For Ground Zero, EO 49 “will be the guide in the reconstruction process” through a joint venture scheme, she said.

EO 49, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last February 5, exempts the National Housing Authority from the NEDA Guidelines on joint venture agreements “to expedite the implementation of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in the most affected areas of Marawi City.”

Instead of public bidding, government is subjecting the proposal to a Swiss Challenge, an alternative method for awarding contracts “where any developer can challenge that development project with corresponding amount,” del Rosario said.

“Let’s say, sinabi niya, ‘We will do it at 100 billion.’ Here comes another developer: ‘O we can only do it… we can do it similarly for 75 billion.’ Pag nag-challenge at hindi kaya nung initial proponent ‘yung 75 billion, the project will go the other developer,” del Rosario told Malacanang reporters last December 1,  adding, “parang mas better ito at mas mabilis na gawing proseso instead of bidding. But instead we will go to the mode of Swiss challenge. Parang bidding din pero faster and better.”

Programs, projects and activities (PPAs) under the BMCRRP will focus on six sectors: local governance and peacebuilding; housing and settlement; livelihood and business development; physical infrastructure; social services; and land resource management.

10 billion

On May 4, Navarro told Malacanang reporters during a briefing on Bangon Marawi, that the task force had listed some 900 PPAs worth 55 billion pesos but they were still vetting it.

Del Rosario had earlier estimated the total project cost for Ground Zero and outside Ground Zero at 75 billion — 55 billion for BMCRRP and 20 billion for Ground Zero.

In the BMCCRP update as of April 12, 2018 where 902 PPAs were listed, the budget required in 2018 is 27.6 billion pesos and 27.3 billion for 2019 to 2022.

Of the 27.6 billion peso fund requirement for 2018, only 10 billion pesos has been allocated in the 2018 budget.

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

Navarro said on May 4 that there is a 10 billion peso budget lodged with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for the Marawi rehab allocated for 2018 and TFBM is “already accepting proposals for funding under the 10 billion NDRRM fund” and that proposals were being processed “batch by batch.. and there is a greater firming up of procedures once the BMCRRP is approved.”

“Now with respect to the fund sources, so how are we going to fund the close to 55-billion peso PPAs? Government funds, we’ve committed 10 billion pesos from the NDRRMC fund that’s in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and a provisional 5 billion (pesos) under the unprogrammed appropriations in the 2018 GAA,” she said.

“Why provisional?,” Navarro asked. “Because it will depend on whether the government will have excess revenues ‘no — excess collection from BIR (Bureau of Customs). and the Bureau of Customs. Regular agency budgets are also sources of funds, and the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) also committed some portion of their budget for Marawi,” she said. Navarro also cited “donations from private sector and non-government agencies and other non-profit organizations” but did not say how much has been raised.

MindaNews asked del Rosario on June 3 how the P10-billion fund will be allocated between Ground Zero and outside Ground Zero. His reply: “the approval of BMCRRP that covers projects from 2018-2022 is actually a formality since projects for 2018 (are) being implemented already by the agencies concerned. The 10B is only for areas outside MAA for 2018. Budget for MAA is separate from BMCRRP and budget for MAA is not needed this year.”

Del Rosario had earlier said the first steps that will be done in the joint venture for Ground Zero is “debris clearing” which involves the demolition of structures with consent of the owners, and “site development,” which includes the road network and the underground utilities for water, electricity and telecommunications. He said this will take “about 18 months” from the groundbreaking.

Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario visits Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City on 25 October 2017. Sagonsongan is the site of the transitional shelters for displaced residents. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Del Rosario told MindaNews in early April that residents in Ground Zero will be able to return to the area to rebuild their homes and stores “most likely first quarter 2020.”

Before the siege started on May 23, 2017, the population in what is now Ground Zero, according to TFBM is 27,000 families — 11,163 of them home owners while the rest are “sharers and renters.”

Marawi City’s total population as of the 2015 census was 201,785.As the trading center and seat of power of Lanao del Sur, Marawi City is the most populous area in the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development had recorded a total of 78,466 families or 359,680 persons from Marawi and neighboring towns displaced by the five-month armed conflict.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)