Rehabilitation work in Marawi’s Ground Zero starts

Senator JV Ejercito, Task Force Bangon Marawi chief Eduardo Del Rosario and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra (in hard hats) lead the groundbreaking ceremonies for the rehabilitation of the city on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. FROILAN GALLARDO

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 30 Oct) – Rehabilitation in Ground Zero, the Most Affected Area (MAA) during the five-month siege last year, formally started Tuesday with the groundbraking ceremonies at the Rizal Park here.

Amid the growing frustration of  residents who still have yet to return to their homes more than a year after the fighting ended, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) officials took turns in assuring Marawi residents they will be able to source funds for the estimated P86.5 billion needed, including the proposed 20.5 billion for compensation still pending in Congress.

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said the Department of Budget and Management had earmarked P10 billion this year for the first phase of the rehabilitation, the amount coursed through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

As of October 10, “there are P4.6 billion na may SARO or Statement of Allotment for Release Order; another P3.9 billion is in various stages of processing for release; and P1.5 billion ang balance ngayon ,” Navarro said.

The amount is for priority programs and activities under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) which covers areas outside Ground Zero.

The rehabilitation fund for Ground Zero or the Most Affected Area (MAA), according to TFBM head Eduardo del Rosario, is estimated at P15 billion and will be funded from various sources, including Marawi bonds.

Del Rosario said they estimate the clearing of the rubble in Marawi and the repair of the roads to be finished by 2020.

“After that, phases by phases; sector by sector; you will be allowed to construct your houses,” del Rosario said. He estimates the residents would be able to return by “middle of 2020.”

Still, the pronouncements of these officials did little to assuage the Meranaws.

Zia Alonto, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman and former spokesperson of the defunct Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee said it did not help that President Rodrigo Duterte did not come to lead the ground breaking for the reconstruction of Marawi.

President Duterte will instead be in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday to distribute Certificates of Land Ownership Agreements (CLOA) at the University of Science and Technology of the Philippines.

“Marawi residents need to see the assurance from President that the reconstruction will still be the priority project of his administration,” Adiong said.

Adiong said starting the reconstruction immediately will greatly assure Marawi residents.

Senator JV Ejercito (left) listens to Task Force Bangon Marawi chief Eduardo Del Rosario explain the government rehabilitation plan for Marawi City. President Duterte failed to attend the event, which had been postponed at least 10 times. FROILAN GALLARDO

“They want to see and hear the bulldozers clearing the grounds in Marawi. They have to see and believe that the reconstruction has started,” he said.

The frustration of Marawi residents of Ground Zero  is evident in the social media postings of  individuals and groups,  such as the “I want to go home” movement.

“Today’s Marawi groundbreaking is full of empty talks. It was meaningless,” Tirmizy Abdullah, a professor at the state-run Mindanao State University posted on Facebook.

Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group said the Task Force Bangon Marawi “will never run out of excuses when it comes to rehabilitation of Ground Zero of now occupied Marawi.”

Lininding said this “only highlights the incompetence of the government to fast-track the rehabilitation.”

Marawi leader Agakhan Sharief said he would not be surprised that the government would end up finishing the construction of roads and drainage canals only and “wala na yong mga promises nila na grand central market, convention center, and port facilities,” he said.

Del Rosario mentioned the grand central market, convention cneter, and port facilities as among the features of the rehabilitated Marawi. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)