Debris clearing of Marawi’s Ground Zero done by August 30, Del Rosario says

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) — Clearing of debris and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) at Marawi’s Ground Zero “will be finished by August 30” that will pave the way for the start of repair works at the main affected area (MAA), Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TBFM) on Tuesday told over a thousand residents who have yet to return home almost two years after Islamic State-inspired militants invaded the city.

Del Rosario, the main guest of the “Consultation Dialogue with the IDPs (internally displace persons) within the MAA (24 barangays) in Marawi City that began on Monday, said MAA residents will be allowed to return by the “first week of September” to repair their destroyed properties.

A member of Task Force Bangon Marawi discusses updates on the unexploded ordnance inside Ground Zero (Most Affected Area)to residents during a dialogue at the Provincial Gym in Marawi City on Tuesday, March 19,2019. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Repair of the least affected areas of the MAA “might even start as early as July” but residents have to get permits first from the city government so they will be allowed to proceed, he added.

“We are doing or best to rehabilitate Marawi,” del Rosario said, noting the government targets to complete Marawi’s rehabilitation “by December 2021” even if construction works have yet to proceed at the MAA.

In October 2018, Del Rosario also gave the same timeline for the completion of Marawi’s rehabilitation works.

Del Rosario said construction of the road network at the MAA “will start by July and that by the end of the year of the first quarter of 2020,” rehabilitation works at the MAA will go full blast .

He urged MAA residents to give their consent for TFBM to demolish their properties, “otherwise you will shoulder the demolition costs after August 30.”

Del Rosario earlier said that an estimated three million tons of debris were left by the Marawi siege at ground zero, an area covering 250 hectares straddling 24 villages.

Del Rosario cried during the open forum of the consultation after Drieza Lininding, chair of the Marawi-based Moro Consensus Group, challenged him to resign by September 1 if the debris is not cleared and the residents not allowed to return to the MAA.

Lininding stressed that MAA residents “have suffered too long from being away from their properties even though they have undergone several profiling after the siege started on May 23, 2017.”

Del Rosario said they did not allow MAA residents to return on concerns over their safety, since 49 UXOs have yet to be recovered.

The core of Marawi was left in shambles after a five-month war erupted between troops and Islamic State-inspired militants in May last year.

The combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups attacked Marawi in a bid to establish an Islamic state in the city.

The Marawi siege uprooted over 350,000 civilians and left some 1,100 persons killed.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi liberated from the clutches of Islamic militants during his seventh visit in the city on October 17, 2017.

The Marawi siege triggered Duterte to impose martial law in the entire Mindanao, which is in effect until December 31, 2019 after Congress extended it for the third time upon the request of the country’s first President from Mindanao.

A public hearing by the Lower House’s sub-committee on disaster and resiliency was slated here on Wednesday, March 20. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)