BTA creates Special Committee on Marawi; UXOs cleared by end of October

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Sept) — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Thursday passed Resolution 112 constituting a special committee to “look into the status of the Marawi recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts.”

The resolution is a “consolidation of resolutions relevant to the Marawi Siege.” The creation of the Special Committee comes 23 months after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017.

Task Force Bangon Marawi chief Eduardo del Rosario, MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

In March, Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chair, announced to displaced residents attending a consultation-dialogue at the provincial gym that residents of the 24 barangays in the 250-hectare ‘Ground Zero,’ the former battleground between government forces and the Maute Group in 2017, can finally return to their villages to repair or rebuild their homes by the first week of September 2019 after the debris clearing is done by August 30.

But residents residing near the bridges, in what he said were the ‘least affected areas’ in ‘Ground Zero’ (also known as Most Affected Area or MAA) like Tolali, can start returning by first week of July to repair their residential and commercial structures provided they seek a permit from City Hall and their structures are still considered safe.

In a press conference after the turnover rites for the Boganga transitory shelters in Marawi on April 12, Del Rosario said the “final timetable” was for the clearing of unexploded bombs by August 30 but residents in Sector 1 can return by July to repair or rebuild their homes provided they secure a permit form the city government to rebuild or repair.

He said residents in Sectors 2 and 3 can return in August; Sectors 4 and 5 in September; Sectors 6 and 7 in October and Sectors 8 and 9 in November.

TFBM Field Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, TFBM Field Manager, told MindaNews on Sunday that the ‘one stop shop’ at City Hall started in July where Ground Zero residents can apply for renovation or building permit “to ensure na OK pa yung structure for repair and sila ang legal owner of the land and building.”

Castro said that when the repair or construction is done, the city government will issue an occupancy permit. He said this process is ongoing, under Kathagombalay.

Detonation of unexploded ordnance in Marawi City’s Ground Zero on 03 August 2019. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

The August 30 deadline for clearing has not been met. Del Rosario told MindaNews on Sunday that the clearing of the UXOs will be “not later than 31 October” while clearing of the debris will be “not later than 30 November” this year.

According to Resolution 112, the Special Committee on Marawi Recovery, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation or the Special Committee on Marawi, will be the BTA’s mechanism for “gathering data on and monitoring the status of the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts planned and/or implemented for Marawi City and offering recommendations for the Bangsamoro Government’s appropriate action in relation thereto.”

This, as the Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation which is tasked to “study, review, assess, examine, investigate and inquire” into the progress or lack of progress of the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi, will hold its organizational meeting and briefing on Monday, September 30. (see other story).

The BTA’s Special Committee, according to the resolution, aims to complement the efforts of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), the multi-agency body tasked to oversee the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi and other affected areas.

TONS OF SCRAP IRON. A soldier sizes up a mountain of scrap iron collected from the ruined buildings in Marawi City on Wednesday (4 September 2019). Task Force Bangon Marawi went on full blast to demolish more than 3,000 buildings destroyed during the 2017 siege in the former battleground of Marawi in time for its 2020 deadline. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) provides under Section 13 of Article VI (Intergovernmental Relations) that national programs and projects such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Health Facility Enhancement Program, School Building Program, retained hospitals of the Department of Health, PhilHealth, social pension for senior citizens, and Marawi rehabilitation program shall continue to be funded by the National Government, without prejudice to the power of the Bangsamoro Government to provide for supplemental funding for such programs and projects.”

But any complementary action from the Bangsamoro Government should be based on accurate and complete information on the current status of Marawi City, “including the state of the residents there,” hence the creation of a Special Committee, the resolution said.

The BTA will still discuss who will be the chair and vice chair, as well as members of the Special Committee.

The Special Committee is tasked to: gather data and information on the status of the Marawi recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation; invite relevant national, regional, and/or local government agencies, non-government institutions, local government executives, private experts/individuals, humanitarian agencies, development partners and other resource persons which may share information on the status of the Marawi recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation and issue subpoenas ad testificandum; as well as request for copies of documents from the above named institutions, and issue subpoenas duces tecum.

The Special Committee is also tasked to conduct public consultations, field interviews, surveys, and inspections as may be necessary in the gathering of relevant information; submit periodic reports to the BTA, “especially on the assistance provided by the agencies of the National Government, humanitarian agencies and development partners, to the affected residents/inhabitants;” and to make these hearings and committee reports accessible to the public.

Uncertainty is written on the face of a resident as he paused briefly to rest in Marawi City’s Ground Zero during the Kambisita sa MAA (Most Affected Area) on May 9, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

It is also tasked to submit recommendations to the BTA on the financial, technical, or human resource assistance that the Bangsamoro Government can contribute to the rebuilding, restructuring, rehabilitation, and reconstruction efforts in Marawi City; and perform such other functions as may be determined by the Chair or the BTA

In a statement, Member of Parliament Zia Alonto Adiong, said the special committee will exercise purely plenary powers to inquire, coordinate and recommend to different Ministries in the BARMM “to bridge the gaps in the intervention assistance to the victims of the siege.”

The Special Committee assures the separate and independent participation of the BTA without prejudice to the ongoing rehabilitation efforts by TFBM, said Adiong, one of the sponsors of the resolution, who served as spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Committee during the Marawi Siege in 2017.

“In fact this initiative will supplement the five areas identified as priority intervention under the short and long term master plan adopted by the TFBM. Having to exercise its legislative oversight powers, the Special Committee constitutes an accountability mechanism in order to facilitiate the identification of projects nad programs coming from private partners and international funding institutions to make sure that funds go straight to the target beneficiaries,” Adiong added.

As of September 1, 2019, TFBM records show that out of a total of 5,508 targeted units of transitory shelters, 2,201 have been turned over to beneficiaries. Out of 1,762 completed shelters, 1,462 have been turned over while out of the 3,747 ongoing transitory shelter projects, 739 have been turned over. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)