Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi to meet on Monday

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 September) – The Senate’s newly-reconstituted Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation, now chaired by Senator Ronald dela Rosa, will hold its organizational meeting and listen to a briefing on Monday.

Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi, the inter-agency body for the “recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the city of Marawi and other affected localities,” on Sunday told MindaNews he would be at the Special Committee’s meeting on Monday.

Dela Rosa chairs the Special Committee, with Senator Francis Tolentino as vice chair and Senators Christopher Lawrence Go, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos, Emmanuel Pacquiao and Aquilino Pimentel III as members.

Heavy duty backhoe excavators tear down buildings at the back of Grand Mosque in Marawi City on Wednesday, Sept 4, 2019. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Four of the seven committee members are from Mindanao: Dela Rosa, Go, Pacquiao and Pimentel.

Zubiri, another Mindanawon, filed Resolution 66 seeking to reconstitute the Special Committee that was set up in August 2017 (chaired by then Senator Gregorio Honasan) with the same mandate: to “study, review, assess, examine, investigate and inquire” into four major issues: extent of damage to properties, infrastructure and facilities such as roads, bridges schools, hospitals, buildings and other structures; estimated cost of construction and rehabilitation; actions necessary for immediate post-disaster recovery, rehabilitation and normalization of the community; and other matters for the city’s reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The Special Committee was supposed to have submitted a report 90 days from the date it was first convened but at the end of the 17th Congress on June 4, 2019, the life of the Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation was “terminated without fully accomplishing its mandated tasks.”

A press release posted on the Senate website on September 25, titled “Many still homeless and jobless despite huge donations & government spending; Senate revives special committee on Marawi City rehabilitation” quoted Zubiri as saying that the goal of the Special Committee is to “promote the welfare of victims of the five-month Marawi siege from May 23 to October 23 in 2017.”

Zubiri said he is sad that even if the government successfully routed the terrorists in Marawi two years ago, “the suffering continues for our Muslim Filipino brothers. They have endured war, now they have to put up with slow utilization of the rehabilitation funds some of which are donations from Islamic countries.”

The Senate press release added that the Department of Finance (DOF) had estimated that complete rehabilitation will entail P72.2 Billion with the National Government (NG) raising P67.99 Billion “as the Marawi Rehabilitation fund from various sources, as follows: P41.81Billion from NG; P6.64B from humanitarian aid by the country’s bilateral & multilateral partners; and, P35.17B from development partners in the form of concessional loans & grants.”

It said that as of September 1, 2019, the national government has released P12.4 Billion, of which P10.9 B was for relief & livelihood assistance and P1.5 B for shelter component by the National Housing Authority.

Senate Resolution 66 also noted reports that “funds accumulated from government appropriations and donations intended for the victims of the Marawi City siege and for the rehabilitation of Marawi City are poorly utilized or otherwise released and utilized to sponsor the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) expenses of select individuals instead of addressing the damage caused by the Marawi City crisis to property, infrastructure and facilities which require extensive repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction works and activities.”

Zubiri’s resolution also cited reports that “in view of the slow progress in rehabilitation, there are still a huge number of displaced families and individuals and continued loss of economic opportunities as well as physical, emotional and psychological distress of the Marawi City siege victims.”

Dismayed

Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group welcomed Zubiri’s resolution reconstituting the Special Committee but expressed dismay over its composition and proposed that Zubiri chair it instead.

“We are dismayed by the composition of the said committee now chaired by Senator Bato De La Rosa and Majority of its members known to be loyal to the President like Bong Go, Imee and Tolentino,” Lininding said, adding they “suspect that with them, they will further exonerate this administration of any wrongdoings and accountability during the Marawi Siege, Emergency and humanitarian Response and early recovery rehabilitation programs.”

Lininding recalled that Honasan “failed to call hearings for Marawi” and “literally sat on resolutions filed regarding Marawi.”

Zubiri, he said, “is the right person” to chair the Special Committee “and ensure the immediate return of Marawi residents in the Main Affected areas.”

He said they have confidence in Zubiri because he was instrumental in championing the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law last year.

But Lindining also said they are “still hoping and appealing to the members of the said committee to put the welfare of displaced residents their priority.”

“Next month na po ang pangalawang taon simula nung ideklara na Liberated na ang Marawi. Anyare? Bakit bakwit pa rin kami?” (Next month is two years from the declaration of Marawi’s liberation. What happened? Why are we still evacuees?), Lininding asked.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017.

 

Residents in the 24 barangays of Ground Zero or the Most Affected Area, have yet to return home two years after “liberation.”

 

TFBM chair del Rosario told MindaNews on Sunday that the deadline for clearing of unexploded ordnance in Ground Zero will be “not later than 31 October) while clearing of the debris will be “not later than 30 November” this year.

Del Rosario in March vowed the clearing would be done by August 30.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Thursday passed Resolution 112 (see other story) constituting a special committee to “look into the status of the Marawi recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindNews)

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