DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 March) – President Rodrigo Duterte will now oversee the rehabilitation of Marawi and promised representatives of displaced Marawi residents in a four-hour meeting in Malacanang Wednesday night that he would visit the city once a month to check on its progress.
“The President assured us na he will be on top of this rehab, tatapusin nya ito, hindi tayo papabayaan’ (he will finish this, he will not abandon us), Aslani Montilla, President of Siyap Ko Pagtaw Operations For People Empowerment Inc. in Marawi City, told MindaNews.
Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group said the President repeatedly asked “ano ang problema” (what is the problem) that the rehabilitation has taken so long.
Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017 and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated combat operations on October 23, exactly five months to the day the Marawi siege began.
Lininding said the President wants the rehabilitation completed in less than two years.
The Duterte administration has only two years and three months left of its six-year term.
Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, an inter-agency task force created for the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi, has repeatedly said the rehabilitation will be completed by yearend 2021 or 21 months from now.
Lininding said the meeting lasted some four hours because the President wanted all the problems about Marawi rehab discussed.
He told MindaNews in a telephone interview that he and other representatives of internally displaced persons (IDPs) were able to air their sentiments. “Medyo mainit ang usapan” (heated discussions), he said.
Cabinet secretaries of agencies involved in rehabilitation were also present, he said.
He said there were about 20 IDP representatives who attended the meeting from Marawi and those temporarily based in Metro Manila.
Montilla said Duterte ordered the Department of Budget and Management to hasten the release of funds.
On the demand for unconditional return to Ground Zero, the President asked that they be given time to finish installing the basic facilities – water and electricity, he said.
The Malacanang meeting was proposed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go during the public hearing by the Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology in Ilitan City on February 21.
The two-hour and four-minute public hearing ended with Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Committee chair saying the “final solution,” “the ultimate solution” was to have a meeting with President Duterte.
“Wala tayong solusyon kundi yung imprimatur galing sa President para matapos na ito” (We don’t have solution but the imprimatur from President so the rehabilitation can be finished), dela Rosa said.
According to Montilla, dela Rosa at the meeting announced that they had filed Senate Bill 1395 or the Marawi compensation bill, proposing 30 billion pesos from the General Appropriations Act at 10 billion a year for three years.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri had promised during the February 21 public hearing of the Committee in Iligan City that they would file the compensation bill on February 24 and would “prioritize the measure for approval.”
MindaNews checked the website of the Senate and as of 1 p.m. on March 4, found 20 bills filed between February 21 and March 4 – Senate Bills 1372 to 1391 — none of them on Marawi.
MindaNews checked he website of the Senate at 1:05 a.m. on March 5 and found more bills had been filed– 1392, 1392, 1393 and 1396 but no files on SB 1394 and 1395.
When MindaNews checked at 5 p.m. on March 5, the earlier missing SBN 1395 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2020, had been uploaded, the time stamp at 4:07 p.m. on March 4.
Montilla said Duterte also vowed to have the Islamic Center repaired.
He narrated he was able to tell the President during the meeting that the problem in the delays of the rehabilitation is because some agencies are not sincere and “parang gusto pa nilang hindi maayos ang Marawi” (act as if they do not want Marawi rehabilitated).
“Sinagot niya din ito na may mga tamad talaga na tao (He replied that there are really lazy people but pero he assured us na aayusin nila ito), Montilla recalled.
“Alhamdulillah. Napaka positibo po ng meeting,” Montilla said.
Lininding said the President is still pushing for the establishment of a second military camp in Marawi but where it will be set up is still under discussion. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)