A year after Marawi siege, gov't uncertain when rehabilitation will start
The government is eying the middle of next month as the start of the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged Marawi City.
AFP/Ferdinandh Cabrera
A year after Marawi siege, gov't uncertain when rehabilitation will start
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - May 23, 2018 - 9:25pm

MANILA, Philippines — A year after Marawi City was decimated by a five-month battle, the government is yet to start the rehabilitation of the Islamic city, with officials eyeing the middle of next month as the start of the rebuilding process.

According to Felix Castro, Task Force Bagon Marawi field office manager, it might take between 12 to 18 more months of debris clearing and “horizontal preparations” before residents will be allowed to rebuild their property in the war-ravaged city.

Horizontal preparations include the laying of sewage networks, telecommunications and electricity lines and road expansion.

Castro however admitted that the middle of June is only a target.

When asked if this is already realistic considering that it’s been a year since the siege struck, Castro said, “No, we based it on plans. Because plans are made given the situation, the data available, right?”

READ: Robredo: Listen to Marawi residents on rebuilding efforts

Castro said the government has only identified a proponent for the rehabilitation, not a developer, as negotiations are still ongoing and the final plan is still being threshed out.

He said that input from stakeholders will be considered in crafting the final plan, which would be subject to negotiations with the government.

Only after agreement has been reached will the government would conduct a Swiss challenge, he said.

Castro said that the process is taking this long because they didn’t want to produce a weak plan and disregard the inputs of the affected communities.

READ: Hearings into Marawi siege cause, rehabilitation sought

Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said that an open communication line between the government and the affected communities is important to ensure that people’s frustrations are not used to mount another armed rebellion.

“One day in an evacuation center is already too long for someone who have lost everything. So somewhere along the line, there has to be an open communication between the Task Force, the LGUs and the people,” he said.

On May 23 last year, militants from the Maute group tried to take over Marawi City and convert it to the capital of the Islamic State group’s province in Southeast Asia.

The battle for the control of the city lasted for five months, destroying much of its center and displacing more than 360,000 residents from Marawi and neighboring towns.

The National Economic Development Authority said that more than P50 billion will be needed to rebuild the city, a much lower figure than the estimate given by Eduardo Del Rosario, the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

Castro said that the government would not be touching private property during the rehabilitation of Marawi City as the efforts would only involve government infrastructure.

He said that property of residents would be touched only during road widening but stressed that this would be done with their permission and with compensation.

“We will not demolish private properties without their request. They have to inform us that they want their properties to be included in the debris clearing,” Castro said.

He said that residents would be transferred in the next few months to temporary shelters and explained that residents could not yet return to the city because developers will need to clear the debris first.

READ: Marawi rehabilitation: A patchwork of sketchy plans, loose rules, uncertain funding

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