Delay in rehab tests patience in Marawi
MARAWI CITY — The delay in the start of rehabilitation work in areas razed to the ground by war between government forces and followers of Islamic State (IS) was starting to test the patience of residents and even an official involved in bringing the country’s only Muslim city back on its feet.
Some groups, though, said while they considered the delay a “big disappointment,” they also saw it as a blessing in disguise.
The government has reset groundbreaking rites that would mark the start of the rehabilitation program twice.
The developer, a Chinese-led consortium, that was to rebuild the area and had won the bidding failed to meet key requirements. The vacuum has yet to be filled.
“It is a disappointment,” said Drieza Lininding, head of the Moro Consensus Group.
“But at the same time, a blessing in disguise, since the Duterte administration and Marawi residents still have the time and opportunity to sit down and discuss once again the many issues surrounding the city’s recovery plan,” Lininding said.
The developer who failed to meet requirements was a Chinese-led consortium but most Maranao were wary of Chinese and other outsiders.
Tirmizy Abdullah, an associate professor at Mindanao State University in Marawi, expressed fear about the participation of Chinese companies in the rehabilitation.
“The people don’t want that the government use Chinese money in the rehabilitation since they know that it is not for free,” he said.
“Maranao people have a strong spirit of resiliency and we believe that we don’t need to borrow from China just to recover,” he added.
Let us do it
He reiterated a call being made by displaced Marawi residents—for the Task Force Bangon Marawi to restore basic services and facilities in villages that had become battlegrounds between the military and IS followers from Maute and Abu Sayyaf.
The people, Abdullah said, should just be allowed to return and rebuild their communities.
Assemblyman Zia Adiong, of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said it would have been better if the government had handed the contract to capable local companies.
“If only the government is getting local contractors, then this wouldn’t take too long,” Adiong said.
“There are many local contractors that are capable,” he said.
He said the people of Marawi had been expecting rehabilitation to start in June. But it was moved to July and again to August.
He said people, including him, were getting impatient.
“As resident of ground zero, I am getting impatient now,” he said.
“If I, who lives in a comfortable place, am getting impatient, how much more for those who are living in evacuation tents and temporary shelters and those who are living with relatives?” Adiong said.
“The process is getting too long already,” he said. “Too long.” —Reports from Divina Suson and Jigger Jerusalem
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.