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Long wait over: Marawi rehabilitation starts

Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, Chairperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi, leads the groundbreaking ceremony at the ground zero in Marawi City on October 30, 2018. PHOTO by Richel V. Umel/Inquirer Mindanao)

MARAWI CITY — The groundbreaking rites for the city’s rehabilitation finally pushed through at ‘ground zero’ on Tuesday and is expected to pave the way for the start of rebuilding this war-torn city.

President Duterte, however, was absent during the ceremony led by Housing Secretary Eduardo  Del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, and government and military officials at the former Rizal Park inside the Main Affected Area (MAA).

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Del Rosario said in a press briefing that FinMat International Resources Inc. would undertake the clearing and debris management operations in MAA’s sector one, which include Mapandi, Tulali, and Dagubduban.

“After completing the clearing operation of Sector One, we will determine if the company can undertake the role of debris clearing of the main area,” Del Rosario said.

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National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Undersecretary  Adora Navarro said a P10-billion fund had been earmarked for Marawi from the national disaster risk reduction and management (NDRRM) fund of the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“As of October 10 this year, P4.6 billion of the funds has been released, while P3.9 billion are now in the process (of being released), which means, there is still some P1.5 billion left,” Navarro said.

Del Rosario reiterated President Duterte’s commitment to see Marawi rise into a prosperous city again.

“That is the promise of Task Force Bangon Marawi,” he said. “We will strictly follow the instruction of the President.”

The official said that aside from debris management, they will also widen road networks, install underground utilities, power and communication lines, and build 320 classrooms, 24 barangay halls with health centers and madrasa in the most affected areas.

“In Padian will rise a grand central  market within a one-hectare floor area, a convention center that can accommodate 2,000 people and a centralized sewerage treatment plant to protect the waters of Lake Lanao at Agus River,” he added.

He said the rehabilitation of Marawi would cost about P80 billion, but it would be “immaterial” in rehabilitating the city. “What is important is for (the people) to restore (their)  normal lives,” he said.

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He also disclosed that the government had eyed foreign contractors to undertake the rehabilitation. “But now,  we will allow credible local contractors to participate in the rehabilitation,” he said.

Del Rosario met different contractors from Cagayan de Oro City and other areas in Mindanao at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. He said it would cost P900 million to P1 billion to construct the new mosques that would replace the 25  mosques destroyed during the fighting.

Meanwhile, he estimated the debris clearing, debris management, and the construction of a new road network to take about one year and six months.

“We will allow you to construct your houses and it will happen in the mid of 2020, provided you get your building permits from the Marawi City hall,” he said.  “You cannot construct a house without permit or registration from the city government,” he said.

No more delays
The groundbreaking rites for Marawi City’s rehabilitation was initially set in June. However, problems in the procurement process forced the government to postpone it several times.

Task Force Bangon Marawi then set the ceremony on October 17, the first anniversary of President Duterte’s declaration of the city’s liberation from terrorist forces. But conflict in the schedule of the President led to another postponement of the symbolic groundbreaking.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would personally like to join our countrymen and witness this historic occasion, but he has to attend to equally important issues and affairs of the nation,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday.

Panelo noted that Duterte commended Task Force Bangon Marawi for “developing and implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery program, in consultation with Muslim leaders, towards the rebuilding of a peaceful and prosperous Islamic city of Marawi that we all aspire.”

“The groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the most affected area in Marawi City was greeted with much enthusiasm, hope and joy by the residents thereof, including those internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ulamas, as well as civil society organizations and concerned local government units, among others,” Panelo said.

Recently, Panelo admitted that Duterte was “exasperated” by the long delay in the rehabilitation of the affected areas in Marawi.

READ: Palace says Duterte ‘exasperated’ by snail-paced Marawi rehab

“He [Duterte] was exasperated, but then again tapos na ‘yun… maguumpisa na eh [that was done, it will now start],” Panelo said in a recent Palace briefing.

The Marawi siege, which erupted in May 2017, took the lives of at least 1,100 civilians, soldiers, and terrorists.

The terrorists were aiming to establish a stronghold in Mindanao, which will serve as the center of an Islamic State caliphate. /ee

Senator JV Ejercito joins Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, Chairperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi, Mayor Majul Gandambra, and military officials during the lowering of capsule at the groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation of Marawi City on October 30, 2019. PHOTO by  Richel V.Umel/ Inquirer Mindanao

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