Demolition of buildings at Marawi’s ground zero starts
MARAWI CITY — Demolition and clearing of structures heavily damaged by the five-month war in 2017 between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute group here began on Thursday, signaling the start of the rebuilding of Marawi, an official of the National Housing Authority (NHA) said.
Ikmat Bantuas, NHA field engineer, assured property owners that CJI General Services, a Batangas province-based contractor which won the contract to clear Sectors 2 to 9 of the city’s ground zero, or the area where heavy fighting was centered, would only demolish structures that were allowed by their owners to be dismantled.
Among the first to be demolished was a building owned by Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra on Osmeña Street at Barangay Sangkay. Gandamra’s property, located inside Sector 5, was one of 409 structures whose owners consented to the demolition, Bantuas said.
“We want to show residents that we are doing it in a proper manner,” he said. “We follow the guidelines. First, the property owner had to be there. Second, all concerned agencies should have signed the demolition permit.”
But Bantuas warned that the crew would no longer return to clear structures whose owners had refused to give their consent.
“If they refused to demolish their structures now but decided to change their minds later, then we would no longer come back,” he said.
The demolition and debris clearing within Sector 1 of the city’s ground zero was stopped in December last year after its contractor failed to secure a demolition permit from the local government and an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
A total of 6,800 structures, classified as nonhabitable, hazardous and heavily damaged, still stand inside the 250-hectare ground zero, according to the NHA.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Debris Clearing, composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Department of Health, will determine which of these remaining structures are still habitable, hazardous and need to be demolished.
Bantuas, however, said the NHA would negotiate with landowners if their structures needed to be cleared to give way to government projects, like road widening or the construction of public facilities.
“We’ll find ways to get their consent,” he said.
Bantuas said some property owners were reluctant to give their consent because they thought they might lose portions of their properties once their structures were demolished.
The Task Force Bangon Marawi, however, assured this would not happen. “We will document everything. We want to show them their properties will be restored, nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
Edsel Alan Manigbas, deputy project manager of CJI, said the firm was given eight months to finish the demolition.
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