THE GROUNDBREAKING ceremony for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City finally pushed through on Oct. 30, with the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) head promising completion by 2021.
“We will do it in three years,” Eduardo D. Del Rosario, TFBM chair and secretary general of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said in his speech at the live-streamed time capsule-laying ceremony, which was postponed several times in consideration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s schedule.
The President was not in attendance yesterday due to “changes in schedule,” according to Undersecretary Falconi V. Millar, TFBM Secretariat head, citing an advisory from the Presidential Management Staff.
Mr. Millar said TFBM made the decision to push through with the event.
Calling Mr. Duterte as the “ama (father) of 105 million Filipinos,” Mr. Del Rosario said: “Everyday there are ongoing concerns, very important activities, equally important activities…”
“It doesn’t mean to say that you are not important or the President is not giving priority to the Maranao people [if he is absent from a function]. In fact, I would like to quote this statement when he said, ‘Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again.’”
The entire rehabilitation program for Marawi, considered the main Islamic City of the country, is now estimated to cost P80 billion, according to Mr. Del Rosario.
This includes reconstruction of 24 villages in what has been labelled as the most affected area (MAA), or the ground zero of last year’s five-month battle between government forces and Islamic State-inspired local extremists, as well as the 72 other villages of the city.
Structures in the approximately 250-hectare MAA are 80-100% damaged, according to TFBM.
The Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program involves debris clearing and widening of road networks in the MAA, which is expected to take up to one a half years; setting up underground utilities networks and a centralized sewage system; schools restoration; construction of barangay halls with health center and madrasa; a one-hectare central market; a convention center with capacity for up to 2,000 participants; and a promenade.
The reconstruction of about 25 damaged mosques will be funded through foreign assistance, Mr. Del Rosario said, as this could not be covered by public funds.
Local contractors will be allowed to participate in the rehabilitation process, with TFBM officials scheduled to meet with them in Cagayan de Oro City yesterday afternoon.
Multi-stakeholder groups, meanwhile, will be mobilized for monitoring the implementation of contracts.
“We will organize project monitoring offices (local and national levels) and, aside from that, we are tapping about 50 NGOs (nongovernment organizations) and CSOs (civil society organizations) who will help us in monitoring the implementation of all projects.”
Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra, in his welcome remarks, thanked displaced residents for their “patience.”
“We had to work through budgetary, time and other constraints… To my constituents, I know you have waited a long time for this and I thank you all for your patience,” he said.
“In a few years from now, we hope to see a beautifully and strongly rebuilt Marawi City, which shall be the pride of all Maranao people… We must now make a conscious effort to protect and take care of it by letting go of our previous destructive attitudes, by being good citizens, by being good Muslims.” — Marifi S. Jara with a report from Arjay L. Balinbin