Task Force Bangon Marawi led a groundbreaking ceremony for new community facilities in Marawi City last March 2023. — pia.gov.ph

An Islamic city filled with towering mosques and concrete houses, a center for culture and the arts at the heart of Mindanao, and a source of great pride not only to Maranaws who lived there but also to all the Muslims in the Philippines. Marawi City was once the jewel of the Filipino Muslim community. But after an attack led by the Islamic State-linked Maute group in 2017 that took the lives of over 1000 militants and civilians, left another 360,000 homeless, and devastated what was once a bustling area, the city needed to rebuild from ashes and bulletshells to return to its former glory.

Now, over six years after its liberation from the militant group, Marawi City is close to being its former self with significant help from the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

The DHSUD is the primary government agency responsible for housing, human settlement, and urban development. Under the department is the interagency Task Force Bangon Marawi (TBFM) established through Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 03 for the recovery reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the City of Marawi and other affected localities.

With their achievements in the rehabilitation of Marawi City, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. commended the DHSUD and TBFM’s work in rebuilding once besieged city.

“Five years after the siege, Marawi City will rise again. The city’s vitality has come back. Various projects have been completed, and many infrastructures have been built,” Mr. Marcos said in Filipino during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on June last year.

Among the projects that were completed by the DHSUD and TBFM and turned over to the Marawi local government unit and the Marawi Sultanate league during Mr. Marcos’ presidency include: the Sarimanok Sports Stadium, the Marawi Convention Center, 19 barangay halls with madrasah and health clinics in the most affected areas, the Marawi City Museum, School of Living Traditions and Restored Historical Landmark, Central Material Recovery Facility, and Trading Post/Food Terminal.

Another project, the ”Torogan”, locally known as a royal house, was built by the TBFM in Brgy. Sagongsongan, Marawi City. The new building will serve as a meeting area and offices for Marawi’s traditional leaders.

Close to 2,800 permanent shelters were also planned by the DHSUD to be constructed for internally displaced persons (IDP). As of November 2022, nearly 1,900 permanent shelters and almost 5,000 transitory shelters have been built across Marawi, according to the department’s website.

These houses for IDPs were jointly constructed by the TFBM, the National Housing Authority (NHA), the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), the Social Housing Finance Corporation, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Recently, TBFM Chairperson Jose Rizalino L. Acuzar launched the Kawiyagan Trade Fair and inaugurated three completed units of four-story, 20-classroom school buildings in Brgy. Moncado Kadingilan in Marawi City. Meanwhile, the NHA, under the DHSUD, also awarded 254 permanent shelter units in Brgy. Kilala to the beneficiaries.

In March 2023, the DHSUD broke ground for a project intended to build 18 structures worth P200 million that includes a multi-purpose covered court, daycare center, wet and dry market, transport terminal, health center, material recovery facility, livelihood building, and police outposts.

Currently, the DHSUD is monitoring the implementation of 26 ongoing programs including the Marawi City General Hospital by the Department of Health, the construction of several more school buildings by the Department of Education, and the construction of the New Marawi City Jail by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Utmost priority is also given to sustainable water and power supplies through other programs: the Bulk Water Supply project and the energization of the most affected areas in the city spearheaded by the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc.

To reduce delays on these projects and expedite recovery efforts, President Marcos signed Administrative Order No. 14 which streamlined government agencies involved in the Marawi rebuild.

However, under the order, the TBFM ceased its operations on Dec. 31, 2023, and will be functus officio by March 31. The DHSUD will still oversee the construction of shelters for displaced persons.

Finally, Mr. Marcos also said on his second SONA that financial reparations will be paid to qualified Marawi IDPs through the “Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act “otherwise known as Republic Act 11696.

“We are currently processing financial aid for the victims of the Marawi siege so that they can start over. May hope prevail. May hope, vigilance, and aspirations for peace and progress continue,” Mr. Marcos said.

Indeed, Marawi City is returning to its former glory through the initiatives of the DHSUD and what was TFBM. Over six years after the siege, the country’s lone Islamic City is soon to be the jewel of the Filipino Muslim community once again. — Jomarc Angelo M. Corpuz