THE CEREMONIAL groundbreaking for war-torn Marawi City’s rehabilitation will hold on Oct. 31, Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chairperson, announced last Friday. In an interview over government station Radyo Pilipinas, Mr. del Rosario said the target completion date for the reconstruction of the city’s “most affected area” (MAA) is still December 2021, as indicated in the original timeline. The groundbreaking ceremony was originally set Oct. 17, considered as Marawi’s “liberation day,” but it had to be moved in consideration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s availability. He said actual rehabilitation work at the MAA has already started with debris clearing operations. “The developer is mobilizing now… They can conduct initial debris clearing so that when the groundbreaking is done, reconstruction can begin,” he said in mixed Filipino and English. Asked about the delays in reconstruction, Mr. Del Rosario explained that TFBM had to change the mode of procurement into a negotiated agreement, following legal advise that a joint venture agreement was not applicable to the rehabilitation efforts. A build-operate-transfer option was also dropped as it is seen to further delay rehabilitation work. He further said that a technical working group composed of representatives from national government agencies had been formed to provide direction to the developer.