No Marawi ecozone, task force says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 7) — Task Force Bangon Marawi has clarified the government is not building an ecozone in the war-torn city.

"It's a misconception or deception I could say, because there is no ecozone being planned," Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson and housing czar Eduardo del Rosario said in a  Malacañang press briefing Friday.

Under the Special Economic Act of 1995, an ecozone is an area with "highly developed or which have the potential to be developed into agri-industrial, industrial, tourist, recreational, commercial, banking, investment and financial centers."

In January, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said an ecozone may help attract investors to set up processing plants for food and agribusiness, which would result in more jobs for Marawi residents.

Maranao-led groups, however, opposed the government's plan for a Marawi ecozone. They said this was presented to stakeholders in a forum in March but the residents were not consulted about it.

Del Rosario on Friday clarified, it was "just a proposal" from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority under the Department of Trade and Industry.

"And for us, for Task Force Bangon Marawi, we could not impose it," he said, adding all they can do is fix the most affected areas, improve facilities for services like water, electricity, and telecommunications.

The government is working toward the rehabilitation of Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur, which was the battleground of government forces and terrorists from May to October last year. More than 900 terrorists, 47 civilians, and 165 government troops were killed.

Timeline: The Marawi crisis

Some 300,000 residents were displaced by heavy fighting and houses and buildings were turned to rubble.

The task force on Friday revealed up to P75 billion is needed to rebuild and rehabilitate the city.

READ: Gov't negotiating with China-led consortium to rebuild Marawi; initial cost at ₱17-B