Marawi rehab now 72% complete a month before Duterte steps down

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Marawi City (CNN Philippines, May 21) — With the goal of finishing the task before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down on June 30, the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said the rehabilitation of the war-torn city is 72% complete.

While still unfinished, several infrastructure projects were inaugurated as part of the peace week leading to the fifth anniversary of the Marawi Siege on Monday.

"Seventy-two percent ay natapos na (Seventy-two percent has been completed)," said Housing Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario in a press conference. "This has yet to be completed just like this Rizal Park."

"So kung matatapos itong sports complex, convention center, Grand Pagadian Market, and all barangay hall projects in the third quarter (If the sports complex, convention center, Grand Pagadian Market, and all barangay halls will be finished by third quarter), we will have 89 percent completion," added Del Rosario, who concurrently chairs the TFBM — the agency that oversees the Marawi Rehabilitation Project.

Del Rosario said the remaining 11 percent, which is P2.9 billion-worth of projects, is still up for procurement.

The Sarimanok Sports Stadium, which faces Lake Lanao, is a P200 million project that is intended to be completed by August this year. Its athletic oval is already functional and was already used for a sports fest. 

The Rizal Park, meanwhile, is situated in the middle of the convention center and the School of Living Tradition complex. While the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal is not there yet, an image of the national hero on a tarpaulin was temporarily used instead. 

Five years since the war, it is notable that the developed areas are surrounded by rubble indicating that many Maranaos have not yet returned to the most affected communities to rebuild their homes.

"Ilang beses kaming pinangakuan na babalik. Masakit siya na reality kasi pangako siyang napako at pangakong pinapako paulit-ulit," said Jalilah Sapiin, a member of Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW), a civic group composed of internally displaced people (IDP) of the Islamic City.

[Translation: We have been promised for a long time. It’s a harsh reality because it was a broken promise that's being broken repeatedly.]

Based on the April 2022 report of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, there are 17,793 families who are from ground zero.

Out of some 2,700 applications to rebuild their homes, the city government of Marawi has issued permits to 1,201. Only 95 homes have been rehabilitated and 361 are still under construction.

"If we will allow them to just come in without the regulatory powers being imposed by the city government, it will be chaotic," Del Rosario pointed out.

"Ang problema kasi sa iba, ayaw gumawa, dumaan sa proseso ng tama," he explained. "Mag-aaway-away lang sila dahil there are many claimants in one or two lots (The problem with some people is that they don’t want to work and follow the right process. Claimants are just fighting over lots)."

Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra said the establishment of power and water lines, which are essential for the return of the displaced families, are still ongoing.

"We are ready to accept applicants for building permits so that they can start rebuilding their houses in those sectors na nalagyan na po natin ng elektripikasyon (which we have put electricity)," Gandamra told CNN Philippines. "As for water supply, we are waiting for LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration) because they are the implementing agency."

Del Rosario disclosed that LWUA was not able to meet its promised time frame to finish the water system in the area due to some procurement issues. The TFBM chairman said he and Gandamra will sit down with the agency on Tuesday to get clarification on the issue and, if possible, help in speeding up the process.

"We thought all the while that everything is okay as far as the bidding process and award were concerned," Del Rosario said. "But unfortunately, it has not started yet."

"But I was told then that it can be completed in six months time..." he added. "And we expect most residents to be coming over and start the repair and construction, the way we see it, most likely by the end of the year or the first quarter of next year."

The government said rebuilding a war-torn city is a daunting task and they have to make sure that they do it correctly in the fastest way they can. But for displaced residents, apart from the infrastructure projects, they hope that the government will also look after their welfare following years of suffering.

"Maganda na there are series of inaugurations pero sana rin balikan natin ang sitwasyon ng mga IDPs," said Sapiin of MRCW. "Kumustahin sana natin sila. Maganda sana na kasama sa commemoration is yung celebration na masabi ng IDPs na maayos ang buhay nila. But it's not."

[Translation: It’s okay to have a series of inaugurations but I hope we remember the situation of IDPs. We should ask how they are doing. It would have been better if we could celebrate the commemoration wherein the IDPs could say they are okay. But it’s not the case.]

The rubble in Marawi's ground zero will always be a reminder of the adversity the war had caused to its people. Once they are cleared and new structures are built, many Maranaos are hopeful that they can finally regain their dignity and live in peace.