No date set for Marawi residents to rebuild their homes

Bobby Lagsa
No date set for Marawi residents to rebuild their homes

Bobby Lagsa

Based on the timetable of Task Force Bangon Marawi, clearing of debris is yet to happen on May 10, 2018


MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Residents of the most affected area (MAA) in this war-torn city will be allowed to reconstruct their homes after all the debris from the destruction has been cleared.

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said the task of clearing the area is to be jointly undertaken by the government and the private sector that will be tapped to reconstruct the city. 

TFBM Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro said that the government reconstruction efforts are focused right now on government buildings and infrastructure.

Based on the timetable of TFBM, clearing of debris is yet to happen on May 10, 2018.

However, because the government has yet to name the private companies to spearhead the reconstruction of major facilities, Castro said they could not fix a date when the residents could start rebuilding their homes.

Castro said the reconstruction efforts have started with the process to identify the construction companies to be tapped. While this is ongoing, they are proceeding with the clearing of unexploded ordnances inside the MAA.

At the moment, Castro said they are implementing a Swiss challenge. Those interested in joining the Bangon Marawi Consurtium are 5 foreign and 4 local companies.

Consultations with the residents of the MAAs are continuously being held and their inputs will be taken into account.

The Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander Major General Roseller Murillo said that during the Kambisita on April 1-3, 2018, residents visited their homes for the first time.

The residents were informed that in sector 1 Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams were able to recover 8 unexploded ordnance composed of one 60mm mortar, one hand grenade, and 6 40mm rounds.

Murillo said that the MAA is not totally safe as EODs are still in the process of clearing the area.  

“To date, our teams were able to recover 1,178 unexploded ordnance, 323 Improvised Explosive devices, 17 out of 70 unexploded aerial bombs,” Murillo said.

These aerial bombs include 500-pound munitions which are the most difficult to defuse. He said it will take EODs 5 days to recover and detonate them on site.

Murillo said that their original deadline for clearing of ordnances was set in October 2017, but that it has been moved to June 2018.

Allow developers to clear areas 

Castro said they were asking residents of MAAs to let the clearing be completed.

“What we are asking the homeowners is to allow the developer some lead time in order to conduct the debris management so that it will move at a faster pace, including the layout designs of the place,” Castro said.

Castro added that clearing the debris cannot be done if there are people going around. “So they (developers) are given several months for debris clearing and layout, and what is needed in the preparation, and after that, we will allow the residents to start (clearing) their houses.”

According to Castro, the debris clearing will only be for government infrastructure, roads and facilities. “If there are private individuals who want their houses cleared because their homes are not usable, they can ask the clearing operations (to include) their house,” Castro said.

Castro added that after the recent Kambisita, they will not allow residents anymore to visit their houses.

“We want to fast track the clearing inside (the MAA) and we are in a hurry as we have a timetable. We don’t want to be impeded by the clearing. We will not allow visitors anymore as it is dangerous. There are heavy equipment, to keep it safe no one will be allowed inside,” Castro said.

Welcome development 

In a text message, Drieza Lininding, chairman of the Moro Consensus Group (MCG) said that they welcomed news that residents will be allowed to construct their homes.

MCG has been critical of how the government handled the crisis, pointing out rights violations, among others.

“It is a welcome development and we hope that they will [keep] their word, but we are concerned [about] houses that will be affected by the military camps, road expansions, water easements from the lakeshore and Agus river that will surely displace thousands of families,” Lininding said.

Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte, in an effort to appease the residents of Marawi City, said that he ordered an inventory of lands, for the military to identify how much land they needed, and which land is alienable and disposable, and which can be distributed to the residents.

Castro said that easements and road expansion, as allowed by law, will be followed.

The issue pertaining to a military reservation is still being discussed.

Lininding pointed out that it is still unclear if the government will compensate the owners of houses destroyed during the war, “I hope that, that will be made clear,” Lininding said.

Castro said that clearing operators are prevented from touching private properties – unless homeowners themselves grant permission to clear debris inside houses.

Lanao del Sur provincial Governor Bedjoria Soraya Alonto Adiong, in a text message, said that she was happy that TFBM will provide assistance in the clearing of their houses.

“In the meantime, the provincial government is coordinating with the office of Senator Bam Aquino regarding a draft bill they are proposing which allows government to provide assistance to lost private properties,” Adiong said. –

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