Mindanao lawmakers hit Marawi rehab: ‘Painstakingly too slow’

Mara Cepeda
Mindanao lawmakers hit Marawi rehab: ‘Painstakingly too slow’
Legislators slam the reconstruction plan for the most affected areas in Marawi City because the proposed structures are set to be built in residential areas, potentially displacing residents

MANILA, Representatives – Lawmakers from Mindanao are dissatisfied with the government’s pace in finalizing plans to rehabilitate Marawi City, calling the proposals faulty and “painstakingly too slow.”

Two members of Task Force Bangon Marawi faced the House Muslim affairs committee on Wednesday, May 23, to present the rehabilitation plans for Marawi, including the most affected areas (MAA). (WATCH: Marawi after one year – a sea of destruction)

The task force was represented by its spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Kristoffer Purisima of the Office of Civil Defense, and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council director Mylene Rivera.

Exactly one year after the Marawi siege, however, the task force representatives said negotiations and consultations on the reconstruction and rehabilitation plans were still being finalized.

Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Khalid Dimaporo did not mince words in criticizing the slow pace of the task force. (READ: One year later, tears flow as Marawi residents pray for the dead)

“That (Marawi siege) is a very painful experience to us. The Islamic City of Marawi was destroyed. Within the President’s time, it should be rebuilt. And the pace has been painstakingly too slow,” said Dimaporo. 

He said the Muslim affairs panel had expected the task force to present “something tangible” by Wednesday.

“The expectations are very high because of the President’s pronouncements. And the patience – not only of the people in Marawi living there now, the people of Lanao [del] Norte and Lanao [del] Sur, the Maranaos, but also the evacuees that have been living in evacuation centers for so many months – the patience is growing thin,” Dimaporo said.  

Lanao del Sur 2nd District Representative Mauyag Papandayan Jr, House Muslim affairs committee chairperson, also found the rehabilitation plan for the MAA problematic, as the government proposed to build structures like a cultural center and a market on residential areas.  

If you are in Marawi, wala namang vacant space diyan na paglalagyan mo, other than kukunin mo ‘yong mga bahay na masisira,” said the Lanao del Sur 2nd District representative who grew up in Marawi. 

(If you are in Marawi, there are no vacant spaces left there to build those structures, except if you get the areas where homes were destroyed.)

Kung tutuusin, napakaganda nito. Pero what will happen to people living there? Saan ‘nyo sila papatirahin (If you look at it, this is a very good plan. But what will happen to the people residing there? Where will you make them live?)” he asked. 

Both Purisima and Rivera explained this was why consultations were still ongoing, as the task force wanted to get the stakeholders’ inputs on where the government can build the proposed structures without displacing residents in the MAA. 

A set date for a tentative plan?

Papandayan, however, found this even more questionable. He scored the government’s target to begin the rehabilitation by next month when the location of the proposed structures have yet to be finalized.

Paano kayo magstart kung ‘di pala final itong mga programs ‘nyo? Kailan magiging final ‘yan (How can you start when the programs are not even final yet? When will they become final)?” he asked.

Purisima only repeated his previous answer.

“I guess, your honor, that’s the purpose of the negotiation: To come up with that final plan, that final determination, including the locations. Of course, Mr Chair, candidly, if the negotiations are not done given the timeline, the ideal timeline we are targeting, then of course we will have to adjust,” said Purisima. 

Lack of Marawi residents’ profiling

Anak Mindanao Representative Amihilda Sangcopan asked if Task Force Bangon Marawi has complete data on every individual in the MAA who would potentially be affected by the rehabilitation plans, including their specific addresses.

Purisima said there are 27,322 residents in the MAA of Marawi – 12,494 own their homes while 14,828 rent theirs. But he could not determine where each resident lived as Sangcopan asked.

“Mr Chair, I have been in government service, I think, in the past 20 years, and I understand, when you talk of planning, when you talk of programming, you always get it from the data. Hindi ka makakabuo ng isang plano – kahit ang framework ‘di mo siya mabubuo – kung wala kang klarong datos (You won’t be able to complete a plan or framework if you don’t have clear data),” said Sangcopan.

Klaro nga budget source mo, may pinapakita kang plano. Pero ‘di ko siya nakikita kung saan siya tutuntong (You have a clear budget source, you have a plan to present. But I can’t see where this is going),” she added.

Purisima promised he would be ready to address the lawmakers’ questions next time the committee invites the task force representatives.

“We will continuously update the honorable committee on the status of the negotiations and where we are in terms of development. And hopefully, the next time we’re invited by the honorable committee, we’ll be able to provide more concrete and definitive plans,” he said. 

Unlike the Mindanao lawmakers Malacañang is “satisfied” with the Marawi rehabilitation progress so far. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.