MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte created an inter-agency task force to take charge of the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City, ground zero of clashes between terrorists and government forces.
Task Force Bangon Marawi was created through Administrative Order No. 3, signed on June 28 but released to media only on Monday, July 3.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was designated chairperson of the task force composed of 23 members. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar serves as vice chairperson.
The members, aside from Lorenzana and Villar, are the following:
The task force is in charge of deploying a quick response team to provide for the immediate needs of people displaced by the Marawi clashes.
It is also supposed to conduct a post-conflict needs assessment of Marawi City and, based on this, create a "Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program."
Read Administrative Order No. 3 below:
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Aside from supervising the construction of temporary and permanent shelters for displaced persons, the task force is also responsible for the "immediate restoration" of water and electricity and the repair or reconstruction of "public buildings and infrastructure."
Duterte instructed the inter-agency group to "provide an environment conducive to the revival of business and livelihood activities."
In carrying out his tasks, Lorenzana was ordered to "consult with Muslim leaders in the rehabilitation of predominantly Muslim localities." (READ: Marawi under siege: It's like 'looking at Aleppo')
The rehabilitation of Marawi City will be among the major topics to be discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Monday, said Lorenzana.
Duterte earlier ordered that P20 billion be set aside for the rehabilitation program. (READ: What evacuees can expect from gov't when they return to Marawi)
Lorenzana said his priorities as task force head are funding and the speedy purchase of materials needed for rehabilitation.
"As early as now, we would like to procure some construction materials like lumber, cement, nails, metal sheets to support the civilians who are going back and repairing their homes," he said.
Lorenzana is hoping the task force and its members can be allowed to use the "emergency mode of procurement" that shortens the usual procurement process in light of the critical situation. (READ: China donates P15M for Marawi rehabilitation)
While he refused to say when he thought Marawi clashes are likely to end, Lorenzana said he is already looking into allowing some Marawi residents to return to their homes.
This may be possible soon for those who live in parts of the city far from the ongoing fighting, which is concentrated in the central business district.
The Marawi crisis enters its 42nd day on Monday. So far, 336 terrorists have been killed. The government has also suffered 84 casualties, while 39 civilians have been killed. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.