House of Representatives

Marawi water restoration deal hits fresh snag, delays rehab completion

Dwight de Leon

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Marawi water restoration deal hits fresh snag, delays rehab completion
For residents to return to Marawi's 'ground zero,' they need clean water supply, which the bulk water supply project is expected to provide

MANILA, Philippines – A water supply project that is essential to the rebuilding of war-ravaged Marawi City in Lanao del Sur faces another roadblock after local officials objected to a contract term brought up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. said the AFP wanted the option to renew the contract every 25 years.

The infrastructure will be built inside a military camp.

“After 25 years, they can sign the contract, or if not, it’s stated there that the Marawi City Water District will have to remove the facility, which is not acceptable for the people of Lanao del Sur,” Governor Adiong lamented during a House ad hoc committee hearing on Monday, July 31.

“The danger here really is that AFP can single-handedly abrogate the contract any time they want,” Lanao del Sur 1st District and Representative Zia Alonto Adiong, the governor’s brother, added.

AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. was not present during Monday’s hearing, but Representative Adiong said he would be invited to join a second hearing next week.

The construction of the water bulk facility has been in limbo for years due to numerous administrative issues, frustrating senators who zeroed in on the project’s status in a committee hearing in September 2022.

The Local Water Utilities Administration said at the time that the absence of an overall LWUA chief handpicked by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delayed the project further. Vicente Ravil was only appointed to lead the agency in February 2023.

The Marawi City Water District and the military also struggled to break the impasse for months after the latter demanded a free water supply to the camp.

“If we will make water free for them, and the AFP battalion camp is about 10 hectares, the water supply won’t suffice. Our water reservoir is estimated to be two million liters,” Governor Adiong said, adding that the AFP later agreed to a 25% discount for the water supply.

The project’s importance

Six years after followers of the Islamic State invaded Marawi, life has found some semblance of normalcy. Business has resumed in what the government classifies as least affected areas.

But “ground zero” – 24 barangays that are identified as the most affected areas (MAA) – remains like a ghost town, despite new buildings standing tall.

In order for residents to return to the MAA, they need a clean water supply, which the bulk water system is expected to provide.

“The turnover of the project this year is impossible because it won’t be completed. The constituents of Mayor Majul Gandamra and I have been longing to rebuild their destroyed homes, but how can that happen when there’s no potable water in the MAA?” Governor Adiong asked. “That’s why we need the help of this ad hoc committee to fast-track the process.”

According to Task Force Bangon Marawi, Phase 1 of the bulk water supply project was only 6.6% completed as of June, and target completion is December 2023.

Funds for the construction of a sewerage treatment plan have also been downloaded, but there has been zero progress in the project. The target date of completion is August 2024.

Marawi water restoration deal hits fresh snag, delays rehab completion
Not satisfied

President Marcos mentioned the ongoing Marawi rehabilitation in his recent State of the Nation Address, touting the completion of several projects.

“We are currently processing financial aid for Marawi siege victims so they can start anew. May hope prevail,” he said.

Marawi Compensation Board chairwoman Maisara Dandamun-Latiph said that, from July 4 to 27, a total of 3,323 applications had been filed, but only 2,073 had successfully completed the requirements. They are now for evaluation.

Governor Adiong said the national government’s efforts to rehabilitate Marawi had been found wanting.

“I am not satisfied. It’s slow. But we’re very thankful to the national government for allotting budget to the MAA,” he said. –

* Quotes in Filipino were translated into English.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.