As China builders face scrutiny, further delays hit Marawi rehabilitation

Carmela Fonbuena

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As China builders face scrutiny, further delays hit Marawi rehabilitation
Negotiations with the Chinese-led Bangon Marawi Consortium is taking time. The Swiss challenge is moved to May 30, pushing again the schedule of the city’s rehabilitation.

LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – The government and the Bangon Marawi Consortium (BMC) failed again to meet the Friday, May 25, deadline to present the final design plans for the rehabilitation of war-ravaged Marawi City.

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chief Eduardo Del Rosario said the Swiss challenge was moved again to May 30. (LIST: Tasks for China consortium in P17.2-B Marawi contract)

This resets the start of debris clearing to June 21 – at the earliest – assuming no company will challenge BMC’s designs and proposals. If there are challengers, the start of the clearing of debris would remain on hold indefinitely. 

This comes as the Chinese-led consortium faces scrutiny over an old corruption record of two participating companies once blacklisted by the World Bank. (READ: Marawi rehabilitation won’t repeat Typhoon Yolanda mistakes – NEDA)

The Swiss challenge was previously scheduled on May 4.

Gov’t still haggling with BMC

The negotiation with BMC itself has been taking time. “Everything depends on the progress of the negotiation. We have a timetable, but if there is no final agreement between government and the Bagong Marawi Consortium, then we have a problem. It will be further delayed because we have to haggle on quality and we have to haggle on cost,” Del Rosario said in a press conference on May 24.

“We could not accept simply that if the facility that will be constructed will cost this much, we have a panel of experts to assist us and tell the consortium it’s too  high – we have to negotiate, lower it down. It takes time,” Del Rosario said.

The negotiations involve the “specifics of the buildings or facilities that will be constructed and the cost per unit or per facility” and terms of payment for the P17.2-billion contract.

“We expect this to be completed on the 25th or 26th of the month. And Swiss challenge will be on May 30 or 31,” said Del Rosario.

Concerns vs China consortium

REHABILITATION WORK. ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong talks with Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista and Western Mindanao chief Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega inside the 103rd Brigade headquarters. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

Delays hit rehabilitation work as the Chinese-led consortium faced scrutiny over the corruption record of two participating companies.

Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra said he spoke with the developers when Rappler’s report came out. He said TFBM should address the issue because the public is concerned. 

“The reconstruction should be devoid of any stigma of impropriety so that we can remove the cloud of doubt as to who will undertake the development and reconstruction of Marawi,” Gandamra said.

ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, the spokesman during the crisis, was categorical. “We want a developer with sterling background and record,” he said.  

Adiong said it is important that people’s minds are “insulated from any semblance of questionable dealings” in the rehabilitation work.  

“Here in Marawi City, we are also dealing with battle of perception…. We must avoid the misconception that might arise in the minds of the people because there are developers involved with questionable past. It might lead to something worse than frustration,” said Adiong.

China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Geo Engineering Corporation (CGC) were blacklisted by the World Bank in 2009 for colluding with local companies in the Philippines to rig the bidding of road projects partly financed by the international financing institution.

CSCEC was also blacklisted by the Department of Public Works and Highways for 6 months over alleged violations of the procurement law.

Second chance

But the government dismissed the blacklisting of the companies. Roque said the companies, which have served the punishment, deserve a “second chance.” 

“Maybe everyone is entitled to a second opportunity. But we will be watching, monitoring. The Filipino people will be watching,” Roque said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Roque said the government envisioned Marawi to become “a very modern and yet Islamic City” that the whole world will admire.

Del Rosario said they will make sure that everything will be transparent. A third-party monitoring group will also be tapped to watch the entire rehabilitation process.

Security experts said a successful rehabilitation of Marawi is important in fighting the narratives of violent extremist groups that continue to recruit for members in the region. (READ: War vs pro-ISIS PH groups rages on a year after Marawi siege–

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