QUEZON CITY – After months of tireless efforts in rebuilding the country’s lone Islamic City, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) is now in the homestretch of completing the massive rehabilitation works.
Normalcy has started to be felt even inside Marawi City’s most affected area (MAA) or “ground zero” where the Maranaws, especially those displaced by the 2017 armed conflict, are now enjoying initial fruits of the massive government-led rehabilitation.
TFBM Chairman Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario vowed the rebuilding, led by the Task Force and its 56 implementing agencies in unison with partner organizations, will be completed next year.
As of first week of December, the overall completion rate was pegged at about 85% complete with dozens of major projects already turned over and now being used while many others are in the final stages of completion.
“I can say that 2021 has been a fruitful year for TFBM, Marawi City local government and especially to our Maranaw brothers and sisters who are now enjoying the initial fruits of the ongoing rehabilitation,” Secretary Del Rosario said.
The housing czar conducted regular monthly inspections to ensure that all projects are carried out based on the master plan and within the timetable.
“I am certain that we can finish at least 95% of all major infra projects by June 2022, and I can assure everyone that the few remaining projects will surely be completed because they are already funded and for implementation by the concerned agencies,” Secretary Del Rosario added.
Against all odds
Faced with numerous challenges, including the almost daily heavy downpours and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hampering the rehabilitation efforts, the TFBM held its ground and anchored its efforts to the Master Development Plan in carrying out construction works.
Throughout his regular monthly visits this year, Secretary Del Rosario, along with TFBM Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr., Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, representatives from the LGU and partner agencies, ensured that all ongoing projects are of high standard and within the timeline.
Secretary Del Rosario also tapped various civil society organizations (CSOs) as third-party monitoring group and granted them access to regularly inspect the ongoing rehabilitation.
During the last briefing in December, the Lanao Del Sur-based CSO Convergence Group has expressed satisfaction over the progress of the rebuilding.
The TFBM and its implementing agencies have completed a number of key projects since the construction of public facilities went on full blast in July 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 20 kilometers of transcentral roads are now fully operational along with three bridges that have been reconstructed.
Meanwhile, a PNP Community Police Action Center, the Marawi Fire Substation, a Maritime Outpost, the Rorogagus Barangay Health Station with medical supplies, the Marawi Central Police Station and a Solar power irrigation system have likewise been completed.
As a symbol of good governance and leadership, six barangay complexes, each with a health center and madrasah, were also finished inside the most affected area, with 18 more slated to be completed within the first quarter of the year (2022).
To help fast-track the social healing of the Maranaws, six Islamic houses of praise–all inside MAA, including the iconic Grand Mosque, have been reconstructed and turned over to their respective administrators this year.
A four-story school building, one of the eight programmed under the master plan, had also been completed while the seven others are now in various stages of completion.
A number of public facilities and infrastructure such as the Rizal Park, Traffic Command Center, the mall-like Grand Padian Market with ice plant, Marawi Museum, the School of Living Traditions, the Marawi City Jail, and the Marawi Command Center, meanwhile, are now in final stages of completion.
Construction for the Sarimanok Sports Stadium, Lake Lanao Promenade and the Marawi City Convention Center are now in full blast.
Nearly 5,000 transitory shelters have been completed while more than 700 permanent shelters have been finished, with nearly 900 more underway, ready to accommodate Marawi City’s internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Most families of IDPs from the MAA are likely to start the New Year rebuilding or refurbishing their homes.
Secretary Del Rosario announced that the TFBM agreed with the Marawi LGU to expedite the release of building permits to about 1,500 applicants and allow them to rebuild their homes. Authorities have established mechanisms to address issues on lot ownership to avoid disputes.
“We expect that by January (2022), hundreds or even a thousand can already start the construction or repair of their houses,” he added.
Secretary Del Rosario and Mayor Gandamra also agreed to create several teams to conduct simultaneous final assessment and inspection of the subject structures in Sectors 4 to 7 to allow the IDPs to start rebuilding their homes.
So far, TFBM has allowed the return of IDPs from Sectors 1 to 3 – composed of three barangays out of the 24 situated inside MAA or the ground zero. Residents from Sectors 4 to 7 are expected to return home soon.
Meanwhile, the Local Water Utilities Administration led the ground breaking ceremony early December for the 5-million liter a day bulk water treatment plant that will supply potable water to MAA. The project is expected to be completed by May 2022.
Agents of progress, catalyst of change
Last October, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally led the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Marawi’s liberation.
In his message, the President commended the members of TFBM for their unwavering commitment to bring back the glory of the nation’s only Islamic City.
“…we mark this historic occasion by allowing the rays of hope to light up the darkness that once enveloped the city of Marawi. I congratulate and commend the Task Force Bangon Marawi, as well the local officials and other partners, for working together to rehabilitate the city,” President Duterte said.
The President said the TFBM and its implementing agencies have been steadfast in rebuilding the lives of displaced families, as well as in restoring damaged properties and revitalizing disrupted socioeconomic activities.
“You have stayed true to your commitment as agents of progress and catalyst for change,” President Duterte stressed.
Indeed, the TFBM, led by Secretary Del Rosario, and its implementing agencies have been agents of progress and will remain as such until its mission is completely accomplished. After all, Secretary Del Rosario envisions Marawi rehabilitation to be catalyst for sustainable growth and development, template of good governance and lasting peace. (30) —CVC