Marawi Task Force wants ground zero rehab finished by 2021

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  • Rehab budget for most affected area at ₱22 billion
  • Groundbreaking, contract awarding set for June
  • Bangon Marawi Consortium considered as developer for ground zero site
  • At least 1,000 families still displaced in 40 evacuation centers
  • Maranao peace advocate urges inclusive rehab

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — It will take three more years before ground zero in Marawi City is fully rebuilt, government rehabilitation initiative Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said on Wednesday.

"Well, in terms of the most affected area, the target is to rebuild it by December 2021," TFBM spokesperson Kristoffer Purisima told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Groundbreaking is set for the third week of June this year. However, the rest of the year will be dedicated to debris management.

"Wala pa tayong nakikitang construction... lilinisin pa," said Purisima. "We understand, and we will demand from the developer — 24/7, 365 (days a year) ang pagpapatayo."

[Translation: There won't be any construction yet... it will be cleaned first. We understand, and we will demand from the developer that they work 24/7, 365 (days a year).]

The TFBM's statement comes amid the anniversary of the five-month Marawi crisis, where Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired fighters clashed with government troops in Marawi City. The siege left 168 government troops, 900 enemy forces, and 47 civilians dead. Over 359,000 people were displaced.

READ: Remembering the Marawi crisis

The siege also left total damages and losses at ₱18.23 billion. Among the most damaged areas is the war zone, now identified as the "most affected area," spanning 250 hectares and containing 24 barangays.

TFBM has since announced a rehabilitation budget of between ₱75 billion to ₱80 billion. Purisima said about ₱22 billion will be set aside for the most affected area, up from its initial peg of ₱17 billion earlier this May. A breakdown of the final budget has yet to be finalized.

Developers entering Marawi

Purisima said that the government is in talks with the Bangon Marawi Consortium, which proposed to rebuild the most affected area with an initial estimated cost of ₱17.2 billion.

Negotiations will take between a week to ten days. After that, TFBM will publish the terms of the negotiations and "contract points will be subjected to a Swiss challenge," said Purisima.

A Swiss challenge involves other companies making a bid to match the project.

"Kung may mas makakapagbigay ng better price... iyon ang puwedeng piliin ng Task Force through its selection committee and the chair," Purisima said.

[Translation: If someone can give a better price... the Task Force can choose that through its selection committee and the chair.]

The Bagong Marawi Consortium is composed of five Chinese and four Filipino companies. It is one of six companies that fielded proposals to TFBM.

The Chinese firms are the state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd., Anhui Huali Construction Group Co. Ltd., China Geo Engineering Corp., TBEA Co. Ltd., and Shandong Jinyuan Homes Industry Development Co. Ltd. The Filipino firms are Future Homes Philippines Inc., A Brown Company Inc., H.S. Pow Construction and Development, and SDW Realty & Development Inc.

Peace advocate Samira Gutoc-Tomawis of Ranao Rescue, however, emphasized the importance of passing a law that protects ancestral domain in light of developers coming in.

Thousands still displaced

Purisima estimated that one year after the crisis, there are still about 1,000 families across 40 evacuation centers.

As of April 20 this year, that number was at 3,000. TFBM estimated a total of 48,400 families were still displaced, with the remaining 45,000 classified as home-based displaced families.

Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong stressed that rehabilitation efforts must also prioritize the displaced.

"Basically the concern of the IDPs... is the assurance that they will be compensated by the government," said Adiong.

He invited organizations to communicate with TFBM or the local governments of Marawi and Lanao del Sur.

"We have a menu kung ano pa ang kailangan ng tao natin [containing what our people need]," he said. "Any organization willing to help out only has to look at (it)."

Inclusive rehabilitation

New public spaces and a museum were included under the master plan for Marawi rehabilitation.

LOOK: Government unveils masterplan for rehabilitation of Marawi City  

However, some residents are still worried that the rebuilding process might leave out locals.

Gutoc-Tomawis pointed out that with the Housing Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) consolidating government efforts, rehabilitation was likely to focus on technicalities, with little sensitivity for the needs of the community.

"The mere fact that NEDA is consolidating shows how it's about the tangibles. For me as a Filipina Muslim, the intangibles are 90 percent of it... It's about relationships, trust, how we can build back our own community," said Gutoc-Tomawis.

"The comprehensive planning has to be in touch with people's lives," she added.

Purisima said that the TFBM wants to be as transparent as possible in its rehabilitation. He said that operations were not delayed, but pushed back to accommodate consultations with additional stakeholders.

"You can say we sacrificed a bit of our deadlines to get more people involved," said Purisima.

He added, "We invite everyone also to check on us — to make sure we're doing everything the right way."