Financial assistance to Marawi residents eyed to expedite rehab process

The Subcommittee on Housing is highly considering the provision of financial assistance among the survivors for them to build their houses the way they wanted it and within their own timeframe.

Representatives from different sectors gathered for a Senate hearing to discuss updates on the current rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City. Senator JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing under the Ad Hoc Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, together with Senators Gringo Honasan and Sherwin Gatchalian, presided over the meeting of stakeholders from concerned sectors namely the National Housing Authority (NHA), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), UN Habitat, Marawi LGU, and social and civic groups of the Maranaos.

HUDCC Deputy Secretary General Eduardo del Rosario reported that task force Bangon Marawi has identified 24 barangays with a total population of 11,000 as most affected areas (MAA) of the siege. As of January 29, 2018, approximately 500 transitional shelters have already been built with the help of HUDCC and the Local Government of Marawi. The Maranaos have occupied 250 of these transitional shelters. By the end of the year, the task force aims to build at least one transitional shelter per person for all the Maranaos that lost their homes due to the crisis.

The head of the task force also emphasized that the legal basis of the said rehabilitation is Executive Order (EO) no. 49, which exempts the NHA from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) guidelines in order to expedite the implementation of recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation projects in the most affected areas of Marawi City.

Meanwhile, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, representing his constituents, requested for financial assistance from the national government. He also appealed for autonomy in the construction of their own houses, which they regard as symbols of their faith, culture, and identity.

Senator Ejercito, for his part, was receptive to the idea of providing the siege survivors with financial assistance to independently rebuild their homes, saying it will be more convenient for the locals of Marawi. “This third option to extend financial assistance to the residents of Marawi so they can rebuild their houses individually, on their own, and admittedly that’s going to be faster. No more contractors,” Ejercito said.

Ejercito also said his committee recognizes the difficulty for the government to oversee the task of constructing houses especially in a war-torn city like Marawi. “It’s difficult, especially if you have to consider the land development and the actual development of the home, construction, and then the consolidation, the design,” the senator pointed out.

Government-supervised reconstruction usually takes up to six months of land consolidation and preparation and up to two years of construction proper as witnessed from the rehabilitation process during Supertyphoon Yolanda and Typhoon Sendong. That is why the Subcommittee on Housing is highly considering the provision of financial assistance among the survivors for them to build their houses the way they wanted it and within their own timeframe.

The education sector also appealed for equal considerations on the disbursement of aid in Marawi so that they - as partners of the government in educating Maranao youth - can resume operations amidst the rehabilitation activities, as soon as they can consolidate the necessary materials.

Overall, Ejercito and the rest of the stakeholders were happy with the current progress of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi. The national government expressed its continuing commitment to expedite the rebuilding process of the entire city. Taskforce Bangon Marawi is scheduled to begin the most MAA rehabilitation in May 2018 and has set completion of the project by end of 2021.