CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Some residents inside Marawi City's most affected area (MAA) on Friday called on government agencies, including the local government unit (LGU), to come up with a favorable solution that can balance the rehabilitation projects, while not affecting private properties.
A resident, lawyer Ibrahim Mimbalawag, who works as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice, said he has talked with his neighbors to appeal with concerned agencies on retaining their properties that may be affected by the construction of projects by the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) and National Housing Authority (NHA).
"We will ask the LGU to make a resolution requesting that the government rehabilitation projects to be put on vacant lots," he said in the radio program "Alerto Bangsamoro" aired over DXMS Radyo Bida.
This came after Mimbalawag was told by an NHA personnel that they could no longer go back to their properties because it is now part of the ongoing TFBM and NHA's reconstruction projects.
The LGU and TFBM said some claims are not true.
Mimbalawag said his family has four houses in Barangay Datu sa Dansalan, one of the four barangays that were subjected to the TFBM and NHA project.
Jorge Golle, Senior Program Officer on Digital Information and Mapping for the non-government organization, International Alert Philippines, said four barangays inside the MAA has a total area of 15 hectares, and prior to the siege, the location served as Marawi City's central business district.
Golle said there was a discrepancy in the boundaries between the LGU and NHA, adding that the LGU based the barangays' boundaries on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, while the NHA based its boundaries on the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
He said this might later create implications when it comes to addressing land issues by the government and the residents.
"It is often that land issues can cause several conflicts that may lead to deaths," he said, noting his experience in the organization monitoring the peace and conflict situation in the Bangsamoro region.
In an online press briefer on Thursday, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra clarified that there is no truth in the information that four barangays would be dissolved.
"It's not true that four barangays will be dissolved. In fact, we even built four barangay complexes in those barangays,” he said.
Gandamra said only a portion of land from these four barangays was occupied by the government for the construction of government facilities.
"And not the whole of the four barangays, but only a portion, and this is the reclamation area," he said.
He said government infrastructures are being constructed in the former locations of the public market, the city mall, and other facilities owned by the city government.
Those living within the reclamation area cannot go back as the reclaimed area is owned by the city government.
"That's the reason why we are constructing permanent shelters because they will be accommodated in these permanent shelters,” Gandamra said, adding that this is aside from the government assistance provided in the pending compensation bill.
No NHA role
Meanwhile, Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary and TFBM Chairman Eduardo del Rosario said there is no truth to allegations that the NHA has been taking on a role in the city’s rehabilitation since it is not within the scope of its mandate.
Del Rosario said there is an agreement existing between the NHA and the Department of Public Works and Highways that gives NHA the responsibility of leading road construction in Marawi.
The agreement is well documented in the Master Development Plan presented to the TFBM and had President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval.
“It is stated in the documentation that this project will be undertaken by this particular government agency. It was approved by the President because it was contained in the whole Master Development Plan that was presented by the Task Force Bangon Marawi to the Office of the President,” he said.
On the other hand, Jai Sapiin, representative of the civil-society group Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, said government agencies involved in the Marawi reconstruction and rehabilitation should clarify and streamline the data for the public to be aware of the situation.
Sapiin said government agencies and their contracting partners must understand the urgency of displaced residents to get back to their properties.
"We don't know, maybe there are more people affected (from other barangays)," she said on the same radio program.
Del Rosario, however, said they tapped civil society organizations to closely monitor the massive reconstruction efforts and so far, the latter have been appreciative of TFBM’s transparency and have expressed satisfaction over the progress of the rehabilitation.
"To say that nothing has been accomplished after four years of hard work is not only an outrageous lie but an outright insult to our Meranaw brothers and sisters who have always been exerting full support to the city's rehabilitation," he said. (PNA)