President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Marawi City rehabilitation czar Eduardo del Rosario as point person who will handle funds and work directly with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to speed up reconstruction efforts.
Duterte made the decision during a meeting in Malacañan Palace facilitated by Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go in response to Marawi City residents’ concerns about the ongoing rehabilitation of their city left in ruins by a five-month war between government troops and terrorist Maute group in 2017.
“Hindi istilo ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na mag-iwan ng proyektong nakatiwangwang. Hindi kami papayag ng Pangulo na mangyari ito. (It’s not the style of President Duterte to leave unfinished projects. We will not allow it to happen),” Go told the representatives of the Marawi residents at the public hearing that the Senate Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation held in Iligan City on February 21.
“Ako, bilang malapit sa Pangulo, kaya po ako narito, gusto ko po na maging tulay kami ninyo kay Pangulo. Kung may reklamo kayo, may gusto pa kayong iparating sa Pangulo, iparating ninyo na po kaagad ngayon (As ally of the President, the reason why we are here as your bridge to the President. If you have complaints and have something you want to express to the President, say it now),” he added.
Go said the Malacañang meeting on Wednesday was the fulfillment of his promise that he will set a meeting between Duterte and the stakeholders and relevant government agencies for the President to directly hear the various concerns of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
During the Palace meeting, Duterte emphasized deadlines and the importance of minimizing delays as he instructed the DBM to expedite the release of funds for the rehabilitation process.
Duterte said he will personally contribute to the reconstruction of the Grand Marawi Mosque and will visit Marawi City soon.
Go also informed Duterte about the desire of the IDPs to leave the temporary shelters and return to their respective homes.
“Gusto nilang marinig ang assurance ng ating Pangulo kasi hindi sila nakakabalik sa kanilang tirahan at wala silang ibang pinapaniwalaan kundi ang salita niyo po na makakabalik sila sa kanilang lupa at mga bahay (They want to hear assurance of our President because they cannot return to their homes and they will only listen to your words that they can go back to their respective places and homes),” Go said during the meeting with the President.
In response, Duterte assured the residents of the most affected area that they can visit their houses but military installations will remain to ensure the safety of the area.
“What happened to Marawi was a tragedy to this nation and so, in the aftermath, we will do everything to correct the so many wrongs and injustices committed against the Moros, not only in Marawi and Lanao but everywhere in Mindanao,” Duterte said.
Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino, the other members of the Senate Special Committee, also attended the meeting at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang.
Previously, the President made a pledge to complete reconstruction works in Marawi City before he steps down in 2022. During the meeting, he vowed to monitor the ongoing improvements and rehabilitation work.
Prior to the Ilagan City public hearing, Go visited Marawi City for an ocular inspection of the rehabilitation efforts of the government. He also witnessed the opening of the 64th Malasakit Center in the country in Amai Pakpak Medical Center.
“Magtulungan po tayo. Bilang isang Mindanaoan, ako mismo ay gagawin ang lahat ng maaari kong maiambag, lalo na sa mga bagay na may kinalaman sa kalusugan (Let us help each other. As Mindanaoan, I will do what I can do to help especially on the health issues),” Go said, adding the new Malasakit Center will provide quick, quality and reliable medical services to Filipinos.
He assured his audience that the Duterte administration will not allow unfinished projects nor see people blaming each other for shortcomings.
Two years after the Marawi siege, Go said people, most especially the President, are now looking for concrete outputs that should be fruits of the assistance given by the government and donations from the international community to build a new and better Marawi City for its people.
“The President has two years left in Malacañan. We want to know how the rehabilitation can be completed. We don’t want the responsible officials to be negligent now and then put the blame on the President later on when his term ends,” Go said.
The May 2017 Marawi siege displaced around 40,000 households, according to official government figures.
The actual rehabilitation works started in September 2018 by clearing the city of unexploded bombs and debris. The task force reported that the city is now 99 percent cleared of explosives.
The second phase of the rehabilitation effort involves the construction of structures and buildings in the city through the help of 56 government agencies working together for the actual rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Go and other Senators have filed a bill entitled “Marawi Siege Compensation Act of 2020,” which seeks to provide tax-free compensations for all property owners whose properties were damaged by the Marawi Siege in 2017.