“Marawi rehab must be structurally sound, culturally sensitive” -Escalada

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DAVAO CITY (February 15)—  The  process of rehabilitation of Marawi City “Must be structurally sound and culturally sensitive” says  Marcelino Escalada, the general manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA) Friday morning.

Establishing a new Marawi is a big challenge not only to the government but also to the Meranaws especially, as a new edifice will rise from the ruins of war which killed many.

The government, according to Escalada, who was recently appointed as the Secretary General of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), is a big challenge, given the cultural sensitivity of the people who have suffered long enough during the five-month Marawi siege.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized by some sectors outside Marawi, citing the  snail-paced implementation  of the rehabilitation  of the multi-billion project, but according to Escalada, “We would rather accept criticisms from people outside Marawi than earn the ire of the people due to cultural insensitivity.”

“We have the blueprint, the new one, this is drawn of the consultations and discussion with Marawi residents and stakeholders, it is craft from the culture of Meranaws and we agree on it,” Escalada stressed.

A member of the anti-bomb unit use bomb sniffing dogs in the clearing operations.-Contributed photo

The Delays

In mid-2017, the national government presented a very beautiful blueprint of its context about the rehabilitation of Marawi, it was world-class, it shows the modern housing template and aesthetics but people of Marawi criticized the plan, saying it does not reflect the real culture and life of Meranaws,. Immediately, the government shelved the plan.

During the last quarter of 2017 and until early months of 2018, consultations were held, this time, with the residents and Marawi City stakeholders,  there was meeting of the minds, residents were consulted and everyone took part in what they considered the blueprint of the New Marawi, they agreed.

Debris Management:

Though, some areas have been cleared which will soon be undertaken by the debris management contractors, the fact remains “That the clearing takes time because the military and bomb experts are until working to clear the Most Affected Area (MAA), since there are still over a hundred bombs deposited in areas occupied by the Maute-Isis terrorist.”

As it is now, many areas on MAA has yet to clear the most affected areas with the unaccounted bombs buried elsewhere, ” We were advised that we can only fully start the debris management in areas cleared by the bomb experts,” Escalada stressed.

Earlier on, the NHA suspended a contractor for its failure to get the consent of the previous owner before they started debris management “It is stipulated in our contract that debris management can only be undertaken with the prior consent of the land owner.”

Last December, Finmat International resources was suspended by the NHA, for failure to follow demolition requirement such permit from the LGU and Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and above all, homeowners consent.

Members of the Debris Management starts demolishing the house of Marawi mAyor clears the Hosue of Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra on February 14, 2018.-Photo by: Divina M. Suson

Painful memories and groundwork

On Thursday, February 14, the NHA kicks off demolition of structures inside MAA. Demolition of houses and other structures will be done in the presence of the owners.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra witnessed the debris management contractor demolished his house, as he encouraged them to also witness the demoliton of their once abode.

Gandamra said it was painful seeing his ruined house being demolished out of the rubbles but he stressed rehabilitation must start out of the painful memories.

The CJI General Services, a Batangas-based contractor who got the contract to clear the sectors 2 to 9 of the MAA, started to demolish the structure owned by Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra in Osmeña Street in Barangay Sangkay, located inside the Sector 5.

NHA Engr. Ikmat Bantuas said, Gandamra’s building is one of the 409 structures whose owners gave their clearance to have their property demolished and cleared.

There are 6,800 structures inside the 250- hectare, composed of non-habitable, hazardous and partially destroyed, according to the NHA.

Those structures will be evaluated and be identified by the three government agency-members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Debris Clearing (IACDC) that composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Department of Health (DOH).

Other members of the IACDC are the NHA and the local government unit (LGU).

The result of the evaluation will then be recommended to the LGU.

“These agencies (DPWH, BFP, DOH) will determine what structures are still habitable, what are those hazardous and what are those structures that need to be demolished but we still need to have the demolition permit of the LGU, provided all the documentary requirements from the concerned agencies will be complied,” Bantuas said.

He clarified also that even if those structures or houses are no longer livable or already hazardous, if the owners do not give the consent to demolish their structure, the NHA will not allow the contractor to do it.

Some owners did not give consent to demolish their properties for fear that they may not get it back but the Task Force Bangon Marawi assured them, they will have their space in the New Marawi.

Next week, the CJI General Services and its joint venture Beredo Construction (BCon) will continue the massive demolition and debris clearing in the structures that were given the demolition permit.

Edsel Alan Manigbas, deputy project manager of CJI, said they are expected to finish it in eight months but if all the owners and weather condition will cooperate, they can finish the work in four months.

Meranaw’s are very sentimental and the culture is very sensitive, respect is necessary, Escalada stressed.

NHA General manager Marcelino E. Escalada .-NewsLine FIle photo

The funds:

Escalada said the funding requirement for the rehabilitation is in placed but “We cannot just disburse and spend it without clearing grounds.”

The President, according to Escalada “Is very cautious in the implementation of the plan, because within him runs a Maranao blood, we need to consider culture first than just build and build.”

The transitory relocation site in Boganga, called Lake View Shelter, is the second temporary relocation site for the displaced families particularly from the 250-hectare most affected area (MAA) who have stayed in the different evacuation centers in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur since the start of Marawi siege.

The first one is the Bahay Ng Pagbabago in Barangay Sagonsongan where the government built 1,052 temporary shelters which are being occupied already by the beneficiaries.

“Tuloy-tuloy po ang pagbibigay namin ng (transitory shelter) units hanggang sa ma-occupy ang 550 units at sa darating na Marso ay muli kaming magbubukas at magtu-turn over ng 250 to 300 units pa po para sa mga kapatid nating nasa mga evacuation centers pa,” said NHA Director Roderick Ibañez .

Happy but sad

Salima Ampaso, a former resident of Barangay Datu Naga inside the MAA said she was relieved when she was included in the first batch to be transferred in the transitory shelter in Boganga but she said she is sad because she can never see her old house again, “Pero kailangan may mabago dahil, nangyari na ang giera, tapos na.”

Ampaso said she could not live comfortably in her concrete transitory shelter living behind her 65-year old uncle, Lawi and his 53-year old wife, Tata Ampao, she brought them with her in Boganga.

Escalada explained, “The New Marawi will feature a structurally sound buildings and structures and built with cultural sensitivity.”-Editha Z. Caduaya and Divina Suson/NewsLine.ph

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