MARAWI CITY: Deputy Speaker and Basilan lone district Representative Mujiv Hataman is calling for a revamp in leadership and management of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) as there being not much improvement brought to Marawi nearly three years after its siege.
In a statement on Thursday, Hataman said, “While the country fights the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of Marawi suffer twice in this crisis as they continue to be plagued by an outbreak of government delay and inefficiency in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of their homes three years after the 2017 siege.”
TFBM is the inter-agency body tasked to implement the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP).
Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo del Rosario chairs the TFBM, while National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sits as vice-chairman. Some heads of agencies including Overseas Filipino Workers Secretary Abdullah Mama-o, a native of Marawi, are members.
Exactly three years ago on May 23, 2017, an estimated 1,000 Islamic State-inspired Maute group terrorists laid a siege on Marawi City. It took government forces five months to drive them out, with extensive shelling and bombing leaving the Islamic city in shambles, with thousands of lives lost and tens of thousands of residents displaced.
Hataman is not alone in calling for a revamp in leadership of TFBM.
Maranao multi-sectoral leaders have been asking del Rosario to resign for allegedly mishandling the Marawi rehbilitation that inflicted more suffering to the displaced persons but he is unfazed having the confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Hataman claimed that the TFBM, established on June 28, 2017 at the height of the armed conflict in Marawi, has failed to effect much change during the three-year period that it was in charge of the implementation of the MRRP.
“Maybe it’s time for a revamp or a leadership change in TFBM. It has been three years and still, the people of Marawi have yet to return to their homes. This is actionable negligence already on the part of TFBM,” he said.
“A destroyed Marawi should not be the new normal. COVID-19 or not, the rehabilitation must go on. Construction is one activity that is the least susceptible to COVID-19 infection. It is done outdoors and workers by their nature are physically distanced from each other,” he added.
Hataman moved for the immediate resumption of the MRRRP so that the citizens of Marawi, of whom some 17,000 are still in temporary shelters, can go back to normal life.
Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said he hopes Marawi folk would be able to return to their respective homes before year’s end.
“Rehabilitation should move faster than the virus. Long before this plan to flatten the curve, Marawi was already flattened by bombs. No other city has suffered these three in succession: war, virus and now hunger. Just imagine being in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and you cannot even stay under the protection of your own home.”
Some 25,355 families or a total of 126,775 individuals were displaced by the siege three years ago, according to figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some 17,000 are in temporary shelters, while the rest are living with relatives or friends.
“Until when are we going to prolong their agony? How do you sleep at night knowing that a lot of families are not in their homes for three years now? I hope the government gives them the utmost priority now,” Hataman, one of the principal authors of the Marawi Compensation Bill, said.
He said there is no reason to delay the implementation of the MRRRP any further, after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) already released in April some P3.57 billion to the task force to fast-track the completion of the projects under the MRRRP.
Hataman assured that for their part in the House of Representatives, they will do their best to approve and pass into law the Marawi Compensation Bill.
MASIDING NOOR YAHYA