By Philippine News Agency
MARAWI CITY: Members of the international and local media have witnessed the significant progress of the government’s rehabilitation program for the conflict-affected city of Marawi, during the Marawi City Week of Peace Reporting Event.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office, through the Office of the Global Media and Public Affairs (PCOO-OGMPA), in partnership with the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), brought members of the international and local media in Marawi City on May 22-23 to allow them to see firsthand the on-the-ground situation of the rehabilitation efforts of the national government and local government, as well as its development partners, in the Islamic city.
First launched in 2018, PCOO reporting events aim to provide accurate information and narratives not only from the Philippine government officials, but also from the locals benefiting from government policies and projects.
PCOO Secretary Martin M. Andanar said the Duterte administration is committed to its promise of rebuilding the war-torn Marawi and bringing the city back to its former glory before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends next year.
“It is within the promise of a comfortable life that this commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration to finish rebuilding Marawi City before this term ends is embedded. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, the reconstruction continues to be robust for the gentle and peace-loving people of Marawi, while ensuring health protocols are being followed,” Andanar said.
All infra projects completed by December
Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and TFBM chairman Secretary Eduardo D. Del Rosario said all infrastructure projects, some of which started in July last year, will be completed by December 2021.
The housing czar estimated that infrastructure projects, which started July last year, are about 65 percent complete and that these projects are expected to be finished by December of this year.
“Now, we can stand proud and tell the world, to the public, that we are on the right track and we are doing it right, and we will complete substantially the rehabilitation by December of 2021…Thus, Marawi will rise again as a prosperous city,” said Del Rosario during the media tour at the Grand Mosque.
On the first day of the reporting event, members of the media witnessed the inauguration of the Tolali Barangay Hall Complex, and the almost completely rehabilitated Disomangcop Mosque. They also covered the inoculation of locals at the Marawi City Hall, many of the vaccine recipients were senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.
The TFBM also brought the media to the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of eight four-story school buildings which houses 200 classrooms, located in Barangay Moncado Colony Kadingilan, part of the most affected areas (MAA) of Marawi.
The media also witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sarimanok Complex and Marawi Convention Center, led by the National Housing Authority. The complex is a multipurpose four-hectare sports stadium that features a 3,700-seater track-and-field oval with a football field as well as basketball, volleyball, badminton, and tennis courts.
The one-hectare Marawi Convention Center, meanwhile, features an auditorium, exhibit area, meeting rooms, conference rooms, offices, and quarters, and has a total maximum capacity for 1,700 individuals.
Grand mosque 69-percent complete
TFBM also showed the media the ongoing repair works for the Grand Mosque, considered as the center mosque of the city and was left devastated when it was used as a camp by the armed terrorist group. The repairs for the mosque are 69 percent complete and expected to be fully rehabilitated by October 2021.
Marawi City Mayor Atty. Majul U. Gandamra said the facilities that are under construction, will help the people of Marawi to shy away from engaging in violent extremism and terrorism.
“The completion of these projects will certainly change the face of Marawi, and would create a lasting impact to the lives of our constituents and even our local economy. This will be a legacy of our government, of our President, to us Maranaos,” Gandamra said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sarimanok Complex.
Members of the media were also brought to the Gadungan housing site which has 1,800 permanent shelters being built for families displaced by the Marawi siege. The site comes complete with a health center, wet market, livelihood center, school building, a multi-purpose covered court, police outpost, daycare center, transport terminal, a mosque in the center of the village, and a materials recovery facility.
The media also visited the Hidaya Village, opened February of this year, where 109 families currently live. The villagers, along with the TFBM, led the planting of 168 golden trumpet tree seedlings each representing fallen soldier or uniformed personnel who sacrificed their life to regain Marawi City.
2,000 permanent shelters
National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino P. Escalada Jr. said all of the temporary and permanent shelters for all internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi City are expected to be finished before Duterte’s term ends next year.
“We are very much on time with our temporary shelter, in fact we are close to 95 percent already done. The 2,000 permanent shelters are around 65 percent complete already, we hope to deliver that before the end of [the] term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Escalada said.
On the second day of the reporting event, the TFBM alongside officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police, and the local government, held a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the sacrifices of state forces to reclaim the city for the people of Marawi four years ago.
To end the week-long peace remembrance, the PCOO held a press briefing with the TFBM. It was also participated in by officials including AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Marawi Sultanate League Chairman Sultan Nasser Sampaco Al Hajj, Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Danilo Pamonag, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Deputy Chief Minister Ali Solaiman.
The PCOO first held a reporting event in Marawi in 2019 to commemorate the second Marawi City Week of Peace. Another reporting event was held in October of the same year to commemorate the second anniversary of the city’s liberation from terrorists, and to show the rehabilitation efforts.
Other PCOO reporting events have brought local and international media in Samar to cover the return of the Balangiga Bells in 2018, as well as in Cotabato to report on the BOL Plebiscite in 2019.
The PCOO-OGMPA is in charge of creating engagements and connecting our government policymakers with the international media, and foreign audiences.