By Genalyn D. Kabiling
A 10-hectare military camp will soon rise in Marawi to protect the city and avoid a repeat of the deadly siege last May by the Maute Group.
The camp, which will serve as the headquarters of a Philippine Army battalion, will be built in a military reservation in Barangay Kapantaran, parts of which are now occupied by Marawi residents.
President Duterte assured that residents who will be affected by the construction of the huge military camp will be paid to avoid any conflict.
“I’m going to set a camp here but I will pay you. This is a military reservation pero may mga may-ari naman ng lupa. O, sige na lang, kung anongmakuha nila, eh ‘di bayaran na lang [but there are landowners. Okay then, we’ll just pay for whatever they will get],” Duterte said during the initial turnover of temporary shelter for displaced families in Marawi last Tuesday.
“We will pay para walang gulo [so there will be no chaos] and that is your guarantee,” he added.
A 1953 presidential decree showed 6,000 hectares of Marawi and neighboring towns are part of a military reservation. Many Marawi families have occupied parts of the military reservation for years.
Prior to the transitory shelter turnover ceremony, the President led the ground-breaking ceremony for the 10-hectare military camp.
The initial development involves the renovation of the old Marawi City Hall that will be converted into a new military headquarters building. The facility is expected to be completed in two years.
Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said building the military camp will help guard Marawi City from future terror attacks.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President has directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to hasten the process of determining the which public domain could be classified as alienable and disposable lands.
Roque, in a press briefing in Marawi last Tuesday, said the military has also been directed “to evaluate how much land they need because bulk of Marawi actually is a military reservation.”
“Kaya naman po pinapa-imbentaryo natin yung mga lupa dahil alam natin nakaramihan ng mga bakwits walang titulo [The inventory of the lands is being pursued because we know many of the evacuees have no titles],” he said.
In his remarks, the President lauded anew the bravery of the government troops in battling terrorists and other lawless elements.
“I would also like to thank the brave men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, kasalina ‘yung–marami akong sundalo na Moro na namatay rin [I have many Moro soldiers who died]. I salute them for their – katapangan nila [bravery] to face terror,” he said.
“Marami rin akong pulis na Moro na namatay. So sabi ko nga, it’s a useless war. Naglalaro lang ‘yung mga terorista. Do not allow them [I have many Moro policemen who died too. I said, it’s a useless war. The terrorists are just playing. Do not allow them],” he added. (With a report from Francis T. Wakefield)