By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is on track to complete the rehabilitation program of war-torn Marawi City, now known as “The Rise Plan,” by December 2021.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair Eduardo del Rosario gave a progress report on the Marawi rebuilding program as he rejected allegations the city was still a “ghost town” months after the 2017 deadly terror siege.
“If we have the rehabilitation of Europe after World War II called the Marshall Plan for Marawi we are calling it ‘The Rise Plan’ or the Duterte administration’s ‘Rise Plan” that stands for resiliency, identity, sustainability and evolution,” he said during a Palace press briefing.
“We have been saying it will be completed by December 2021. We are still within our timeline,” he added.
Del Rosario said they expect to finish the debris management in Marawi’s most affected areas by August or September. Afterwards, the construction of roads, school buildings, barangay halls, the convention center and other infrastructure projects will begin.
Around 2,500 temporary shelters will also be built by March to be given to families displaced by the terror siege. The government aims to build 4,500 temporary houses by the end of the year, according to Del Rosario.
The government earlier pegged the total rehabilitation cost of Marawi at P67.9 billion, including P17 billion for the most affected areas covering 24 barangays.
While rebuilding works are ongoing in ground zero, Del Rosario said the larger part of Marawi has actually been “alive” and “booming” with economic activity.
He argued that a Washington Post story stating Marawi was still a ghost town was far from the truth.
“Mukhang masyadong off tangent ito sa katotohanan at kung ano nangyayari talaga sa Marawi City. Pag sinabi kasi nating ghost city, ang pumapasok sa ating mind eh walang nangyayari at napapabayaan ng gobyerno na wala pong katotohanan [The story is off tangent from the truth and what’s happening in Marawi City. When you say ghost city, what comes to mind is nothing was happening and the government has neglected it, this is false],” he said.
“Ang Marawi City ngayon, if you will go there, mahirapan kang makarating hanggang sa center of the city dahil napaka grabe ng traffic. Business activity, economic activity and movement of people so many vehicles, ang nagpupunta na sa Marawi City at this triggers economic activity [If you will go to Marawi City today, you’ll have difficulty reaching the center of the city due to traffic. There are business activity, economic activity and movement of people, there are so many vehicles going to Marawi City and this triggers economic activity],” he said.
He said if the Washington Post writer was referring to Marawi’s most affected areas, these places devastated by the terror siege only span 250 hectares or 3% of the total area of 8,000 hectares.
Meantime, Del Rosario admitted that getting the consent of Marawi landowners was one of the challenges in implementing the land development plan for Marawi.
Citing an example, he said of the 1,000 Marawi families, 550 did not give consent to the government to demolish the houses and develop the land.
“There is a challenge on the part of national government as well as on the ground because there must [exist] a relationship between the national government, local government and the residents but of course with our determination, we can have a middle ground to ensure that we can conduct the rehabilitation as smoothly as possible,” he said.