Ground Zero residents may return to their homes by November

Published August 12, 2019, 8:32 AM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Armando Fenequito, Jr.

MARAWI CITY – Residents of Ground Zero, also called the most affected area (MAA) in Marawi’s siege two years ago, may be able to return to their homes by November as soon as the area is cleared of debris and explosives.

A bomb sniffing dog and its handing roaming around Marawi City ground zero for possible explosives covered under the debris. (Armando Fenequito Jr. / MANILA BULLETIN)
A bomb-sniffing dog and its handler roaming around Marawi City ground zero for possible explosives covered under the debris. (Armando Fenequito Jr. / MANILA BULLETIN)

National Housing Authority (NHA) Marawi Project Management Office director Rhoderick Ibaňez said they targeted the said month to ensure that the residents inside the MAA can return to their places safely.

“Actually, kung kami (NHA) ang masusunod by September pa lang, clear na lahat (We want to clear it by the end of September),” he said.

Ibaňez explained that all clearing activities should undergo coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the local government unit.

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr said contractors are working even at night so that all inhabitants of the MAA will be able to return to the area before the year ends.

He said they are also building a blast wall in the structures there because more unexploded ordnance might blow up during the clearing operations.

Escalada said debris management should be completed first before the other projects commence since there are still unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosives inside MAA.

“Until NHA, through the help of the AFP EOD, clears the MAAs, we will give the clearance to allow people to enter the MAA,” he said.

Of the total P30.1 billion 19 development projects for Marawi’s rehabilitation, the NHA allotted P2.3 billion for debris management which is crucial to the overall development of the area.

Part of the rehabilitation projects are the master development plan, construction of road networks, public schools, barangay halls, police stations, public markets, slaughterhouse, conventions centers, and ports among others.

Escalada said that while waiting for the clearance, other agencies that are part of the development are now doing their planning and procurement.

“So, if the AFP-EOD declares that the area is already cleared by November, there will be actual construction of all these facilities,” he said.

City Mayor Majul Gandamra assured residents that their homes will be rebuilt simultaneously with the government projects.

“That is the reason why we allow them visit their respective properties and for them to assess if their homes are still sound for habitation or for repair. If it is unsound, these will be recommended for demolition,” Gandamra said.

Gandamra said the delay in the rehabilitation was due to the presence of explosives in the area.

The NHA Marawi Project Management Office reported a 52.48 percent completion of their clearing activities which includes some explosives.

As of July 31, a total of 330 explosives were recovered and disposed of by the AFP-EOD.

In its August 7 report, the contractors had already demolished 1,875 from the 5,403 total structures inside Ground Zero.  Of the total, 2,805 are for demolition.