By Mario Casayuran
To speed up Marawi City’s business and social rehabilitation two years after a terrorist siege left it in ruins, neophyte Senator Imee R. Marcos has proposed to exempt joint-venture agreements (JVA’s) in Marawi from government procurement and investment restrictions.
This as the Senate economic affairs committee starts today its first public hearing on a bill she has filed and hear testimonies on how best to set up a Bangon Marawi Council tasked to design special JVA’s, rebuild mosques in consultation with Muslim leaders, and expedite the issuance of land titles that would also cover reservation areas no longer used by the military.
Section 6 of Marcos’ Senate Bill 410 exempts the council from National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) guidelines on JVA’s but contracts will still require the nod of NEDA, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Public-Private Partnership Center to ensure “efficiency, transparency, competitiveness and accountability.
The lady senator said easing government restrictions “shall apply only to the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation projects for the most affected areas of Marawi City” and must be “consistent with all applicable laws.’’
Marawi’s complete rehabilitation may take “many years, even decades,” Marcos said.
“It is important to start now with the restoration of the main mosque which is the central fixture of the community,’’ she explained.
Marcos asserts that the government could reduce national poverty incidence by 40 percent if its poverty reduction programs increase attention to Mindanao.
The Bangon Marawi Council will replace the provisional nature and limited purpose of the government’s two-year-old Task Force Bangon Marawi.
The council will also be tasked to install more shelters for the displaced, rebuild madrassahs and other public infrastructure, and restore water, electricity, telecommunication facilities, and an environment conducive to reviving business so that Marawi’s population can find more jobs.
Monthly progress reports will be required of the Bangon Marawi Council, with the President as its chairman, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman as secretary general, and Cabinet secretaries as ex-officio members.
A joint congressional oversight committee composed of Upper and Lower House members will evaluate the council’s progress toward its goals.