‘Fast-track rehab of Marawi City’, urges Piñol

Published August 11, 2020, 5:53 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Manny Piñol gave an ominous warning Tuesday to the Duterte administration regarding the much-delayed rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.

Piñol was making a presentation about the Mindanao development plan before members of the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs in a virtual hearing when he brought up the subject of war-torn Marawi out of the blue.

“We can no longer be deaf to the pleadings and appeals of the people of Marawi for us to fast-track the repair and rehabilitation of (the city),” said the former North Cotabato governor and Deparment of Agriculture secretary.

“All of the good will that our government has achieved by bringing peace to Mindanao through the Bangsamoro Organic Law will go to naught, Mr. Chairman, if we are not able to respond to this problem,” Piñol said.

It was on May 23, 2017 when an estimated 1,000 ISIS-inspired Maute Group terrorists occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. It took the military and police five months to drive out the enemy, with the extensive shelling and bombing leaving the Islamic city in ruins.

Some 25,355 families or a total of 126,775 individuals were displaced by the siege three years ago, figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicated. Some 17,000 remain in temporary shelters.

Earlier in the hearing, Police Colonel Eduardo Abaday reported to the House panel that the Maute Group still had 42 active members in both Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

He said the Maute Group is one of five local terrorist groups (LTGs) in Mindanao, the other four being the Abu Sayyaf Group (operating in Basilan and Sulu), the Hassan and Turaifie Groups (both in Maguindanao), and the Maguid Group (Sarangani). Some of these groups have also partnered up with normal criminal groups, he added.

“The link between the criminal groups and the local terrorist groups is significant, making them more confident in launching their respective operations,” Abaday said.

Panel chairman, Lanao del Norte 1st district Rep. Khalid Dimaporo agreed with Piñol’s assessment of the Marawi situation.

“I’d like to applaud (and take) cognizance of our Secretary Manny Piñol on the problem of the Marawi rehabilitation program. I think we can all agree that this is a security threat for us if the Duterte administration will not succeed in completing its rehabilitation plan in Marawi City,” he said.

“That’s one of our largest and gravest concerns especially among legislators from BARMM (Bangsamoro of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and legislators from Region X. We want the Duterte administration to succeed in the rehabilitation efforts of Marawi City. And we will be pushing and fighting for it and try our best that they would succeed.

“Unfortunately, we have to settle with the reality that we have a major setback because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So if we need to secure funds through legislation, I hope we can work together on that, Secretary Piñol,” Dimaporo further said.