MANILA – With the initial cost of rehabilitating still-under-siege Marawi City pegged at P20 billion, President Rodrigo Duterte has named the persons tasked to oversee the Islamic city’s recovery.
Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 3 creating an inter-agency task force for the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City and nearby areas affected by the five-week-old war that has left the once-bustling city in ruins from air strikes and artillery fire.
Government forces said they hope to neutralize the remnants of the Maute Group-led extremists who laid siege to Marawi on May 23, following an attempt by State troops to apprehend Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, tagged the Islamic State’s emir for Southeast Asia. Hapilon had earlier forged an alliance with the Maute Group of Lanao.
AO No. 3 signed by Duterte on June 28 put Task Force Bangon Marawi under the helm of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as chairman, with Public Works Secretary Mark Villar as co-chair.
Other members of the task force are: the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eduard M. Año; as well as the secretaries of the Departments of Education, Budget and Management, Energy, Health, Information and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology, Social Welfare and Development, Trade and Industry, and Transportation. The director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), who is concurrent socioeconomic planning secretary, is also in the task force.
Completing the members are the heads of the Local Water Utilities Administration, Mindanao Development Authority, National Electrification Administration, National Housing Authority, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Office of Civil Defense as well as the Secretary of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary and the chief of the Philippine National Police.
In the meantime, Lorenzana said that Task Force Bangon Marawi is now preparing the mechanism to go into the rehabilitational recovery as soon as the fighting stops in Marawi.
“So the first thing that we would do after the fighting stops is to clear the areas of any left IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or any explosives. After which, we are going to allow the return of the civilians, of the residents of Marawi,” he said at the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang Monday.
“So we now have a mechanism for [when the fighting there ends], we can immediately start the rehabilitation. In fact, with this document (AO 3), we can now start stockpiling construction materials for the rehabilitation of Marawi,” Lorenzana said.
The head of Bangon Marawi said that besides rebuilding the city’s infrastructure like lights, water, roads, bridges and government buildings, the task force also aims to immediately restore banks and business establishments.
“One of the things that we would like to restore immediately are the stores so that when the residents go back then they have places to buy their provisions.” He added that restoring the banks’ operations is also crucial, “so that the banking system or the businesses of the area will resume.”
Lorenzana said Bangon Marawi “will involve the local government leaders there, the mayors, the governors, the barangay captains, because we are going to establish a defense mechanism so that the event for the past month in Marawi will not be repeated.”
Meanwhile, he gave assurances that the rehabilitation of Marawi would not be politicized. “Kaya siguro ako ang inutusan ni Presidente dahil wala naman akong [Maybe the President picked me because I have no] political ambition. I will involve the politicians, especially the Mayor the Governor and the Vice Governor as well as the officials of the affected towns. But the decision will be resting on the chairman of the rehabilitation which is me,” Lorenzana said.