By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Tuesday said he is ready to endorse the appeal of the residents of Marawi City to be given financial assistance so they can pursue rebuilding their homes that have been destroyed during the local armed conflict instigated by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group.
Ejercito made the promise after hearing the side of the chairman of the government’s Task Force Bangon Marawi, Eduardo Del Rosario, who took into consideration the sentiments of the Marawi City residents.
“I was really surprised when they said they accepted the option raised by the residents and that they will study it,” Ejercito told reporters after a hearing.
“That they will draw up a scheme, this third option to extend financial assistance to the residents of Marawi so they can rebuild their houses individually, on their own, and admittedly that’s going to be faster. No more contractors,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, held a public hearing on the status of the Marawi rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Those who attended the hearing included representatives of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), NHA, Departments of Budget and Management (DBM), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local officials of Marawi city.
Ejercito said his committee recognizes the difficulty for the government to oversee the task of constructing houses especially in a war-torn city like Marawi.
“It’s difficult, especially if you have to consider the land development and the actual development of the home, construction, and then the consolidation, the design,” the senator pointed out.
That alone, he said, may take the government a minimum of three years before they can start reconstruction processes.
The senator said it is also imperative that authorities respect the cultural background of Marawi City, whose constituents are predominantly Muslims.
“So I think it’s a better option to just give them funds. And I think it’s very sacred, you also gave importance to their heritage, beliefs, history. It’s a big thing,” he said.
He however declined to give an exact figure when asked how much the government is willing to give the residents saying this will have to be finalized by the task force.
Statistics given by the task force show that at least 11,000 buildings—mostly business and residential houses—were torn or heavily damaged during the conflict.
Of the 11,000 buildings, 8,000 of them are considered legitimate or formal residences while 3,000 are informal.