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Demolition of houses in Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero’ begins

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By Bonita Ermac 

MARAWI CITY – Mayor Majul Gandamra and his relatives were teary-eyed when the demolition team started to level his house at Osmeña street, Barangay Sangkay here Thursday.

Gandamra’s property was the first to go among more than 400 houses which had been cleared for demolition of the 6,800 structures in the most affected area (MAA).

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Gandamra was allowed to step inside his badly damaged property for the first time since the Marawi siege before it was torn down by the demolition team.

“Of course may konting sakit sa dibdib (I felt sad)” as he was remembered the times he, his parents and siblings spent in the house as they were growing up and how beautiful Marawi was before the siege.

“Pero we have to move on, kailangan malagyan ng closure (there has to be a closure),” he said believing the national government will help rehabilitate Marawi.

“Yung mga bahay dito na di na mapakinabangan ay dapat talaga idemolish otherwise we cannot start with the rehabilitation proper.”

But not all will be hammered down according to the mayor. “Hindi naman lahat ng bahay sisirain, yung mga bahay na mapapakinabangan of course they will be given a chance na sasabihin nila kung gigibain o hindi,” he added.

Thursday’s demolition came a month after the National Housing Authority (NHA) ordered to stop the clearing operation at sector 1 in the MAA.

Boundaries will be respected

In December, the demolition and clearing operations by Finmat at sector 1 in MAA was suspended following complaints that about 60 houses were demolished without the consent of owners.

On Valentine’s Day, the equipments of the CJI general services were positioned at sector 5 which signaled the start of the demolition and clearing operations from sector 2 to 9.

It started from the house of Mayor Gandamra which had clearance from the mayor supported by a demolition permit from the city.

“Pag idedemolish namin iyun dapat andiyan ang may-ari at secondly, lahat ng concerned agency na pipirma dun sa papel ng demolisyon, ok lahat (when we demolish structures, the owner of the property has to be present and demolition permits should have the signatures of all agencies concerned,” said NHA engineer Ikmat Bantuas.

Prior to demolition, he said homeowners would be properly informed of how the team would go about their properties.

The demolition and clearing operations will last for eight months provided all homeowners have their permits ready.

Engineer Bantuas allayed the fears of the displaced residents over the downsizing of their properties. The NHA assured boundaries will be restored with full documentation.
“Ang problema kasi yung idps natin akala nila yung property nila mawawala yung boundary. Ipapakita natin na marerestore wholely.”

According to NHA, homeowners who won’t agree to let their homes be demolished will shoulder clearing expense.

“Kung hindi tatamaan sa proyekto ng gobyerno, walang problema kung ayaw nila magpa-demolish, hindi namin ita-touch pero hindi namin babalikan, sila na ang gagawa at gagastos,” said Bantuas.

A full blast of demolition and clearing operations of sector 2 to 9 is expected next week.

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