By Edith Caduaya(First of two parts)
Marawi City—Mayor Majul Gandamra said economic activity in the war-torn city is coming back, as more sectors have been cleared by the military, which allowed Marawi to celebrate its 79th charter anniversary for four days last week.
“This is a testament that we are slowly recovering from the scars of a fierce battle,” Gandamra said.
Addressing his people during the anniversary celebration, an emotional Gandamra said: ”I would like to thank each and every Marawi citizen and everyone who believes in Marawi, every man, woman, and child in Marawi, for caring, for striving, for doing what is good for the city. For being strong and resilient, for their courage and determination that someday, life will get better.
“For coming back, for showing what Marawi means to you and your families. Kayo po ang tunay na lakas at pag-asa sa ating Marawi, kayo ang inspirasyon namin dito sa Marawi LGU, ang dahilan kung bakit gumigising po kami araw-araw upang pumunta sa city hall para paglingkuran namin kayo, mahal naming mga kababayan dito sa Marawi.”
“Marawi is not a ghost city, people should look around. The Most Affected Area (MAA) is just 25 hectares of the whole city. Look around, we are there, people are alive, people have returned to their normal routine, we are people -- we are not ghosts,” the mayor said.
Gandamra said the ongoing rehabilitation projects inside and outside the MAA or “ground zero” are proof that the city “will rise again.”
“Twenty-four months to move in from the rubble is not enough. Losing loved ones, devastated loves and shattered dreams cannot be undone in two years. What is paramount is the love to live a new life with a hope of a strengthened community, which is based on everyone’s support and cooperation,” Gandamra said.
The mayor said the ongoing recovery of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the demolition of properties have contributed to the delay in the rehabilitation time frame.
Gandamra stressed that safety and security is the utmost consideration in the clearing operations.
But even while rehabilitation is ongoing, some projects, which were just a dream before, are now realities. These are the flood control project right before the Mapandi bridge at the center of Marawi and the diversion road from Saguiaran town to the Poblacion (town center) of Marawi, the mayor said.
The diversion road earned a moniker “dream road” because no one would believe that the promised road by the late Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Sr. would be realized.
Saguiaran, which used to be a sleepy town, is now gaining economic activity since the temporary shelter of the displaced families is in Sagonsongan village, at the boundary of Marawi and Saguiaran.
A report made by Project Rise dated August 8, 2019 showed that a total of 330 explosive remnants of war (ERWs) were recovered and were already neutralized and disposed.
Project Rise is a government body tasked with the rehabilitation of Marawi.
A total of 70 UXOs were also recovered, mostly by the members of debris management in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Six were exploded and detonated, while 42 others are for detection and recovery.
Sectors 1, 2 and 3 of the MAA are 99 percent cleared of UXOs, while Sector 5 is already 80 percent cleared, the city government said.
The mayor said the refusal of some property owners to allow the demolition of their properties also contributed to the delays in the rehabilitation.
“Getting their consent took so long, because most of them are not residing here, while others have yet to decide what to do with their spaces,” he said.
Gandamra said residents could visit their properties to assess them for repair or demolition, with the help of government agencies.
As of August 7, Project Rise reported that a total of 2,804 property owners have already issued consent for demolition.
Government has already demolished a total of 1,875 structures, 1,720 of which have already been cleared of debris.
Project Rise recorded a total of 5,403 actual structures in the nine affected sectors of the city. It also reported a 52.48-percent accomplishment as of July 31, 2019, based on the timeline of Marawi’s rehabilitation.
As scheduled, the dates of reentry for residents are: Section 1 - end of July; Sections 2 and 3 - end of August; Sections 4 and 5 - end of September; Sections 6 and 7- end of October; and Sections 8 and 9 - end of November this year.
Eric Ybañez, the Marawi rehab project engineer from the National Housing Authority, said they are working as scheduled. “We are doing as planned and with caution, because we cannot compromise the security of the people,” he said.
[To be continued]
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