By Wilnard Bacelonia

ILIGAN CITY, April 26 (PIA-ICCC) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte applauded the swift rebuilding of temporary shelters for the displaced households of Marawi City in the situation briefing on the effects of earthquake held at the Pampanga Provincial Capitol in San Fernando City Wednesday.

While listening to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council’s (HUDCC) update, President Duterte directly spoke to HUDCC Assistant Secretary Leira Buan, who represented HUDCC Chair Eduardo del Rosario in the briefing with the President, “Come to think of it, have you gone to Marawi? The housing, the little houses that were done by Ed?” Secretary del Rosario was in Marawi at the time of the meeting.

“In any other place, I think it has to be an elevated one, a little bit higher than the usual. But it’s okay. It’s sturdy and has a toilet and all the amenities. On the average, if you have six or seven children, it’s not enough. But if you have four or five children, you will live comfortably,” the President added.

He also commended the quick building of temporary shelters for the displaced families in the war-torn city.

“The thing I admired most is the speed that you built the houses in Marawi. What was done by Del Rosario is really good. It’s sturdy, it can stand another whatever (calamity). In truth, it’s man-made. And it was bound to happen,” Duterte maintained.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) under TFBM Subcommittee on Housing continues to accommodate displaced households in Boganga Transitory Site, which will have 1,500 units of temporary shelters.

Presently, TFBM has already accommodated 1,608 displaced households in Sagonsongan and Boganga Transitory Sites. NHA is also looking forward on finishing the Rorogagus Transitory Site before the year ends. This transitory site is said to accommodate 1,500 displaced households.

Clarification on PRRD’s latest pronouncements

The President, however, expressed his hesitation on spending government funds for the reconstruction of the displaced families’ destroyed houses.

“I won’t spend. They have more money there. Every Maranao there is a businessman. The debate is whether I will also be building the same kind that they lost. I don’t think I’m ready for that,” he said.

The statement of the President created some controversy as some groups claimed the chief executive is passing on the responsibility of rehabilitating Marawi to Maranao businessmen. However, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra explained in a TV interview that Marawi IDPs have nothing to worry about President Duterte’s statement.

“I attended a board meeting with NHA. Funds for the reconstruction of houses are already in place. It is not true that the president will make our local businessmen shoulder the reconstruction costs,” Gandamra clarified.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) former Assemblyman Zia Alonto also shed light on the misconceptions about the President’s remarks in an interview with ANC.

“What we see on the ground does not necessarily reflect this pronouncement of the President. The rehabilitation took place last year and the rehabilitation plan has already been set up. Right now, we don’t see anything that will lead us to think that government is leaving Marawi behind. The LGU is in close coordination with the TFBM.”

TFBM officials also reiterate their guarantee that the implementation of the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) is ongoing and a part of it is the reconstruction of public structures damaged and destroyed by the siege.

“Just allow us to help rehabilitate Marawi. At the end of the day, we shall turnover the city in their hands safe from the potential hazards of the unexploded bombs. We are here to support your efforts. As the Secretary General of HUDCC, I am assuring that whatever is our action, it will benefit them,” NHA General Manager Undersecretary Marcelino Escalada said.

“PRRD was just referring to rich Maranaos involved in illegal drugs and other illegal activities, not all the Maranaos in general. Marawi rehabilitation will continue until all public infrastructures are completed,” del Rosario assured. (WLBacelonia/PIA-ICCC)