By Chris Cabajar
QUEZON CITY, May 21 – Task Force Bangon Marawi chair and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo del Rosario sees the government’s latest move in approving the budget intended for Marawi projects as a “huge boost” to efforts in hastening the Islamic city’s rehabilitation following the 2017 siege.
 
The Office of the President has approved this year the release of P3.56-billion budget with Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) by DBM to the different implementing agencies to fast-track the completion of the projects under the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program.
 
“This serves as a huge boost for implementing agencies as they now have the funds needed to complete their respective projects aimed at rebuilding Marawi following the May 2017 siege perpetrated by the Maute terrorist group,” Secretary del Rosario said.
 
“They can now focus on their timelines and carry out measures to hasten their projects,” he added.
 
Out of the total approved budget, the National Housing Authority (NHA) will receive the lion’s share amounting to P1.91 billion for its various temporary and permanent housing programs in Marawi. The Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) will also receive P155.7 million for its Marawi Permanent Shelter Program.
 
Meanwhile, the City Government of Marawi will receive P558.2 million to spearhead the construction of several public facilities such as the Marawi Museum, the Grand Padian Central Market and 24 barangay complexes each having their own health center and madrasah.
 
Recognizing the key role of the agricultural sector especially in the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao-Ministry of Agricultural Fisheries and Agrarian Reform was allotted P91.3 million to be utilized in improving the productivity of farmers and fisherfolks by providing Islamic Microfinance, dispersal of livestock poultry and establishment of multiplier farms (goat and native chicken) and trading posts/markets.
 
The Local Water Utilities Administration, on the other hand, is also slated to receive P766.5 million for a sewerage treatment plant project inside Marawi’s Most Affected Area, as well as to ensure potable water supply inside Ground Zero. Last year, the agency received the initial funds for both projects amounting to P134.5 million.
 
The Department of Public Works and Highways had been earmarked P80.2 million intended for road repair and reconstruction works in Marawi, while the Department of Education had been allocated P3.3-million for the distribution of learning kits.
 
Also included in the budget allocation is P20.9 million for the construction of a 1,500-linear-meter fence across the Mindanao State University to improve the protection of its students against potential security threats and P48.5 million for the Department of Interior and Local Government, through the Philippine National Police, intended for the construction of a tourist police building and a maritime building in Marawi.
 
According to Secretary del Rosario, construction works for the above projects are slated to go on full-blast beginning July this year.
 
In his message of peace meant to mark the third anniversary of the Marawi siege, Secretary del Rosario, who is also TFBM Chairman, pledged that the Task Force will continue carrying out its mandate, which is to bring normalcy back to Marawi soon as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
 
Secretary del Rosario further stated that even though the country is facing a new challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the TFBM and implementing agencies are prepared to exhaust all means in meeting their respective timelines for project completion.
 
He likewise called on those affected by the siege to remain patient and continue working with the government in ensuring the success of Marawi’s rehabilitation program. (CC/DHSUD)