Residents of the war-torn city of Marawi in the southern Philippines hit what they described as the poor implementation of the government’s rehabilitation program in the devastated area.
The group Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch said the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Mindanao’s Islamic city is “a total mess.”
In a media briefing on Nov. 7, the group denounced the government agencies tasked to implement the recovery program for their “inability to account for its actions.”
“They have been feeding us for so long with practically nothing about the status of the rehabilitation,” said Rolanisah Dipatuan, chief of staff of the Ministry of Health of the Muslim autonomous region.
She said the agencies failed to explain where the funds for the recovery and rehabilitation went “because the lives of the people haven’t changed.”
Dipatuan’s group called for a “clear accounting” of the more than US$109 million, which was released from the 2018 government funds allocated for the rehabilitation program.
On May 23, 2017, at least 400,000 people fled after a local terror group tried to occupy Marawi City.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under military rule to suppress violent extremism.
Saripada Pacasum Jr., head of the local disaster and risk reduction management office in Lanao del Sur province, also demanded for “transparency” on the status of the rehabilitation of Marawi.
“It’s been more than two years already. We are all suffering,” he said.
Pacasum said his group is not out to condemn “but to troubleshoot problems” that may arise out of the rehabilitation process.
“It seems that the government has no plans to compensate the victims of the war,” he said.
A bill has been pending in the Lower House of Congress for compensation of war victims.
Fedelinda Tawagon, president of Dansalan College Foundation, said apart from the delay of the rehabilitation, residents are deprived of other social services.
She said there are “not enough educational facilities” because many of the schools were destroyed.
“That’s why there is a need to include the private sector to the compensation package,” said Tawagon.
She warned that the Marawi problem “might invite tension” if the government fails to address it.
The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch urged the government to involve a third-party private organization to monitor the recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the city.
They said some initiatives should be given prompt attention, including the building of permanent shelters instead of the proposed establishment of a military camp.