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Task force denies not consulting Maranaos on Marawi rehab plans

The inter-agency task force tasked to oversee the rehabilitation of Marawi City on Monday denied that it did not consult residents on the government's plan to rehabilitate the war-torn city.

In a statement, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) spokesperson Kristoffer James Purisima said the alleged lack of consultations has "no factual basis since the local government unit and other stakeholders have been involved in the consultation process."

"It is unfortunate to note that thoughtless and senseless opposition seeks to impede, disrupt, and undo the positive and significant milestones that characterize the momentum of efforts and initiatives accomplished by Task Force Bangon Marawi thus far through inclusive dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders," he said.

"The radicalism and violent extremism that destroyed the beloved Islamic City of Marawi is the same thoughtless and senseless opposition for opposition's sake that is aimed at destroying the recovery and rehabilitation efforts before they even take root." 

Purisima issued the statement after Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement, a Maranao-led civilian group, asked President Rodrigo Duterte, through a letter, to stop the plan to establish an economic zone and a military camp in Marawi City since it was made without their participation.

Purisima said the "oppositors... believe in nothing other than their own selfishness as they intend to thrive in the chaos and lack of comprehensive governance that once characterized our beloved Marawi."

He added that the task force has been "working without pause" since Duterte established it in June last year.

"As the Task Force continues to engage the unenlightened, we will not allow our efforts to be besmirched, tarnished, and dishonored by an outlying few who embrace ignorance, spread falsehood, and wish for failure to beset what should be a united front against violence and lawlessness and for the rekindling of lives and communities," Purisima said.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said there could just be a "misunderstanding" as residents will be given an opportunity to submit their own proposals on how to rebuild their city.

"There are cultural, historical aspects that need to be respected and considered. So when you are restoring something, you are bringing it back to its condition before. Of course with much improvement but essentially iyong pagiging essence of Marawi City as a Muslim City will have to be taken into account in the restoration process," Guevarra said in a press briefing.

Asked on the appeal of the group to the President, Guevarra said it is too early to say on whether the chief executive will act on it.

"We’ll leave it to the Task Force Bangon Marawi to consider that," he said.

In December last year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez revealed plans to put up a community-based economic zone in Marawi for "small industries, local food processing, and small foundries" to boost the city's economy after it has been ravaged by a five-month war.

The government would have to spend P51.6 billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi, as the results of the post-conflict needs assessment in Marawi City and the towns of Butig and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur from August to December last year showed that damage and losses were pegged at P18.2 billion.

At least P10 billion has been allotted this year for the rehabilitation works subject to augmentation from other sources, which may include development partners and the private sector.

Duterte declared Marawi liberated in October last year after government troops killed terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute following a five-month armed conflict. More than 1,000 people, mostly terror fighters, died amid the clashes.

Clearing operations of unexploded ordnance is still ongoing in Marawi with government troops aiming to finish it by April.

Displaced residents who are from the most affected areas of the firefight are allowed to visit their homes and properties beginning April 1 until May 10. They will be accompanied by military and medical teams in order to ensure their security and safety. —Marlly Rome Bondoc/KBK, GMA News