Marawi land prices surge amid rehab plans

MANILA The market value of some parcels of land in Marawi has skyrocketed, prompting the government's Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to find out if the PHP55 billion it had approved for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city is enough.

In a Palace press briefing on Friday, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said some landowners have been demanding 10 times their lots' previous acquisition cost.

The previous market value was PHP500 per square meter, and then, there is an asking price that has reached us, that is PHP5,000 per square meter, Navarro told the media.

She said the surge in land value in Marawi is just one of the speculative activities that the government needs to address "as a result of the armed conflict and as a consequence of the flurry of planning activities.

It's just an illustration of concerns that we are facing in the vetting of the cost of the different PPAs (programs, projects and activities), Navarro said. Some people see opportunities, and that's why there are speculative activities. So we really need all the government agencies involved in the TFBM to further vet the assumptions made in the cost of PPAs."

The economic planning official said she is hoping that TFBM chairperson Eduardo del Rosario would be able to come up with strong statements to address the demand of some landowners.

If there is a pronouncement from a government official that would effectively say that, no, we won't accept 10 times the former market value of the land in Marawi, then that pronouncement of an official could be effective in sort of reducing the speculative activities, she said.

She noted that the PHP55 billion allotted for Marawi rehabilitation would be only for nearly 900 PPAs under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) outside Marawi's most affected area.

Earlier, del Rosario announced that another PHP17.2 billion would be needed for the rebuilding of the 250-hectare most affected area in Marawi, covering 24 barangays.

So we are now looking at around PHP72.2 billion for the development of both the most affected area and outside the most affected area, Navarro explained.

She said all the PPAs have to be approved first by President Rodrigo R. Duterte before these could be implemented.

To raise the PHP55 billion, Navarro said the Department of Finance would conduct a pledging session with potential Official Development Assistance (ODA) sources from the US, Japan, China, Spain, and Australia, and multilaterals, such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

They also are thinking of floating Marawi bonds and this funding support can be used as agency budget support and some can be directly used to fund specific projects. So everything is still being discussed under the resource mobilization support group, Navarro said.

She said the bond flotation is expected to raise at least PHP20 billion.

According to Navarro, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has initially allotted PHP10 billion for Marawi's rehabilitation and recovery program.

TFBM spokesperson Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima said the government remains on target to start the rebuilding of the most affected area by June this year.

Purisima said the terms and conditions of the contract with the Bangon Marawi Consortium are being fine-tuned by the task force.

So once this is done, we will continue with the Swiss Challenge. We are still on track with the target, which is groundbreaking by June. We are just finalizing the terms, Purisima said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency