Senate revives special committee on Marawi City rehabilitation

The Senate recently reconstituted the Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation to finish its mandate to inquire into matters relating to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city.

"Our goal is to promote the welfare of victims of the five-month Marawi siege from May 23 to October 23 in 2017. It is sad, that although government successfully routed the terrorists two years ago, the suffering continues for our Muslim Filipino brothers. They have endured war, now they have to put up with slow utilization of the rehabilitation funds some of which are donations from Islamic countries," Senate Majority Leader Migz F. Zubiri stressed.

The Department of Finance (DOF) estimated that complete rehabilitation will entail P72.2 Billion. The National Government (NG) has raised P67.99 Billion as the Marawi Rehabilitation fund from various sources, as follows:

P41.81Billion from NG; P6.64B from humanitarian aid by the country's bilateral and multilateral partners; and, P35.17B from development partners in the form of concessional loans and grants.

The NG has released P12.4 Billion, of which P10.9 B was for relief and livelihood assistance and P1.5 B for shelter component by the National Housing Authority, as of the 1st Semester, 2019.

"The Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation instituted in the Seventeenth Congress had failed to accomplish its tasks fully. It failed not for lack of effort by the Senate Special Committee, but, more because of the reluctant compliance of parties as required by the Senators. Thus, the need to revive it so that Congress can exercise its oversight functions on agencies directly involved to satisfy the public demand for transparency and accountability."

"There are reports that the funds accumulated from government appropriations and donations intended for the victims of the Marawi City siege and for the rehabilitation of Marawi City are poorly utilized or otherwise released and utilized to sponsor the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) expenses of select individuals instead of addressing the damage caused by the Marawi City crisis to property, infrastructure and facilities which require extensive repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction works and activities," Zubiri said in filing Senate Resolution No. 66.

"There are also reports that, in view of the slow progress in rehabilitation, there are still a huge number of displaced families and individuals and continued loss of economic opportunities as well as physical, emotional and psychological distress of the Marawi City siege victims," Zubiri added.

The Special Committee was tasked "to study, review, assess, examine, investigate and inquire" into four major issues:

1) Extent of damage to properties, infrastructure and facilities such as roads, bridges schools, hospitals, buildings and other structures;

2) Estimated cost of construction and rehabilitation;

3) Actions necessary for immediate post-disaster recovery, rehabilitation and normalization of the community; and

4) Other matters for the city's reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The resolution that created the special committee two years ago was in response to Marawi residents' plea for help and President Duterte's call to provide full support, assistance and cooperation to Task Force Bangon Marawi.

Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa is the newly-designated Special Committee chair following the Senate's passage of Adopted Senate Resolution No. 8 sponsored by Zubiri. Elected as panel vice chair is Sen. Francis "Tol" Tolentino while Senators Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos, Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III were named members.

Source: Senate of the Philippines