POOR coordination with the national government could lead to malversation of funds in rebuilding the war-torn Marawi City, experts have warned.
Dennis Coronacion, chairman of the UST Political Science department, said the government was bound to repeat the mistakes in the rehabilitation of Tacloban in Leyte after the 2013 Typhoon Yolanda calamity without coordination between the national and local governments.
“We should learn from the lessons of Yolanda. The temporary shelters have not been completed [and] only 2 percent of the promised shelters have been built so far. [So] if you rehabilitate Marawi, there should be a smoother relationship between the national government and the local government,” Coronacion told the Varsitarian.
The Department of Budget and Management allotted P5 billion to rebuild Marawi in 2017, and P10 billion in 2018, eyeing 2,747 permanent housing units for Marawi residents.
Coronacion said the government must practice transparency in the cash flow and distribution of relief funds by “[creating] guidelines in disbursing funds, posting the amount of certain projects in public places and involving the Commission on Audit.”
Kabataan Party Rep. Sara Elago said the national and local governments must consider the interest of Marawi citizens to avoid wasting rehabilitation funds.
“What we need here is to not treat [rehabilitation] as a business and not a source of corruption. We should not think of personal interest and profiteering but the interest of Marawi citizens who are victims of the crisis,” Elago said in a chance interview.
Eduardo del Rosario, head of Task Force Bangon Marawi, the government’s inter-agency task force for the rehabilitation, assured the public that they would allow the Marawi citizens to be involved in the rehabilitation of the city.
“[We include the] engagement and inclusion of the Marawi residents in all the plans of the government. And on our part, we will ensure that what we plan, that what we promise, will be delivered to them,” del Rosario said in a press briefing last Nov. 10.
‘Protect Muslim identity’
Eric Zerrudo, director of the UST Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, said Muslim scholars should be involved in the rehabilitation to protect the identity of Muslim culture in Marawi City.
“[Architects and urban planners] have to involve Muslim scholars [to be] sensitive enough to their alleys and their whole life cycle,” Zerrudo told the Varsitarian.
“You have to put into consideration the whole rebuilding of the whole city… Their psyche is based on their religion…You have to rebuild mosques and even their market trades.”
A “people first” plan should be maintained to preserve Islamic culture in the rehabilitation, said Felino Palafox Jr., Thomasian architect and urban planner.
“The crisis in Marawi gives opportunity to a better, smarter, safer and more sustainable [rehabilitation plan.] We can make [Marawi into] an international Islamic interface and an inclusive and more environment-friendly city,” Palafox said in a phone interview.
Policies on land titles should also be enforced to assure the Maranaos that they will own a piece of land, and to prevent land-grabbing, Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said.
“There should be land-titling in order to [give assurance to the public] that the people will own a piece of land… In the absence of a clear plan on land titling, [it] might start a new rebellion,” Casiple told the Varsitarian.
Marawi has the largest population in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with 201,785 resdients, figures from the 2015 census showed.
Marawi City, which is dominated by the Maranaos, is known for market trade and is considered the country’s Islamic capital.
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