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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Rebuilding Marawi and the ‘resilience’ of terrorists

/ 04:02 AM November 09, 2020

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) launched its own program to help rebuild Marawi City more than a week ago—and more than three years after its so-called “liberation” from terrorist groups. The program is part of the recommendations included in a 127-page report prepared by the 29-member Special Committee on Marawi (SCM), of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim lawmaking body of the BARMM.

A total of P500 million from the 2020 BARMM budget has been allocated for the project. It will be implemented as part of the region’s Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Growth and Empowerment Program.

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The SCM came up with a very comprehensive and detailed report. Among others, it highlighted the bureaucratic rigmarole that displaced families have to go through in order to avail themselves of assistance, whether it was food, cash, or livelihood. Many displaced individuals complained that distribution and amount of assistance were inequitable. Some received a paltry sum, while others received three types of assistance. Some unfortunate others did not receive anything at all, especially home-based displaced families—those who chose to stay in the homes of their relatives in other parts of the city and in different localities in Lanao del Sur, and even in places like General Santos City. There were also complaints that the same type of livelihood project engendered an unhealthy competition since it led to a saturation of the same products in the local market.

Allegations of corruption in the management of relief and rehabilitation funds were also described in the report, affirming the popular notion that the misery of survivors of wars is a pot of gold for others, like those tasked to manage relief and rehabilitation efforts. Survivors of wars are victimized threefold: they suffer trauma from seeing their homes destroyed, and lose loved ones in the war; then, after the smoke clears, they also find their homes emptied of portable and handy “lootable” treasures like gold jewelry and other prized heirlooms. All these happened to the survivors of the Marawi war.

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The report also disclosed Task Force Bangon Marawi’s (TFBM) selling of the metal-based debris (scrap iron) from the now flattened most affected area (MAA) or “Ground Zero.” In 2019, TFBM decided to sell the debris without consulting the homeowner-victims. TFBM claimed that the revenues from the sale of the debris will be put into a trust fund for the homeowners in the MAA. But, as the report noted, this was in violation of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between TFBM and the Development Assistance Team (DAT) in 2018. One of the key provisions in this MOA was for TFBM and DAT to “collaborate, meet, discuss, share information, throughout the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation process.” Selling the debris without determining which part and how much of the debris belonged to which survivor will pose problems later in distributing the proceeds of the sale, and in the possibility of favoring some of the survivors over others by those who will manage the distribution of funds.

More importantly, flattening the MAA without identifying boundary marks between properties can also lead to enmity among former neighbors who are also friends, since no evidence of the boundaries remained after TFBM hired bulldozers to flatten the entire 250-hectare area composed of 24 barangays.

The Marawi war was made possible through a flippant, puerile order of the Commander in Chief of the country’s armed

forces. Within five months, it destroyed what took the Meranaw decades and generations of their people to build and nurture. Indeed, making war is easier than waging peace. It was also an indolent way of assessing and

addressing security threats posed by the ragtag Maute Group.

More than three years after the siege, the “President’s soldiers” are still waging a seemingly endless battle against the remnants of the terrorists they fought in Marawi, who have since then manifested resilience in contesting the military prowess of the Philippine state.

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TAGS: Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Marawi rehabilitation, Marawi siege, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, terrorists
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