Rep. Adiong bats for fresh fervor in rebuilding Marawi

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Congressman Zia Alonto-Adiong has called for more cohesion and fervor in the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City and the rehabilitation of its people under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. amid residents’ lingering dissatisfaction over past strides.

“The landscape in Lanao del Sur has changed in the last five years, and our new mandate from the people gives us the chance to change it for the better,” Rep. Adiong said in a statement anticipating President Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address (SONA) scheduled on Monday, July 25.

Like Marcos’ sweeping victory in this year’s presidential race, Adiong also overwhelmingly won the 1st Congressional seat of Lanao del Sur covering Marawi City.

Adiong’s statement implied an enthusiasm for more focused, comprehensive and meaningful rehabilitation efforts for Marawi City and its residents under the new administration. The young lawmaker is also a city resident.

Despite resident’s lingering displeasure in the snail-paced reconstruction, Rep. Adiong said: “We appreciate the work that has already been accomplished in Marawi, and we look forward to doing more with the current administration in the next six years.”

The new President was “very busy” lately in writing his own first SONA message, a Philippine News Agency report attributed to Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez said.

Rep. Adiong, a former legislator of both the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the preceding regional autonomous governance, was expecting to hear that Marawi City’s reconstruction would remain a priority with more fervor under the new administration.

Marawi City virtually turned into rubbles when state security forces used massive air and ground attacks to flush out terror-bound militants that occupied vital installations in the city for weeks starting on May 23, 2017.  

On 28 June 2017, Malacañang formed the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) through Administrative Order No, 03 to “take charge of a comprehensive and integrated rehabilitation program” for Marawi City and other affected areas.

To complement the rehabilitation program, Congress passed in April this year the Marawi Compensation Bill into R.A. 11696 to indemnify properties destroyed during the siege, especially those of displaced thousands of residents. The bill was introduced in the House by lawmakers, including then Rep. Hooky Alonto-Adiong, the predecessor and elder brother of Zia.

Rep. Zia, who has served as spokesman for the provincial government’s crisis committee during the siege, said the passage of R.A. 11696 “unequivocally acknowledges the people’s claim to land and property as it lends the support of the state in making sure that these claims are met with urgency.”

But “the implementation of RA 11696 seems to overlap with the mandate of TFBM,” Rep. Zia said in his statement meant to elicit a policy under the new administration that may harmonize existing laws, the mandates of the TFBM and of the BARMM governance.

R.A. 11696 affirms that “providing compensation or reparation to the internally-displaced persons (DPs) of the 2017 Marawi Siege whose damaged or demolished properties and possessions cannot be recovered” is state policy, as it recognizes “the essence of providing reparation and compensation for persons and families whose rights were violated and whose economic, social, and cultural rights were unfulfilled as a result of armed conflicts.”

“Rehabilitation requires more than reconstruction,” Cong. Zia said, “and we hope that the current administration can unite with us in our mission to facilitate the long but necessary process of healing among our communities.”

Coordination and cooperation

Given the extent of Marawi City rehabilitation and the context of an ongoing political transition in the BARMM, Rep. Zia pointed out that “inter-agency cooperation and intergovernmental relations with the national government is crucial to the successful implementation of RA 11696.”

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (R.A. 11054) mandates the creation of the Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB) to facilitate better coordination between BARMM and national authorities.

The IGRB co-chaired by former Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal has presented two progress reports to former President Duterte, consisting mostly of administrative steps such as the turnover of properties and assets previously under offices of the national government located in BARMM to the regional government itself.

The IGRB and other related mechanisms will definitely have “crucial roles” in the implementation of RA 11696 and in the ongoing political transition in the BARMM, the lawmaker said.

The success of the political transition largely depends on inter-governmental gains in terms of normalization and transitional justice in the Bangsamoro region. 

For his part, Rep. Adiong said, he was intending to introduce measures that may help hasten the rebuilding pace of Marawi City and the rehabilitation of displaced residents, on one hand, and spell out steps for prompt completion of the transitional political landscape in the regional autonomy.

Meanwhile, many concerned Marawi City residents continued to appeal for comprehensive implementation of TFBM reconstruction strides in their localities.

Some of them have been taking to social media their sentiments about grey areas in the TFBM projects, notably in the imbalanced construction of infrastructures in the city’s “ground zero” and in the rehabilitation of displaced people.

They posted some photos showing the sad conditions of access roads to housing units built by the government to relocate displaced residents. (AGM)

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