Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Erin Tañada on Sunday said the government must use the billions of pesos of rehabilitation funds to help Marawi residents rebuild their lives and their livelihood.

As of April 2018, government has released about P5.2 billion for rehabilitation efforts of the once commercial and cultural capital.

“Sa nakita ko, halos walang pagbabago sa ground zero. Giba-giba pa rin ang mga bahay, ang mga tindahan, mga upisina ng gobyerno, mga mosque. Nasaan ang bilyon-bilyong piso na rehabilitation funds na nilaan para maitayo ulit ang Marawi? (From what I saw, there has hardly been any change at ground zero. The houses, commercial establishments, government offices, mosques remain in rubbles. Where are the billions of pesos in rehabilitation funds allocated to rebuild Marawi?)” Tañada asked.

Government said it plans to develop Marawi’s ground zero from the ground and bring back the glory of the once bustling Islamic city. Plans include road widening, underground power lines, new drainage system, and waste and water treatment facilities.

“Ang ganda ng mga plano para maibalik ang dating Marawi pero dapat kasama mismo ang mga apektado sa pagpaplano sa pagtatayong muli ng kanilang mga tahanan at lungsod. Kailangang kasama sila sa aktwal na pagtataguyod muli ng kanilang buhay at kabuhayan (The plans to rebuild Marawi look good but the affected must be part of the plans to rebuild their homes and their city. They should be part of the actual rebuilding of their lives and livelihood),” Tañada said.  

In January 2018, or a couple of months after Marawi was declared free of terrorists in October 2017, government estimated that at least P49.8 billion is needed to rehabilitate the city. The fierce battles between Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City from May to October 2017 left some 1,100 dead, mostly terrorists, and over 350,000 displaced.

Tañada demanded that the government address the plight of the thousands of displaced residents and to account for the billions of pesos in public funds allocated and private monies donated for the city’s rehabilitation.

“Pag pinag-uusapan ang Marawi, parating nalulunod ang kwento ng libo-libong pamilyang nawalan ng tahanan sa labanang nangyari noong 2017 sa bilyon-bilyong pisong nagastos, ipinangako, at tinarget para sa rehabilitasyon ng syudad (When talk about Marawi surfaces, the fate of the thousands of displaced families from the fighting two years ago is always drowned by the billions of pesos spent, pledged, and targeted for the city’s rehabilitation),” Tañada said.

Tañada, who went to Marawi with fellow Otso Diretso candidate and displaced Marawi resident Samira Gutoc on Thursday, saw that the city remains a ghost town. He also talked to the displaced residents in temporary shelters who all wanted to return home.

“Sinasabi ng pamahalaan na daang milyon na ang nagastos, pero bakit libo-libo pa rin ang nakatira sa temporary shelter at walang kabuhayan? (The government has been saying that hundreds of millions have already been spent, but why are thousands still in temporary shelters without livelihood?)” Tañada said.

“Bakit hindi pa pabalikin ang mga residente sa mga tahanan nila? Bakit hindi tinutulungan ng gobyerno na maitayo ulit ang mga tahanan nila at maitaguyod muli ang kanilang mga kabuhayan? (Why are the residents still kept from returning to their homes? Why is the government not helping them rebuild their homes and their livelihood?)” Tañada asked.

The five-month siege in Marawi City in 2017 cost over P17 billion in damage to property damage (P11 billion) and lost opportunities (P6.6 bilion).

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Gutoc and Tanada in Marawi
Otso Diretso candidates Erin Tañada (left) and Samira Gutoc, who was herself displaced by the Marawi siege, were at ground zero on March 28, 2019, Thursday, and saw that much of the area is still in rubbles. PHOTO BY OTSO DIRETSO CAMPAIGN TEAM