MARAWI CITY -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Northern Mindanao have started building two model houses before constructing some 5,000 temporary shelters for families displaced by the fighting between extremists and government forces.

The DPWH is doing the work in partnership with Army engineers and the Marawi City Engineer’s Office in constructing the transition houses as part of the early recovery and rehabilitation process.

The construction started even as government troops continue to attack the remaining extremists estimated to be some 60 fighters.

DPWH-Northern Mindanao resident engineer Abdulracman Paunte said they are expecting that the model houses will be done after a week of work.

“Model house po (ito’ng ginagawa natin) ng Task Force Bangon Marawi, temporary shelter. ‘Yan ay pre-fabricated, ‘yan ay steel house, it is 26 square meters (floor area) at 4 x 7.7 metters (dimension). Ang tatlong unit (na row house) at pwedeng matapos in 8 days,” Paunte said.

Each unit, Paunte said, will be occupied by one family.

The DPWH is also making a house with a different design and which is made of lumber and plywood with the dimension of 4 x 6 square meters and which will also be occupied by one family.

The 11-hectare relocation site is located in Sagongsongan village, Marawi City and is divided into five areas which will accommodate one thousand houses each.

Each area has communal kitchens, comfort rooms and washing areas. The electrical lines and water pipes will be installed by the Lanao Del Sur Electric Company and the Local Water Utilities Administration.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonjie Juguilon, commander of the 549th Engineer Construction Battalion, Philippine Army, said their role in the rehabilitation program is to give support to Task Force Bangon Marawi, where the 54th Engineer Brigade was the first unit of army engineers extended its support.

“Initially, ang mga equipment natin na pinadala na dito ay nandun na sa area kung saan nandun ‘yung conflict, then we have another backhoe equipment diyan sa Camp Ranao to support our troops, at the same time, we have another equipment like bulldozer, grader, backhoe loader para nag-start na talaga, kapag nag-full bloom na ‘yung rehabilitation, the Army is ready to respond,” Juguilon said.

Juguilon added that the Army engineers will not only construct the temporary shelters but also to secure civilian workers who are in the site the entire week.

“We are here to provide all necessary needs and support we can give before, during and after the construction of the shelters,” he said.

Marawi City’s Field Engineer Mike Gulem said they are commissioning the evacuees as construction workers and laborers to have a sense of ownership.

“Four workers will be paid P15,000 to construct a single-detached house,” Gulem said.