THE resettlement site, which will temporarily house thousands of displaced residents from conflict-torn Marawi City, has been expanded to 17 hectares from the original 11 hectares.

“From the original 11 hectares, a total 17 hectares will now be made available for our transitional shelter sites,” Kristoffer James Purisima, Civil Defense deputy administrator for administration, said in a press conference.

The government initially announced that 11-hectare land at the village of Sagonsongan in Marawi City would serve as temporary resettlement of at least 1,200 families affected by the armed conflict.

The construction of the transitional shelters is part of the Task Force Bangon Marawi’s recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of strife-torn city.

On May 23, Islamic State-affiliated Maute terrorist group laid siege to Marawi City, a home to 200,000 individuals.

The government troops are currently engaged in a battle with Maute rebels in an attempt to retake Marawi City.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said clearing operations in Marawi City are "progressing" although it seemed to be "slower" in the past few days because of several challenges confronting the state forces.

"The continued use of hostages as human shields and the employment of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in all areas the rebels have vacated will continue to slow down our advance but will not be a critical factor against offensive operations that will remain relentless," Abella said.

"Clearing operations are progressing albeit slower these last few days because of the remaining complexities in the very significant developments that will greatly expedite. The defeat of the rebels still holed up inside the remaining portions of the city's business district," he added.

Padilla said the National Housing Authority (NHA) had already approved a modular housing model to accommodate displaced Marawi residents while the fight between the government forces and Maute fighters is ongoing.

He said the government would make sure that the materials to be used for the construction of temporary houses are “above standard.”

Padilla said that the establishment of transitional shelters would likely begin by first week of September since the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is expected to finish the site development within the said timeframe.

“Site development of the transitional housing site in Sagonsongan village is ongoing,” Purisima said.

“Four hectares will have been developed by the DPWH by September 8 or 9 for the eventual handover to NHA for the construction of transitional shelters,” he added.

Padilla said the Local Water Utilities Administration was considering tapping the Agus River for the water supply in the transitional shelter sites.

He said the government is yet to identify as to when the transitional shelters can be occupied.

“Assessments are ongoing and the proposal is expected before the site is ready for occupancy,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)