Lawmaker urges Marawi execs to speed up drafting of own rehab plan

MARAWI CITY- Negros Occidental Rep. Alberto Benitez, House commmittee on housing and urban development chair, on Thursday, December 7, urged the local officials of Marawi to expedite the drafting of their own rehabilitation plan for the war-torn city.

This, after city technical consultant Serad Danigi appealed to Benitez for more time to submit the master plan on the rehabilitation of Marawi. The plan is to be submitted to Benitez's committee for approval.

Danigi said they could not decide yet on the site for the permanent houses that will be built for the Maranaos, as the military has yet to clear the prospective areas.

Benitez said the plan should be finalized as soon as possible so that the National Housing Authority (NHA) will be able to begin building the Maranaos' permanent shelters.

The lawmaker discussed this with Danigi before he inspected the construction of the transitory shelters for the victims of the Marawi siege in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi on Thursday.

The temporary shelters will house the displaced individuals for a minimum of two years or until the turnover of the permanent houses to the beneficiaries.

According to NHA Region 9 and ARMM director Alfonso Borlagdan, a total of 1,170 houses will be erected in Sagonsongan.

These will accomodate a number of families from the more than 300,000 currently displaced individuals who are now living in evacuation centers.

The NHA is planning to turn over at least 6,400 temporary units next year, and some 2,300 permanent houses in the coming years.

On December 23, two days before Chirstmas, the first 500 houses will be turned over to the citizens of Marawi.

'Free houses'

According to NHA, the Maranaos will avail of these transitory houses for free.

Benitez, who donated 150 solar kits to the future occupants of the units suggested to the NHA to use solar panels for water pumps and electricity, so as not to burden the citizens of Marawi.

According to Danigi, aside from the 22-square-meter houses, they have also prioritized the construction of a school and a mosque within the 13-hectare barangay.

The house costs P160,000 each, according to Borlagdan.

Speaking before those in charge of Marawi's development, Benitez said the city has a good chance of rectifying the past mistakes of the country in terms of development.

"Marawi has a good chance to rectify yung mga mistakes on development," he said.

Benitez further told the officials: "gawin natin tong tama (Let's do this right). Let Marawi be a model city of the whole country."

He appealed to the officials to prioritize the creation of the master plan, so that Marawi will not be like the problematic Manila, which is plagued by traffic congestion problems.

"I advise yung local government na bago tayo magsimula ng rehabilitation siguraduhin muna natin na meron tayong master plan," he said in an interview after the occular visit.

"Let us make a model city after Marawi. Wag lang natin pabayaan na basta magtayo lang ng kahit ano tapos pagdating ng panahon makikita natin e mali-mali," he added.

Benitez previously led a House probe that revealed the massive fraud in the Yolanda housing project. Following the inquiry it was found that the materials used in the housing units built in Samar and Biliran were substandard.

The once progressive city of Marawi was devastated after five months of fighting between the government troops and Maute terrorists, who laid siege to the city on May 23 after a government raid to arrest terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon failed.

Authorities declared an end to the battle in Marawi on October 23, shortly after Hapilon and Maute leader Omar Maute were killed by government troops. (SunStar Philippines)

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