LAST March 30, hundreds of Meranaw residents held a peace rally at the Ground Zero in Marawi City to repeat the calls for them to go back to their homes, regardless if it's still in shambles. But more than, they have been calling for the government to let their voices be heard and become part of rebuilding their city.
Some even rejected the idea that "outsiders" will decide on their behalf, or what is "good" for them, more so on plans to convert the city into an economic zone, especially based on a proposal made by a Philippine-China consortium.
For those who are in the "outside," such rejection might seen as arrogant or not thinking of the good possibilities. This is the problem ever since, actually, most in our government (and some non-government), they forgot one important aspect in addressing the Marawi conflict and its rehabilitation plans: Meranaw culture.
This is not like Tacloban or Cagayan de Oro and Iligan that were stricken in Sendong or Yolanda that the government and foreign interventions can decide of what to do next for the people. This is the Meranaw, perhaps one of the few ethnolinguistic groups who still values traditions and pride for its culture, more than consultations with them, it is about them deciding for their own, especially it is the heart of their homeland - Marawi City.
Of course, there will be factions among their group as agenda and intentions vary to some extent, but it is something that only them can manage as well.
It is not that they don't want government and foreign aid, it is about how outside entities work beside them, and not over them. Of course, with a status quo that is fair and within the ambits of the laws, and yet without disregarding cultural sensitivities.
Balance. Dialogue. Cooperation. Understanding. Literacy. These are the major keys that may propel a progress for the future in Marawi. But how can it be attainable if some of the residents are still living in tents and temporary shelters?
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in its region 10 office here, is going to put up the Public-Private Partnership Knowledge Corner to keep track with the status of PPP projects not only in the region but for the rest of the country.
The Knowledge Corner is expected to be put up inside the regional office in Echem corner Capistrano Streets.
PPP can be broadly defined as a contractual agreement between the Government and a private firm targeted towards financing, designing, implementing and operating infrastructure facilities and services that were traditionally provided by the public sector.
There are already many PPP projects being launched and maintained as of now and it is about time that the public should have a better understanding towards it.
The challenge here now is, as usual, how are you going to explain these projects in layman's terms and emphasize its benefits to the masses.