MANILA - The government will finally push through with groundbreaking rites on Oct. 17 to signal the start of the rehabilitation of ground zero in war-torn Marawi City.
The date marks the first year since President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city’s liberation. Combat operations ended on Oct. 23.
Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson Eduardo Del Rosario said the groundbreaking will begin with debris clearing at a 6-hectare area “most affected” by the 5-month conflict.
Worth P75 million, the debris clearing operations will be carried out by a local firm.
“After debris clearing, we will undertake road network construction with underground facilities. Once it is done, we will proceed with vertical structures, construct 320 classrooms, 24 barangay centers, a convention center, grand central market, school for living tradition, parking area, and so forth,” Del Rosario said in a Palace press briefing.
The government had initially set in June the groundbreaking for Marawi’s rehabilitation, pegged at a total cost of about P16 billion, but problems in the procurement process forced the government to postpone it several times.
Del Rosario also allayed fears that the city's ground zero is not yet ready for rehabilitation due to the presence of unexploded ordnance left after the siege.
He said the military has already cleared the area of about 80 percent of unexploded ordnance while the local firm tasked to carry out debris clearing also has the capability to detect bombs still in the area.
Del Rosario said the government targets to complete rehabilitation of ground zero by the fourth quarter of 2021, months before the President steps down from office.
At least 1,100 people, mostly terrorists, were killed in the 5-month siege that erupted between state forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists in May 2017.
The firefights left much of the once bustling urban and cultural center in ruins.
The terrorists were aiming to establish an ISIS stronghold in Mindanao, supposed to then serve as the center of a caliphate. The government and security experts believe that the threat ISIS poses in the region remains, complicating efforts to bring the city back to normal.