MANILA - Incompetence on the part of the officials in charge is hampering the rehabilitation of Marawi, an organization monitoring developments in the war-ravaged city said Wednesday.
Francisco Lara of International Alert Philippines said the failure of the government to strike a deal with two previous contractors show an inadequate policy direction for the rehabilitation process.
"I think there's some policy inconsistency between the promises made at the start of the rehabilitation process and what is actually happening on the ground," he told ANC.
"I think the policy direction is inadequate. When the President said rebuild Marawi, I don't think that gets translated into an actual design process and a time frame," he added.
Task Force Bangon Marawi previously tapped the Bagong Marawi Consortium for the rehabilitation of the city. When talks broke down, the task force tried to forge a deal with firm Power China but also failed.
Lara said giving sole responsibility of reconstruction to a contractor caused the delay. He believes the current setup, which is to distribute this responsibility to different builders, is better.
A painful image of Marawi
A year after the war between state troops and Islamic State-inspired terrorists ended, the town center of Marawi remains buried in heaps of debris and rubble.
This image has been haunting the Maranaos, the inhabitants of the lakeside city, who remain in evacuation centers and temporary shelters outside their hometown, said Lara.
"People are angry because they keep on seeing the debris that has not been removed from the site. That constant sight, that imagery is what is painful for most people in Marawi," he explained.
Cleaning up the debris should have started earlier this year after residents were allowed to salvage whatever they can from their destroyed homes. However, this has been delayed.
Lara said all the people they have talked to remain frustrated and have started to compare the development in Marawi to Boracay, which is already scheduled to reopen after a 6-month cleanup.
"In the beginning of the war, the perception of the people is that the enemies were the violent extremists. Now, with constant delays, people are looking at government as an enemy," he said.
Property disputes, compensation problems
A year since the war ended, claims to land and properties of some residents in Marawi have not been settled despite the mapping process finished by the government, said Lara.
He fears the disputes could lead to bigger conflicts between families and clans in the southern city, which has a poor land titling system.
The issue of compensation, too, for the residents of the war-torn city remains unclear as two compensation bills pending in Congress has not seen progress yet.
Asked if the government can meet its 2021 target in rehabilitating Marawi, Lara was blunt, saying: "It's going to be difficult. I don't think so."
"If they're going to talk about the structures, yes. But if they're going to talk about other issues like settling conflict related to properties, it's going to take much longer than that," he added.