MANILA - The government is planning to develop 'ground zero' of the Marawi siege from scratch as it aims to bring back the glory of the once bustling Islamic city.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the battle zone covering 24 barangays in Marawi, which had seen the fiercest battles between Islamic State-inspired terrorists and state troops, will be “flattened” to pave way for new infrastructure.
“The plan is we will flatten all buildings in the most affected areas and we will build new structures, from two-lane highways to four-lane highways,” Roque said in a news conference in Marawi City.
“We will have underground electric cables instead of the usual posts and we will make a promenade in Agus River, which will become a prime tourist attraction.”
The Marawi siege ended last October 23 following 5 months of fierce battles between the Maute terrorist groups and state forces. It left some 1,100 dead, mostly terrorists, and displaced over 350,000 residents from the city and nearby towns.
Roque said the government is set to build an initial 6,300 temporary housing units and 2,700 permanent shelters within the city.
According to Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, head of Task Force Bangon Marawi, the government aims to build 1,170 temporary shelters before the first quarter of 2018 ends, 500 of which shall be turned over to the first set of internally displaced persons in December.
Del Rosario said some of the parcels of land on ground zero may become smaller due to the construction of wider roads and other infrastructure, but he assured land owners that the development of the area would multiply the value of their properties.
Del Rosario said if groundwork begins on the second quarter of 2018, it may take 4 years for ground zero to become fully developed.
He said monetary assistance will also be provided to land owners in the area so they could build their own homes.
The HUDCC chief also suggested to land claimants who have no titles to just avail themselves of the permanent shelter in other areas being offered by the government to avoid complications.
Roque, however, said efforts are being done to distribute more land to Marawi residents. He said President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to study how much land within its military reservation in the city it actually needs.
“Iyung ibang lupang ‘di na kailangan ng militar ay matititulohan. Iyung may mga claim of possession - ang sabi nga nila ‘possession is almost 100 percent title’ - huwag kayong mag-alala dahil kapag 'yung area niyo na na-identify ng militar na hindi na kailangan for reservation, puwede kayong mag-apply para sa titulo,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Del Rosario said the government continues to conduct post-conflict needs assessment in the city, which shall determine the actual amount needed to rehabilitate Marawi.
He said an initial estimate would be announced in January 2018 while the final amount would be made public in March 2018.
The government had earlier pegged the amount needed to rehabilitate Marawi at P50 billion.
Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra said some 40,000 individuals have been able to return to their homes in 17 less-affected barangays in Marawi City.