MANILA - Several standing homes in the most affected area of Marawi were demolished without consent of the residents even after the siege of Islamic State-inspired militants, a lawmaker who visited the war-ravaged city said Wednesday.
Speaking before a joint session of Congress, AMIN party-list Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. said he recently spoke to homeless Maranaos, who begged to be heard by the government.
"We faced some of those residents whose houses were demolished without their consent. I stand before you to claim what happened," he said in a joint session on the requested martial law extension.
Housing Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, who heads Task Force Bangon Marawi, admitted some houses were destroyed without the consent of the owners because of a misunderstanding.
"They've started clearing the destroyed structures with consents. But along the way, there were some misunderstanding. Some facilities without consent were included," he said.
Del Rosario said the task force will soon come up with a "written procedure" that will be explained to barangay officials and residents to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
The 250-hectare most affected area in Marawi is comprised of 24 villages in the heart of the city, which was once the center of trade among the Maranaos. Residential structures, commercial buildings, and even some mosques in these areas were reduced to ruins in 5 months of heavy firefights and bombardment in 2017.
Islamic State-inspired militants took siege of the lakeside city in May 2017, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao and deploy troops to the area.
The siege left at least 1,131 people killed, including terrorists, soldiers and civilians. The war also displaced at least 350 people in Marawi and nearby areas during its peak.
Del Rosario said a total of 812 families continue to stay in different evacuation centers in and outside Marawi, while more temporary shelters are being built.
"Residents of Marawi will start and will be allowed to construct their residences and commercial buildings by July of 2020 when the debris and horizontal development of the most affected area are already completed," he said.