By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special correspondent .
MARAWI City — Residents of the 24 barangays in the 250-hectare battleground of government forces and the Maute Group in 2017 would be unable to return to their villages to repair or rebuild their homes by the first week of September as promised by government officials.
“Actually, it’s not September, but it’s July. And I said, ‘provided they get clearance’ from the city government,” said Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi, referring to the consultation dialogue with the residents this March.
Del Rosario said the delays are caused by building owners’ reluctance to allow the Army engineers to demolish their structures, unexploded ordnance, and landownership issues.
He said there are 6,800 structures inside the 250-hectare “Ground Zero.”
Del Rosario said that as of July 2019, only 80 percent of the owners or 4,000 have given their consent for authorities to demolish their buildings.
He said a committee from the Marawi local government is still processing 5,400 applications to demolish or construct from residents.
“The committee has to check whether the structures are safe enough to rebuild. If not we have to demolish them,” del Rosario said.
He said owners who still refuse to give permits would have to shoulder the expenses in the demolition of their buildings.
Most of the buildings in Marawi’s 24 barangays in the 250-hectare “Ground Zero” were destroyed after months of fighting in 2017.
Many of the city’s 180,000 residents are living in temporary shelters in barangays Boganga and Sagonsongan, or have lived with their relatives in other cities like Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
They have made numerous appeals to government officials to allow them to return to their houses.
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said the committee is encountering landownership issues aside from checking the structural integrity of the ruined buildings.
“Just a few days ago, two groups of landowners came to our office, and each of them have land titles to back their claims,” Gandamra said.
Gandamra said in cases like this, officials leave it to the courts to decide, and that means a long tedious process.
Other Marawi residents, fed up by the long wait, have taken matters in their own hands.
National Housing Authority Marawi Project Management Office chief Roderick Ibanez said 81 “unregistered” families have occupied temporary shelters in Barangay Boganga.
He said they have referred the matter to the Marawi local government.