Updates on Marawi rehab program urged

DEPUTY Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman has enjoined Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to be vigilant against the expiration of any funds intended for the Marawi rehabilitation that has dragged on for almost three years after government forces liberated the city from extremists in 2017.

To increase transparency, the Basilan lawmaker also asked TFBM to post regular “real-time” updates on the status of the Marawi rehabilitation program, including the state of its finances, in its websites and social media accounts for the benefit of the people of Marawi and the rest of the country.

“For purposes of transparency, yung lahat sana ng activities (ng TFBM), financial reports, pati na accomplishments both physical and financial, sana mailagay at mai-post nila doon sa website ng Task Force Bangon Marawi,” he said during Tuesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Disaster Resilience on the Marawi compensation bills.

In the course of the hearing, the TFBM through the Office of Civil Defense updated the panel members on the status of the utilization of funds for Marawi.

“Ang worry ko lang ay baka matulad tayo sa nangyari sa pondo ng Marawi nung 2018, kung saan may P406 million na pondo na nag-expire at bumalik sa Treasury nang hindi nagagamit para sana sa kapakanan ng mga tao,” sakd Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct ARMM.

“Aside from ensuring that the Marawi funds are spent according to its intended purpose, we should also make sure all of the allocation is used for the benefit of the people of Marawi. Mabagal na nga ang usad ng rehabilitation, hindi pa magagamit ang nakalaan na pondo, patong-patong na ang hirap ng mga tao sa Marawi,” he added.

OCD Director Edgar Posadas said that from 2017 up to 2020, P20.8 billion had been allocated for the Marawi rehabilitation and, as of August of this year, P19.940 billion has already been released.

He also said that the unreleased balance is at P868.4 million.

Hataman asked questions about the releases from the Marawi rehabilitation fund, saying that data furnished by TFBM to his office indicated that some projects with fund allocations have not even started the procurement process stage.

“May policy naman ang DBM na kapag may allocation na, you can start the procurement process even without a Special Allotment Release Order o SARO. Kaya takang-taka kami kung bakit may nag-expire na 2018 funds para sa Marawi, kasi may ganito namang policy na pwedeng gamitin para masimulan ang kahit na anong proyekto,” the legislator lamented.

“Kaya mahalaga ang transparency sa status ng Marawi rehabilitation, para nabubusisi natin ang mga proseso at makahanap ng paraan para mapadali at mapabilis ang paggalaw ng rehabilitation sa Marawi,” he added.

Hataman then asked TFBM chair Sec. Eduardo Del Rosario if the inter-agency body can post regular and real time updates on the state of the rehabilitation on its website and social media accounts to allow the people to see the progress of the program. Sec. Del Rosario answered in the affirmative.

Also during Tuesday’s hearing, the committee chaired by Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez approved without any objection the substitute bill drafted by a technical working group headed by Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo to address the concerns on the compensation measure.

“I laud and welcome this development. Matagal nang hinihintay ito ng mga taga-Marawi para matulungan silang bumangon at bumalik sa normal ang mga buhay nila. Maganda na malaman din nila na umuusad na ang panukala dito sa Kongreso,” Hataman stated.

“We hope that this harmonized substitute bill will eventually be approved by Congress. We always tout the catchphrase, ‘We Heal as One’ but the truth is there is no healing for the people of Marawi until the rehabilitation is completed and they go back to their homes and lives,” Hataman said.