3 PH firms tapped for Marawi debris clearing

MANILA, Philippines – The government has chosen 3 Philippine firms to clear and manage debris in Marawi City’s “most affected area,” an essential step in the war-torn city’s rehabilitation. 

National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr mentioned the names of the firms during a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, January 15, as the following:

The notice of award was issued to these firms on December 28, 2018, said Housing and Urban Development and Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Assistant Secretary Renato Bartolo Jr. 

They are expected to be issued a notice to proceed if they were able to submit all requirements for the notice of award by the deadline, January 14.

But even now, the contractors have begun moving their equipment to Marawi City.

“As of this moment, the contractor has already mobilized in anticipation of the MDP (master development plan). Heavy equipment is already going there as of the moment and it will now be ready for them to start implementing,” Escalada said during the hearing.

The 3 firms are tasked with debris management in sectors 2 to 9 of Marawi City’s most devastated area. The Bangon Marawi Task Force had divided the 250-hectare area into sectors for efficiency and organization. 

Sectors 2 to 9 includes the Sectors 5, 6, and 7 where a majority of the commercial establishments and public buildings are located. 

While progress is being made in these sectors, debris clearing in Sector 1, a small “pilot” area where 411 houses once stood, has stalled.

This was after the NHA suspended the work of contractor FINMAT International Resources, Incorporated (Finmat) when it was found that it demolished “several structures” without obtaining a permit from the Marawi City government.

The NHA is now waiting for Finmat to respond to the show cause order on its suspension. If NHA is not satisfied with the firm’s response, it may decide to cancel the contract and choose a new firm for the job.

Finmat’s contract with the NHA is worth P75 million. It was supposed to complete the work in 6 months, after the rehabilitation groundbreaking last October 30, 2018.

Finmat was also supposedly a partner of PowerChina, a consortium which the task force initially wanted to sign a joint venture agreement with, until the plan was abandoned due to "legal infirmities" in the joint venture agreement mode.

Debris clearing is the costliest of the 10 “first priority” projects under Marawi rehabilitation. In total, or for all sectors, it is expected to cost P2.3 billion or 16.75% of the entire Marawi rehabilitation expenses. Debris clearing will likely take a year, according to the task force.

The NHA is the lead implementing agency while the Department of National Defense, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Marawi City local government will provide support.

Bomb clearing done by August

Along with debris clearing, the government wants to ensure there are no more unexploded bombs hidden in Marawi’s most affected area. 

The task force’s target is for the area to be certified clear of bombs in August this year.

“We need to certify [as cleared of bombs] the 250-hectare property of MAA on or before August 2019,” Escalada said during the subcommittee hearing.

He said he received an email on Monday that a Lidar survey was able to “pinpoint the exact location, as well as nature of the bombs in those areas.” 

The clearing of unexploded ordnance is critical as it will allow construction teams to proceed with their work without fear of an unexpected explosion.

Government workers, such as DENR personnel mapping out properties, have been forced to enter the MAA despite this danger. 

Marawi rehabilitation timeline

The Finmat suspension did not push back the task force’s target of completing the rehabilitation in 3 years or by 2021, said HUDCC chief Eduardo del Rosario.

Debris management, he said, “will be completed by not later than September of this year.”

Asked when residents in the most affected area can return to their homes, he said the process for their return would likely begin next year or in 2020. 

“By the middle of next year, third quarter, they can start applying already [for their return] so that in the remaining one year and a half they will be in tandem with the construction of these structures,” said Del Rosario. 

Marawi residents are still unable to return because of the presence of unexploded bombs in the most affected area and the risk that the structure of their homes might have become weakened, and thus pose a danger. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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