Housing czar Eduardo del Rosario on Wednesday said he is unfazed by calls for his resignation and that he will give up the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) helm only if President Rodrigo Duterte orders him to vacate the position.
Reacting to allegations of some Maranao professionals for his alleged failure to reconstruct the war-torn city on time, del Rosario told the Philippine News Agency that he is not bothered by the call for his resignation as the TFBM chairman, noting the task force has accomplished so much.
“I know pretty well what are the accomplishments of the Task Force Bangon Marawi and its member agencies. I’m seeing the progress of what we are doing, (so) I am confident with that,” he said, adding that the TFBM has the full trust and confidence of President Duterte to continue the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
“For me, as a former member of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), there is no such thing as resignation. Our stay in any undertaking, whether it will be civilian or military government, is based on the trust and confidence of the president, or the appointing authority,” he added.
The call for his resignation, he said, is just part of political peddlers’ propaganda and to destroy the government in general, noting that he will “just work on his mandate to rehabilitate Marawi City”.
On March 20, 2019, a Maranao civil society group leader Drieza Abaton Lininding called for del Rosario to resign during the TFBM public consultation and forum in Marawi City.
He dared the TFBM head, a retired military general, to vacate his position once he fails in his commitment to facilitate the return of evacuees to Marawi City’s Most Affected Area (MMA) – severely affected by the five-month 2017 Marawi siege — by July of 2019.
Del Rosario challenged Lininding to resign as CSO leader if the TFBM could start sending evacuees back home to MAA by July.
He said the debris management at the MAA is the most important project undertaken by the task force, citing the clearing of unexploded ordnances and other explosives and the demolition of the damaged infrastructures, houses, and buildings.
The transfer of the remaining displaced families who stayed at the evacuation centers to transitory houses continued in July 2019.
In early January 2020, the call was revived when the Dr. Dimapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos Jr., spokesman of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), expressed his disappointment on del Rosario, asking him anew to step down as TFBM head.
News reports said Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Lanao Sur chapter, the provincial government, and the 80-member parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) requested for an independent probe on the management of huge funds allocated by the national government for the Marawi rehabilitation projects.
Del Rosario said all TFBM funds are distributed to each task force member agencies which are implementing projects and programs accordingly and answering the plight of the thousands of evacuees affected by the siege.
“TFBM member agencies involved in the rehabilitation are also conducting bidding process for their projects, to ensure the budgets are being used properly,” he said. “If President Duterte will say ‘Del Rosario, you have to leave!’, then I’ll go. Because I serve at the pleasure of the president and I don’t serve at the pleasure of those with ill motive and best at interest in the workings of government in Marawi City.”
Meanwhile, del Rosario said the vertical construction will now start as the clearing operations and debris management have been completed.
“We already had the groundbreaking in December 2019. This first quarter of 2020, the mobilization and the actual construction of vertical projects will commence,” he said.
Private individuals, he said, can now renovate and reconstruct their houses inside the MAA provided that they have the complete documents of owning the land property and a building permit from the local government (LGU) of Marawi.
Del Rosario, who is also Secretary of the newly created Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, assured the public that the task force is still on track in pursuing its target to complete the rehabilitation of the war-torn city’s MAA by December 2021.
“There are some challenges but everything is surmountable. That’s why we are moving forward and I can say that we are on the right track based on our timeline. (So) we will be completing the rehabilitation by December of 2021,” he said.
The TFBM was created under the administrative order No. 3 issued by President Duterte on June 28, 2017, to ensure collaboration and convergence among national agencies and the local government units. TFBM facilitates the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Marawi.
It also helps displaced families recover from the tragedy brought by the Marawi siege in May 2017. (PNA)