Thursday, January 28, 2021

Task Force, NHA heads face raps


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MARAWI CITY: Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) head Eduardo del Rosario and National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. are facing graft charges over the delayed rehabilitation projects for the Marawi siege victims.

Datu Meno Manabilang, chairman of Sowara O Miyamagoyag or the Voice of Marawi Evacuees, who claims to represent some 200,000 victims, filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday against the two officials.

He said the Ombudsman should investigate anomalies in the bidding and procurement of supplies, which have delayed rehabilitation works.

Manabilang told The Manila Times that it was obvious the TFBM and housing officials were deliberately delaying the rehabilitation process.

“The NHA general manager sanctioned these irregularities that adversely impacts the rehabilitation,” the complaint reads.

“As a result, we are forced to stay longer in temporary shelters, leaving our families and communities to suffer the hardship of rebuilding lives in barely humane and dangerous conditions,” Manabilang said.

He said the CJI General Services Inc. officers and board members Jimmy Francis Hinch, Barry Jim Hinch, Julius Joseph Beredo, Noel Mendoza, Harry Cuevas and Edgardo Sagum — president of Eddmari Construction and Trading, which was contracted for the rehabilitation works — should be included in the graft charges.

Earlier, an official of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) revealed irregularities behind the delays in the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City.

On his Facebook post on Sunday, Dimapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos Jr., NCMF Bureau of External Affairs director and spokesman, described the issue as a “big scandal that will be exposed this week,” citing as an example the “many anomalies involving the clearing of debris amounting to P2.2 billion.”

He did not mention who would make the disclosure, but said the magnitude of the issue might even lead to the abolition or replacement of the TFMB.

Displaced residents, public officials and other stakeholders marked last May 23 the second anniversary of the Marawi siege that left the city in ruins and displaced over 200,000 people.

Survivors and relatives of missing people converged at the Maqbara public cemetery in Barangay Papandayan, and unveiled the markers in the spots where 282 unidentified cadavers were retrieved and buried during and after the siege.

In a separate ceremony, Mayor Majul Gandamra, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., del Rosario and other public officials converged at the city hall grounds and issued pronouncements to appease the disenchantment among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some quarters.

Survivors also demanded updates on state-promised DNA tests to determine if their missing relatives were among those buried.

In a statement on the anniversary, the International Committee of the Red Cross  said the “deep scars left by the 2017 conflict in Marawi City continue to haunt over 100,000 people who still do not have a home to return to.”

The Moro Consensus Group and the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of Bangsamoro), to which some prominent IDPs belong, also expressed suspicion about the real reasons behind the delay in the clearing of debris at the 24-village Ground Zero.

They cited the “lack of transparency” in the handling of the P98.5-million cash assistance for IDPs donated by different groups and individuals, including Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, former senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, former Taguig mayor Maria Laarni Cayetano, actors Robin Padilla and Piolo Pascual, and over 20 other local donors, who reportedly chipped in an average of P1 to P5 million each as of August 2017.

The donations were reportedly over and above the P1.1-billion relief fund coursed by the national government to the Region 12 office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.



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