By Ali G. Macabalang
The Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) for the peace process shaping the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomous region has virtually prescribed for reforms in the government mechanisms concerning the much-delayed rehabilitation of the war-torn Marawi City.
The TPMT, formed in 2013 with Heino Marius as chairperson and Karen Tañada, Hüseyin Oruc, Dr. Rahib L. Kudto, and Sam Chittick as members, released last month its sixth public report covering March 2019 to October 2020 amid debates over a call for longer lifespan in the Bangsamoro transitional governance.
Hinting insufficient transition period, the TPMT report averred that “more work is still needed” to fully implement the provisions of R.A. 11054 (charter of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and those under the Philippine government-MILF major peace deals – the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro of 2014 and the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro of 2013.
The release of the report came almost simultaneously with published announcements that President Duterte agreed with the proposed transition extension and at least three bills had just been filed in the House of Representatives to postpone the 2022 election for regular members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
The 80-seat BTA, serving as the interim governing body of the new autonomous region, is presently composed of members appointed by President Duterte for a term ending in 2022.
The TPMT report has directly or indirectly boosted the call for longer BTA lifespan, on one hand, and corroborated public notion about inefficient operations by the Task Force Bangong Marawi (TFBM ) in rehabilitating Marawi City and its displaced thousands of residents.
In its report, the TPMT expressed concern with the “frustration and a lack of information among constituents” on the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
It averred that the TFBM was “becoming more of a stumbling block rather than a facilitator of transformation in the city,” noting that rehabilitation plans were prepared without the participation of affected residents.
The TPMT added that stakeholders were concerned about the announcement of a new AFP base in Marawi that was reportedly decided upon without consulting the Bangsamoro Government.
“For three years, a large portion of the citizens of Marawi have been removed from their homes and their history. Despite many promises, the rehabilitation of the city and return of citizens to the most-affected area has no clear end date,” it said.
In recent months, concerned non-government organizations have called for TFBM abolition and its replacement by another state-sponsored body that can efficiently and effectively carryout rehabilitation works for Marawi City and its displaced residents, some 10,000 of whom have reportedly been scattered across the country in desperate plights.
The TFBM is composed for most of the government line agencies and chaired by retired military General Eduardo del Rosario in his capacity as head of the National Housing and Urban Development Council.
Del Rosario has retained the TFBM chairmanship after President Duterte named him secretary of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development, an infant agency.
After some hearings interrupted by complaints about lapses in Marawi rehabilitation efforts, the powerful Commission on Appointments confirmed Del Rosario’s appointment. AGM