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Marawi rehabilitation: A local need

by Francis N. Tolentino

Now that the war in Marawi has finally ended, the greater challenge, both on the national and local levels, is the challenge of rehabilitation – not merely in terms of physical and economic structures, but more so, on repairing the war-torn lives of the people.

True enough, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s decision to assign a single person to take the lead in the rehabilitation of Marawi is a wise one. While it is also true that rehabilitation programs entail the cooperation and coordination among many different agencies of the government, having a lead person to orchestrate all actions reduces the risk of confusion and finger-pointing when something goes wrong.

I am convinced that this arduous task of rehabilitating lives and communities can be done by no one but Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman Eduardo del Rosario.

Chairman Eduardo del Rosario was a former Major General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He served for nearly 37 years in active service in the military before his retirement on November 22, 2012. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in February 1980. He was once commander of the 2nd Infantry Division and the former head of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

HUDCC Chairman Del Rosario also served as National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Chief and Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense. Chairman Del Rosario also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Philippine Christian University. With such adequate experience in dealing with crises situations, Chairman Del Rosario, I believe, can truly steer the wheel for Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation.

As Marawi begins to rise from the rubbles of war and as many local and foreign entities pledge help and support for the victims, I would like to humbly propose to General Del Rosario to consider the following points on local planning as they lay-out the blue print for Marawi’s rehabilitation:

  1. Bottom-up – The capacity of a locality should prevail to design rehabilitation as the first process to enhance local independence and support for local actors, as well as to show local needs and it needs a bottom-up process that will enhance local autonomy.
  2. Local strategy – A strategy that focuses on local rehabilitation and reconstruction can be made effective if the resources are proportioned scaled to local needs and capacities.
  3. Calibrated Implementation – Hasty rehabilitation is complex and moving too quickly has often led to poorly-designed and implemented programs. Hasty decisions can lead to even bigger mistakes, just like what happened to Tacloban after the onslaught of typhoon “Yolanda.”

This country has gone through far greater tragedies in the past and yet we stood firm and remained strong as a people. With God’s grace and the unity of the whole nation, Marawi’s rainbow after the storm shines brightly, just around the bend.