250 internally displaced families in Marawi rebuild lives as they receive permanent house and lot

Dito kami magsisimulang muli, sama-sama.” (This is where we will rebuild our lives, together).

This is how Norjannah Amerol, 46 described the permanent house and lot she was awarded on October 15, 2021. To her, the new home is an opportunity to rebuild part of what was lost – not only their houses but their community as well, in the 5-month Marawi Siege four years ago.

She recalled how she feared for the lives of her two sons who chose to stay behind to take care of the family’s belongings thinking that the gunfight will last for only two to three days and that the whole family can re-group after. One of her sons was hit on the leg by a bullet as he and his brother made their way to the boat by the lake that will bring them to safety.

She remarked, “Ang bahay na ito ay isang biyaya, isang simbolo na kung ang isang tao ay matiyagang maghintay ay bibiyayayan ni Allah. Apat na taon! Kahit na ano mang hirap ang naranasan namin, ang lahat ng yun ay naibsan sa pamamagitan ng bahay na ito – hindi ko hahayaang magkahiwa-hiwalay pa kami ng mga anak ko – ang takot bilang isang ina, ayaw ko na muling maranasan ang ganun.”  (This house is a blessing, a symbol that if a person patiently waits Allah will provide His blessings. Four years! Whatever hardships my family went through, those assuaged by this house – I will not let my children be separated from me again – that kind of fear as a mother is something that I do not want to experience again. This is where we will rebuild our lives, together.)

Amerol is among the two hundred fifty families displaced by the 2017 Marawi Siege who were awarded with permanent house and lot  from the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Rebuilding Marawi Project of the UN-Habitat during the turnover ceremonies in Pamayandeg Ranao Residences at Dansalan in Barangay Mipantao-Gadongan in the Islamic City of Marawi. The event was attended by Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Engr. Marcelino P. Escalada Jr., General Manager, NHA, Governor Mamintal Alonto-Adiong, Jr. of the Province of Lanao del Sur, Mayor Majul U. Gandamra of Marawi City, Project Manager Warren C. Ubongen of UN-Habitat and Acting Regional Manager Engr. Clemente Dayot of NHA.

Of the 250 permanent houses, 150 were built by UN-Habitat’s Rebuilding Marawi through Community-Driven Shelter and Livelihood Project with a USD 10-million funding from the Government of Japan while 100 houses were built by the NHA. The wide expanse of Pamayandeg Ranaw Residences at Dansalan is located in Barangays Kilala and Mipantao-Gadongan. The land was procured and developed by NHA. A total of 1,800 permanent houses are expected to be built at this site with 1, 500 units to be constructed by NHA  while 300 units by UN-Habitat.

The houses were also officially turned over by Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his visit to Marawi on October 16, 2021, when he personally led the fourth year commemoration of the end of the Marawi siege.

Commemoration of the end of the Marawi siege attended by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, with message delivered by Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko of Japan. Photo by Task Force Bangon Marawi.

Pre-siege, the 250 families lived within the three to six meters easement along the Agus River and Lake Lanao – areas officially categorized by the government as ‘no dwell zone’ and and others that were affected by the development projects within the post-war Ground Zero/Most Affected Area (MAA). With their houses destroyed by the gun battle between the government forces and pro-Isis militants, life for the 250 families in the past four years since the war ended was spent in tents, transitory shelters, in home-based arrangement (living with relatives or with friends or renting) within Marawi or in nearby provinces while others went as far as Manila to eke out a living as the war destroyed not only their homes but devastated their businesses as well.

In a message from Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of the Philippines, read during the event:

“…We have been steadily making progress despite the significant challenges posed by this COVID-19 pandemic. This year, a total of 329 houses have been turned over so far in Barangay Dulay West, Darussalam Village, Pamayandeg sa Ranaw Residence, and Barangay Kilala. We, the Embassy of Japan, genuinely hope that, before the end of the year, we will be able to provide more families with safe places that they can once again call “home.”… Our work in Marawi is not yet finished. We will continue to strive to build more houses for displaced families. We sincerely hope that through this Project and other J-BIRD projects, together with Japan’s steadfast support for the Mindanao Peace Process, Mindanao will gain lasting peace and stability for the benefit of everyone.”

UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager, Christopher Rollo, said,

“The 250 families receiving the houses and lots today join the other 279 families previously awarded with permanent house and lot in three other resettlement sites. We are inspired to work with our government partners and home owners associations in rebuilding lives and communities as we mark the fourth year since the end of the Marawi siege.”

For his part, Engr. Dayot remarked,

“It has been four years since the liberation of the Islamic City of Marawi from the terrorist group. The National Housing Authority, through the leadership of our General Manager, Marcelino P. Escalada, Jr., and the guidance of no less than His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, will be turning over permanent housing units to qualified beneficiaries. This long awaited turnover is now becoming a reality and we hope that this small gesture will lift the standard of living, and be the start of a brighter future for all recipients, in particular, and the Islamic City of Marawi, in general.”

The turn-over of 150 permanent houses constructed by UN-Habitat brings to a total of  429 houses provided to displaced families. These families are now living in their new communities:  Marawi Resettlement Site (MRS Phase 1) Phase 1: Hadiya Village, Brgy. Dulay West, with 109 permanent houses inaugurated in February 25, 2021 and 120 in MRS Phase II:  Darussalam Village, Brgy. Dulay Proper inaugurated in July 22, 2021, both on land procured and developed by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). Fifty permanent houses were also turned over to 50 displaced families last July 22, 2021 in Pamayandeg Ranao Residences at Dansalan in Brgy. Mipantao-Gadongan, in partnership with NHA.  Currently, 100 more houses are being constructed by UN-Habitat in the Barangay Kilala side of this resettlement site. Another resettlement site with ongoing shelter construction by UN-Habitat is the MRS Phase III (SHFC) in Barangay Patani where 372 houses are targeted to be built.   A total of 910 permanent houses by UN-Habitat are slated to be completed by December 2021 in these five resettlement sites.

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