The havoc wreaked by the Marawi war has stirred discussion on the methodology and ways of rebuilding and rehabilitating the city. Solicited and unsolicited suggestions, from the ludicrous to the meritorious, have been talked about with this writer.
A highly futuristic design on how Marawi should look after reconstruction, which one finds only in sci-fi movies, went viral on social media. Another proposal was to preserve the ruins similar to the peace memorials of the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to show window the atrocities of Islamic extremism.
Amidst all these ideas, government created Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) with the mandate to reconstruct and rehabilitate the city. Initially, the victims were told that government will prepare the design of structures as the template to be implemented uniformly. This proposal, however, was met with vehement objection from the victims, who insisted that they have a say in the rebuilding of their houses.
Last week, I received a call from a senior fraternity brod, Atty. Alfonso Boy Reyno, volunteering his personal take on the issue. He proposed that instead of the government singularly undertaking the whole process of rehab, it should involve the victims with assistance or subsidy from government.
Under this scheme, loans are extended on terms that are substantially more generous than prevailing market loans through interest rates lower than those on the market, if not zero, in an extended repayment or grace period. The land and properties of the applicant-victim can be used as collaterals.
What stoked my interest was the fact that Reyno claimed to have discussed the idea with Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez in a chance meeting at a hotel in Makati sometime in October, and the latter was receptive.
Knowing Secretary Sonny, I am sure he will support the idea given that he is a Mindanaoan who has a heart for the Muslims (one of the precious possessions I lost in the Marawi siege was a book about Prophet Mohamad, PBUH and Islam gifted to me by Secretary Sonny years back). Government banks can prepare a special loan package for this purpose. How this scheme will work should be left to those in the know.
Reyno’s suggestion deserves serious consideration by the TFBM. His bona fides as a successful business titan qualifies him to advance an opinion enriched with gems of sense, wisdom and profound merit.
But this is not a serendipitous idea. Sen. Win Gatchalian, during a Senate Sub-Committee hearing on the rehab of Marawi chaired by Sen. “JV” Ejercito, discussed and proposed a similar proposal. I have written about this in an earlier article, but it is worth repeating.
I find the proposal sensible and meritorious. This will address the victims’ protest of being shut off from the process of reconstruction.
I did not tell Boy Reyno that the downside to his suggestion is the mindset and deep-seated culture of some Maranaws that whatever comes from government is a doleout, claiming the State is just rectifying the injustices committed to them in the past. They still have to be educated on the duty of citizens like payment of taxes. Their repayment record for bank loans is almost zilch. Why? Because nobody among them went to jail for nonpayment and banks cannot touch their foreclosed land used as collateral.
The draft bills granting compensation to Marawi victims filed in both Houses of Congress hit the nail on the head and victims are profusely thanking the sponsors. To protect them from false hope, the congressional assistance should be complemented with other schemes like the concessional loan.
Given other priorities that are already blueprinted by our legislators, which relegated the Marawi disaster to the back burner, and the snail-paced legislative mill, their enactment is dim. And even if passed after some years, the financial assistance will not be enough.
The TFBM should kindly include this idea in its agenda.