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Thursday, May 23, 2024

China Consortium and Philippines: Cooperation in the aftermath of Terrorism

Jumel Gabilan Estrañero|

While there is this latest news regarding the $9.5B in Chinese investment deals with the Philippines in the last Boao Forum in China, I want to stress out the recent consortium of Chinese and Filipino companies which have been chosen by the government as the potential developer to lead the rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City.

Eduardo del Rosario, TFBM chair, said the task force would hold negotiations with the Bangon Marawi Consortium (BMC), composed of five Chinese and four Filipino firms, to determine the terms of reference, hammer out the details of the reconstruction program and set the final project cost.

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Most of Marawi City was reduced to rubble by five months of fighting between government forces and Islamic State-allied militants who laid siege to the city on May 23 last year. More than 200,000 people were displaced by the conflict, forcing them to stay in evacuation centers in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

NOTABLY, Del Rosario identified the Chinese firms in the consortium as China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd., Anhui Huali Construction Group Co., China Geo-Engineering Corp., TBEA Co. and Shandong Jinyuan Homes Industry Development Co. Ltd. These are joined by Filipino companies Future Homes Philippines Inc., A Brown Company Inc., H.S. Pow Construction and Development, and SDW Realty & Development Inc. BMC proposed to undertake the reconstruction at a cost of P17.1 billion, but Del Rosario said this could still go up depending on the final details of the rehabilitation project.

The default assumption is that the Maranaos want to and can rebuild their own homes /own communities, with or without government help. They just want access to their previous homes in ground zero so they can rebuild according to their own culture and aspirations.

“This is the fastest way for them to rebuild their homes and it prevents corruption from happening. On the other hand, to fully enjoin the Maranaos in the rehabilitation phase is also at stake. The vulnerability of the victims will be more likely to have an exploitation of mass deception that the government is curtailing their rights as owner of their own lands and alike.”

We recall that the war in Marawi, which ended in October last year, prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire island of Mindanao under martial law. The proclamation has been extended to the end of this year. The usual demand of the people has always been cynical; adamant to the government’s effort to rebuild the displaced city of Marawi coupled with the Martial law (ML). Previously, Marawi was almost a lawless city. No registrations of vehicles along the city. If you’ve been involved in a car accident there and you are not from the city, then it is your fault and you have to pay, regardless if you are innocent. Furthermore, people owned guns, and the LGU tolerated this. If the people in Marawi reported the building up logistics and armaments of the terrorists, then it would have been thwarted. This is not to blame the people of Marawi but this is to at least warn them that the result of the ramification of Marawi is also the aftermath of their ignorance since time immemorial.

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Having said this, Maria Kristina D. Siuagan (Defense Analyst/Researcher) spewed that the rehabilitation is two-pronged approach of political will to fully implement the vision of recuperation. She wants to convey that Marawi must experience a reboot, wherein citizens must all be involved in activities of city building with the help of the FUNDS generated from donations and from the government itself. And the law must prevail, no citizens should be allowed to just own whatever guns they can get, but legally owned guns only. Lastly, we sense the efforts to impede, disrupt, and undo the positive and significant milestones characterized by TFBM’s accomplishments and the AFP and DND in general.

I support the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM). I see that as soon as the last shot is fired, the rehabilitation phase will start immediately. With the help of consortium among stakeholders (external and internal) and the availability of engineering equipment are there, including (those of) the Department of Public Works and Highways, the ploy to rehabilitate Marawi will be successful with the help of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of National Defense. We just need to wait for the negotiation between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Bangon Marawi Consortium (BMC) to have a good result. Also, we just need the cooperation of the residents in the displaced city for their security and faster recovery.

The writer is a defence and security analyst based in the Philippines. He has co-authored many books including the Handbook of Terrorism 2019 (Philippines). His works have appeared in Eurasia Review, Global Security Review and Geopolitical Monitor.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.