24 May 2018, Marawi City – On the morning of May 24, 2018 at Marawi City Hall, culminating the Week of Peace activities commemorating year one since the Marawi Siege broke out, UN-Habitat signed memoranda of understanding with the Islamic City of Marawi and with national government agency Social Housing Finance Corporation, respectively, formalizing the agency’s partnership with local and national government on the implementation of the Rebuilding Marawi Shelter and Livelihood project.

Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra, in his welcome remarks, called to mind the impact of the siege on Marawi’s citizens and the optimism with which he felt the project could support them in moving forward.

“The Marawi siege happened last year and thousands of us fled our homes, leaving our properties at the mercy of fate,” Mayor Gandamra said. “This year, the general mode is not of grief and regret, but of a stirring desire to pick up the pieces and move forward. I feel that we have every reason to feel optimistic. Because in spite of the siege and the tragedy, we have been at the receiving end of much help, much hope, and much love. And today is another reason to feel hopeful and determined. You are all here today at the invitation of UN-Habitat, the city government, and the Task Force Bangon Marawi to discuss possibilities about UN-Habitat and Marawi’s community building through shelter and livelhihood recovery programme.”

“As we speak, many IDPs [internally displaced people] have already returned to Marawi City…. Some to their old homes in less damaged areas. But those [who live] in the most affected areas are in the temporary shelter areas. There are still those who have yet to come home.”

Gandamra expressed gratitude for the provision of temporary shelters but also stressed the need for permanent shelter and the need for livelihood to alleviate people’s dependency on assistance from both public and private sectors.

“As mayor of Marawi City, it gives me great joy and hope to see my people ready to leave the tragedy behind them and to gather the strength and the motivation to build their lives and their dreams…. We may have lost so much in the siege, but I don’t think we will lose anything if we choose to work together as a team…. I hope for the success of this project and the benefits it will bring in bringing back the people’s belief in themselves.”

The event programme included a brief video presentation of the project and the expected results, with emphasis on the People’s Process as the community-driven approach to be used in implementation. Case studies on how the People’s Process worked in different homeowners’ association for post-Yolanda shelter recovery as well as testimonials from home partners were shown.

In his address, Christopher Rollo, UN-Habitat Philippines Country Programme Manager, elaborated on the key roles of local and national government in the partnership and project.

“Our MOU with SHFC signed today further strengthens our existing partnership in advocating for community-driven shelter and community-building,” Mr. Rollo remarked. “This partnership started in our shelter project for families affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo. And again in our shelter project in Tacloban City, also for families whose houses were destroyed by Yolanda.  This project in Marawi presents a new challenge especially when we consider the complex issues on land and property and the post-conflict situation.  In this area, we rely on the expertise of SHFC.”

“Our MOU with the Islamic City of Marawi acknowledges the key role of the city government in ensuring the recovery and rehabilitation of the city particularly in shelter and livelihood.  The city’s guidance and support as Chair of the Project Steering Committee is critical especially in beneficiary selection and land identification as well as in in the speedy processing of permits and licenses.”

Mr. Rollo also expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for its financial support of the project with a USD 10 million grant.

Attorney Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, SHFC President, elaborated on the participatory approach of the project. “Shelter is already a very big need…and there are different approaches to address this need or problem, led by different shelter agencies, to solve the social problem of homelessness,” Attorney Cabling said. “Our approach is ultimately about mobilizing community. All members of the community have to be involved in the efforts towards shelter provision.”

“The city and the community will participate in the selection [of home partners]. Then we engage you to participate in the planning of [implementation]. How do we envision the community we would like to build for ourselves? From the beginning to the end, you should be involved. We will be doing workshops to consult you on the housing design. You have to know everything, to that everything is transparent. You have to own the process so that you will want to live in the houses that are built.”

“Hindi po ito UN-Habitat effort, hindi po ito SHFC effort, effort po ito nating lahat, (This is not an effort by UN-Habitat, this is not an effort, this is an effort made by all of us) Attorney Cabling added.

Sultan Nasser Sampaco, a representative of leaders of the internally displaced, responded: “More than a 100 years ago our forefathers gathered in this historical place, to commit their lives to a most noble cause to defend Islam and freedom against the would-be colonizers, the Spaniards,” he stated. “While one year ago, our beloved city mayor, with his close relatives and supporters, gathered in this historic place to defend the Philippine flag against the Maute group who intended  to raise the ISIS flag in the city hall for just one day. They [Maute group] saw this as a victory, for them to show the world that they could take control of the city. But they did not succeed.”

“Today we are gathered again in this historic place to witness the signing of the MOU between UN-Habitat, the SHFC…the City of Marawi—which is another milestone in our history.”

Secretary Eduardo D. Del Rosario, Chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi and Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and Sultan Camid Gandambra, City Administrator of the Islamic City of Marawi witnessed the signing.