COTABATO CITY: Five fires have struck the Marawi City this year alone but residents could just watch structures gutting down because the war-torn “Islamic” community has no fire truck yet despite reported release in 2018 of P96-million national fund for fire prevention facilities, according to Philippine Muslim Today news sources.
Latest of the fire ate up on Feb. 18 a school building near the temporary shelter camp at barangay Sangonsongan of some of thousands of residents displaced in the infamous May 23, 2017 siege of the city by combined militants of the dawla Islamiya (of Maute brothers) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) that sparked five months of firefights with security forces.
The Sagonsongan blaze brought to five the number of fire incidents in the city this year, according to Fire Officer 2 Daud M. Macabantog, fire and arson investigator of the Marawi City Fire Station. The four other incidents happened earlier in Sarimanok, Maxine, Basak Malutlut and Kilala, Macabantog said.
Macabantog, using “Gen Sui” as alias, was the first local authority to come out and respond to a post in the “Amanah Tapatan Forum” Facebook page seeking clarification on the whereabouts of P96.4-million funds indicated in the 2018 special allotment release order (SARO) for construction of BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection) facilities (P7.3M), installation of fire hydrants (P3.5M), and purchase of BFF equipment, supplies and materials (P85M).
An image of the 2018 SARO was posted by Aslani “Toti” Cabugatan Montila, chairperson, Siyap ko Pagtaw Inc. and concurrent spokesperson of Development Assistance Team, Independent Monitoring Group, for all projects of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) relative to rehabilitation strides in the city.
“Based on information, the P85M was used to purchase 2 Hazmat (shuttle) trucks, 1 rescue vehicle and 1 ambulance unit,” Montila said, expressing wonder why no fire truck was included when Marawi City has been bereft of fire trucks since 2017.
According to an earlier online report, the city used to have four fire trucks, but the ISIS-inspired militants one unit and torched the three others along with the old city’s fire station building.
Montila believed the P96-M fire prevention facilities-intended funds were coursed through the TFBM, being the lead entity for all rehabilitation efforts in Marawi.
The Philippine Muslim Today news tried but failed to gather reactions from City Mayor Majul Gandamra and TFBM officials, who also have yet to comment on the “Amanah Tapatan Forum” post that solicited words from them.
Macabantog said the TFBM has recently announced an upcoming donation of four fire trucks from China, something he believed to be a reason why the Task Force did not purchase a fire truck of the P85M fund.
He said the city has no fire hydrant yet despite the allocation of the 2018 P3.5M fund for installation of fire hydrants, adding that the hitch was spawned by the absence of main water pipelines in the city.
Montila posted another e-copy of 2018 SARO amounting to P174.5-million intended for the rehabilitation of the city water district.
The P174.5M is broken down as: Operations reactivation of the Marawi City Water District (P8.7M); Replacement of defective pipelines (P8.9M); purchase of tools and equipment and repair of defective pipelines (P5.2M); extension of pipelines system ((P7.1M); provision of water supply for temporary IDPs’ shelters (P59M); provision of water supply for permanent shelters (P15.2M); and provision of sewerage system for collection of and treatment tank overflows at Saronsongan transitional shelter (P70M).
Montila hinted no implementation yet of projects programmed under the P174.5M SARO, citing in particular the case of the P70M sewerage system in Sansongan transitional shelter camp.
In a separate post shared in the “Am,anah Tapatan Forum” page, Montila announced that BFP Regional Director for Bangsamoro region Chief Supt. Victor Vibares directed on Feb. 23 the provincial BFP office to lend one fire truck for Marawi City pending acquisition of its own fire truck(s).
(Ali G. Macabalang/PMT/SRNY/RSP)