Gov't negotiating with China-led consortium to rebuild Marawi; initial cost at ₱17-B

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — The government is negotiating with a consortium of Chinese and Filipino companies to come up with a plan to rebuild the most damaged areas in war-torn Marawi.

Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson and housing czar Eduardo del Rosario confirmed this to CNN Philippines in a phone interview Tuesday.

He said the group, which called itself the Bagong Marawi Consortium, was selected in March. It is composed of five Chinese companies and four Filipino companies.

The consortium proposed to rebuild 250 hectares of Marawi's ground zero with an initial estimated cost of ₱18 billion. The amount was later cut down to ₱17.1 billion.

This was the lowest among the amounts pitched by five foreign companies who submitted their unsolicited proposals for rebuilding Marawi, del Rosario said. The highest bid was ₱89 billion, followed by ₱32 billion, ₱23 billion, and ₱22 billion, he added.

Four other Chinese companies and a Malaysian company submitted their proposals.

"Sa lahat ng nagsubmit ng plano, siya ang pinakamalaki in terms of capitalization (Among those that submitted proposals, it has the biggest capitalization). So it's Bagong Marawi Consortium," del Rosario said.

The consortium is composed of the China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd., which is owned by the Chinese government, Anhui Huali Construction Group Co. Ltd., China Geo Engineering Corp., TBEA Co. Ltd., and Shandong Jinyuan Homes Industry Development Co. Ltd.

Local firms in the consortium are Future Homes Philippines Inc., A Brown Company Inc., H.S. Pow Construction and Development, and SDW Realty & Development Inc.

Next: Consultation, Swiss Challenge

Del Rosario clarified the Bagong Marawi Consortium is not yet awarded the "original proponent status."

"Nagco-conduct pa tayo ng negotiation to finalize the details, the terms of reference, how much will it cost per subproject and once we determine (we have a) successful negotiation then that company will be given the original proponent status and will be subjected to the Swiss Challenge," he said.

An original proponent status gives a company the right to match other groups' offers and win the project under a Swiss challenge, a bidding process that allows rivals to submit competing offers.

The negotiation process started Monday, del Rosario said. This will be followed by a two-week "consultation on the ground," where the government will hear suggestions from stakeholders, including local government officials and residents of Marawi.

Once final, the consortium's proposal will be published in national broadsheets and will undergo Swiss Challenge. Other developers has three weeks to steal the deal by offering bids to execute the plan at a lower cost.

Bagong Marawi Consortium will then have to "outbid the challenger," del Rosario said, for it to finally be awarded the contract.

Del Rosario said it is the Public-Private Partnership Center that will determine the percentage of Filipino ownership a foreign partner of the government needs.

"It will be within the policy of the government definitely," he said.

New target: First week of June

Del Rosario admitted however there will be a delay in the initial timeline in starting the construction in ground zero. Task Force Bangon Marawi earlier eyed it for April.

The target now is first week of June, del Rosario said.

Despite the delay, del Rosario assured the government is on the right track in rebuilding Marawi.

"We are doing our best to satisfy all the stakeholders and we are doing this process na nagkaroon tayo ng selection to ensure that we will get the best offer," Del Rosario said.

Some of the displaced residents of Marawi have decried being "left out" in the government's plans to rebuild their city, saying they were not consulted. This is a claim the government has denied.

READ: Marawi residents to gov’t: Let us go home

On Sunday, residents from the most affected areas in Marawi City were allowed to go home for the first time since the war broke out. Around 1,200 families made up the first batch of returnees.

Marawi crisis

More than 300,000 residents were displaced by heavy fighting between government forces and terrorists which began on May 23, 2017. The war ended in October that year with over 900 terrorists, 47 civilians, and 165 government troops killed.

Houses and buildings were turned to rubble, especially in 24 barangays in ground zero.

Task Force Bangon Marawi estimated the cost of rehabilitating and rebuilding Marawi would amount to ₱51.6 billion.

Del Rosario said the amount covers all the needed intervention to rehabilitate Marawi, including the building of infrastructure, provision of livelihood for the residents, and educational and psychosocial support, among others.