COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING. Former UNDP senior technical consultant for Yolanda recovery, Adam Marlatt, talks on the urgency for the creation of a comprehensive, multi-agency rehabilitation plan, saying, “As the final movements are made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to secure [Marawi City], immediate measures must be taken ensuring good transition and rehabilitation in the response and recovery phase.” Photo by Jinky Mejica of The Crusader Publication. 

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — In a roundtable discussion on Friday, August 4, dubbed as “Rehabilitation and Recovery of Marawi City: Taking Steps Forward,” representatives from various sectors drew together to address the concerns brought about by the ongoing crisis in the capital of Lanao del Sur. 

Former United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) senior technical advisor for Yolanda recovery, Adam Marlatt, in his presentation, drummed the urgency for the creation of a comprehensive, multi-agency rehabilitation plan.

“As the final movements are made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to secure [Marawi City], immediate measures must be taken ensuring good transition and rehabilitation phase,” he said.

Marlatt, an American Marine Reserve Infantry Sergeant and founder of Global Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT), said that the Marawi crisis needs “early recovery planning including the launch of a cluster system as well as implementing immediate projects to coordinate, de-conflict, and identify critical needs.” 

This rehab engagement, Marlatt said, must involve an intensive coordination among all Philippine agencies, private sector actors, non-government organizations international NGOs, and international governments’ stakeholders. 

Crises, such as this in Marawi, are not new to Marlatt. Using the skills he learned on the battlefield, on a District Stability Team with the US State Department, he has deployed his team in the immediate aftermath of disasters to provide technical solutions, medical assistance, and coordination support. Among his team’s interventions included Haiti, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan, and the tri-state area after Hurricane Sandy.

In the recovery phase, Marlatt shared a few points on how to go forward:

  • After immediate actions taken, [psychosocial] projects should be implemented to change the culture of Marawi City and its reintegrated residents. 
  • Expand the economic activities (including agricultural, industrial, and technical programming) to allow for the transition from illicit work opportunities to trade skills.
  • Engage with the private sector on the facilitation of long-term activities to expand opportunities while reducing extremism and illegal activities in the area. 

Humanitarian assistance

As the discussion was aimed at examining possible long-term interventions towards rebuilding Marawi from the rubble, Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu consultant Gabriel Malvar’s talk centered on the complexity of the issue, including its socio-political, cultural, and economic aspects and consequences. 

“We need to look at the issues in the Marawi crisis from various perspectives. … This is a combination of various factors in the past and present. The innocent civilians are the ones caught in the conflict,” he said. 

Head of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) - Lanao del Sur Saripada Pacasum Jr presented updates on the developments of the relief operations of their counterpart in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Pacasum reported that as of August 3, around 1,758 civilians have been rescued by ARRM-PDDRMO. 

LTC Rosendo Abad Jr (GSC PA) shared on the Marawi Command Center’s progress in handling the Marawi crisis, saying that various local and national government agencies have started collaborating with the Joint Task Group (JTG) on the rehabilitation. 

Abad also assured that humanitarian assistance, relief, and rescue are in full swing under the direction of the Joint Task Force Marawi and the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), through JTG Ranao and JTG Tabang.

RELATED READ: #TabangMarawi: Toilet, communal kitchen constructed at Bito Buadi Itowa evacuation center in Marawi

The children and their future

For his part, Xavier Ateneo president Fr Roberto C Yap SJ told the group that the university is willing to provide venues and technical assistance for the discourse on the rehabilitation of Marawi City. 

XU has more than a hundred Muslim students and has recognized the interfaith efforts of the student group, Siraj Muslim Religious Organization.

Xavier Ateneo’s Social Development Office and XU Central Student Government are also manning the #TabangMarawi relief operation at the XU Peace Park. As of this report, Tabang Marawi has already received more than Php4M worth of cash and in-kind donations.

Besides emphasizing the importance of coordination from different public and private sectors to address the Marawi crisis, Yap re-echoed the words of Fr Bienvenido Nebres SJ (former president of Xavier University and Ateneo de Manila University).

“Whenever we coordinate, we should put in our minds and hearts the children of Marawi. If we fail the children, we fail the future,” Yap said, expressing the university’s commitment as a convergence point of ideas and discussions for the rehabilitation efforts. 

XU’s vice-president for social development Roel Ravanera, in his closing remarks, also said that the university remains steadfast in providing context on the realities of Marawi crisis through social outreach, research, and inclusive engagements with different public and private organizations. 

The Marawi conflict erupted on May 23, after a contingent of roughly 500 members of the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked the city, resulting in over 500 deaths, displacement of more than 200,000 people, and billions worth of damage to property.

The national government targets to earmark at least Php10B initially for the Marawi rehabilitation and recovery. ∎


This roundtable discussion was made possible through the collaboration of Xavier Ateneo, Upsilon Sigma Phi of the University of the Philippines, and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through Undersecretary Noel Puyat. Guests included representatives from the Philippine Army, Oro Chamber, Department of Agriculture - Region 10, Philippine National Police - Northern Mindanao, Muslim Youth Council, Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), National Economic and Development Authority - X, and civil society organizations. You may download the Marawi Action Plan presentation of Adam Marlatt here.