Thursday, August 8, 2019

More Army troops to boost debris clearing in Marawi

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 7, 2019): More Army troops to boost debris clearing in Marawi

BALOI, LANAO DEL NORTE –– Two years after Marawi City was devastated by the five-month-long war between the government and the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in 2017, a hundred more troops will arrive here in September to reinforce the battalions tasked with debris cleaning and management of the city’s ground zero.

Col. Nestor Abando, the new acting commander of the 55th Engineer Brigade, said the additional troops would help speed up the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City’s 250-hectare area that bore the brunt of the war that reduced the once-bustling Islamic city into rubble.

“In one month, they (the Army engineers) will be finished with their training. When they arrive here, they will undergo another training to fully equip them for bigger work in Marawi,” said Abando.

Abando took over the helm as acting commanding chief of the 55th Engineer Brigade during the change of command ceremony at the brigade’s headquarters here on Monday.

The 55th EB, mainly composed of the 551st and 553rd engineer battalions and the 500 engineer combat battalion, is helping clear, dispose, and detonate the unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the most affected area in Marawi City.

Abando took over the post of former acting chief of the 55th EB Col. Irineo Sebastian, also the designated commander of the Joint Task Group Builder, a team of soldiers, who are in charge of recovering and detonating UXOs in the city.

Sebastian took over as acting chief of the 55th EB only on June 10 this year, after Brigadier General Ramon Ruiz, its former chief, took a leave of absence due to health reason.

The 55th EB, which was deactivated in 2013, was reactivated in March this year to help in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi.

“The 55th Engineer Brigade was created (to help in) the rehabilitation of Marawi City,” Abando said.

“Rest assured that (we’re here) not only for the rehabilitation engineering works but also to help other government agencies (conduct) interventions among the IDPs (internally displaced persons), including performing psychosocial services,” Abando said.

At present, troops of the 551st Engineer Battalion are constructing a three-story school building of Datu Saber Elementary School with the GMA Kapuso Foundation in Barangay Datu Saber, which is outside the most affected areas.

The old building, which was demolished earlier, would be replaced by a new and bigger one, Abando said.

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