The wake of disasters and wars like Marawi is a breeding ground for fraud and corruption. The need for services during a war is high, but such urgency can lead to poor controls, opening the door to graft and corruption. Bearing these in mind, we initiated the investigation based on two controversial pegs: the pre-selection of a Chinese-led consortium and in so doing, the government setting aside traditional procedures to supposedly “fast-track” the reconstruction of Marawi.
Our investigation yielded the following findings, among others:
1. The government plans to rebuild Marawi by pre-selecting a China-led consortium that didn’t have qualifications required if standard procedures were to be followed. (This consortium has since been disqualified after PCIJ’s investigation was released.)
2. A majority of Duterte allies that will pick Marawi’s ground-zero contractor.
3. Firms of political clans were among winners of Marawi road and housing deals.
4. Food packs and various kits procured for Marawi residents were overpriced.
The groundbreaking for the Marawi rebuilding and rehabilitation project had already been pushed back at least 10 times since the investigation began. Until rehabilitation activities actually start, what used to be Lanao del Sur’s proud and beautiful capital will continue to lie in ruins, and thousands of its residents will remain displaced.
One of the reporting challenges we encountered was the lack of expertise in the procurement process which was being bypassed by our government in the case of Marawi. To address this, we reached out to procurement experts and former government officials who provided valuable inputs in the stories.
Access to information from the key agencies also posed a problem but we were able to find our way around it by looking at the paper trail to see which other agencies might have a copy of the information we’re looking for.
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