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Government allots P10 B for Marawi rehab

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Government allots P10 B for Marawi rehab

Debris flies in the air as Air Force planes bomb suspected locations of Maute terrorists in Marawi City last Friday. Inset shows soldiers watching the air strikes while manning a checkpoint. AP

MANILA, Philippines - The government will allocate P10 billion for the rebuilding of Marawi City, which has been ravaged after continuing clashes between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group.

The Department of National Defense (DND) will lead the “Bangon Marawi” recovery effort, which aims to bring back to normal the situation in the strife-torn city as soon as possible, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. 

“The EO (executive order) for ‘Bangon Marawi’ is awaiting President Duterte’s signature,” Abella told state-run radio station Radyo Pilipinas yesterday.

“The proposed package amounting to P10 billion, as promised by the President, will be a multi-agency effort,” Abella added. 

The Palace official did not say where the administration would source the funds for the program.

“The rebuilding would take a minimum of six months and may begin after clearing the city, which should take at least one to two weeks,” Abella said. 

Security forces have been trying to clear Marawi of Maute militants since May 23, the day President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.

Government troops sought to flush out the Maute group from the city last week but failed to do so because of the presence of trapped civilians and the continued resistance of the terrorists.

On Thursday, the military said the Maute terrorists have control over three villages and expressed optimism that the entire city would be retaken by the goernment by Monday in time for the commemoration of Independence Day.

Yesterday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said 13 soldiers were killed and 51 others were wounded in fresh offensives against the IS-linked terrorists on Friday night.

While officials are upbeat that the Marawi crisis would soon be over, the leaders of the terrorist group, Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah and Isnilon Hapilon, remain at large. 

A total of 138 terrorists, 58 government troopers and 21 civilians have died since fighting in Marawi City erupted last month. 

 Earlier, the DND said the Marawi central business district would have to undergo a “more detailed clearing” to ensure the safety of the people.

Among the agencies that will join the rebuilding efforts are the trade, education, social welfare, public works, energy and information and communications technology departments. Military engineering brigades will undertake the rebuilding projects under the supervision of an undersecretary. 

“We assure the people of Marawi that the government will do everything to ensure normalcy and to deliver services to support their aspirations for a comfortable life,” Abella said. 

Despite the Marawi crisis, Abella claimed that the Philippines’ economic prospects remain bright. 

“The economic pace should pick up even more with the Philippine Development Plan and public investment plan promulgated by EO 27 signed by the President last June 1,” Abella said.

Duterte has tasked Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco to monitor the progress of the infrastructure projects, which are expected to be funded by tax reforms and foreign investments. 

One-time cash aid

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will provide a one-time cash aid of P1,000 to each family displaced by the Marawi conflict.

DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said since a majority of the Marawi residents are Muslim, the agency deemed it necessary to provide them with financial assistance so they could buy their food for Ramadan.

“They can use the assistance to buy fruits because they are breaking their fast,” she said.

Taguiwalo said the provision of cash grant was suggested by representatives from Lanao to allow Muslim evacuees to observe Ramadan even if they are staying in evacuation centers.

“We can provide P1,000 for each family. We will process the distribution properly to ensure that all evacuees will receive the assistance,” she said.

“This cash assistance is just one-time as we continuously provide them with food supplies. But we are preparing the provision of additional assistance once they go back to Marawi, such as tents which they can use as temporary shelter,” she added.

As of Friday, the armed conflict has displaced a total of 50,327 families or 245,341 people in 27 barangays in Marawi and 13 barangays in Marantao, Lanao del Sur.

Of the number, 4,244 families or 20,627 individuals are staying in 63 evacuation centers, while 44,999 families or 219,339 individuals are staying with their relatives in Regions 7, 10, 12, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Negros Island Region.  

The DSWD said it has allocated more than P56 million worth of food and non-food items for the displaced residents.

Another P60 million was downloaded to the responding DSWD offices as fund augmentation.

Taguiwalo cited the efforts of private organizations, humanitarian groups and individuals as well as local government units (LGUs) outside Mindanao for extending aid to the affected families in Marawi.

“While the DSWD continues to provide aid as the principal disaster response agency of the government, private organizations and LGUs are also extending assistance. We thank them for their help during this difficult situation,” she said.

Leni meets with ARMM execs

Vice President Leni Robredo met with ARMM officials to plan the relief and response operations as well as rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.

The meeting was held at the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in Quezon City on Friday.

Representatives of various organizations that are part of the OVP’s Angat Buhay program, an initiative aimed at addressing poverty and other issues faced by Filipinos, attended the meeting.

Robredo earlier mobilized a team to help in providing assistance to residents displaced by the Marawi crisis.  – With Sheila Crisostomo, Janvic Mateo

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