The government is already preparing a master plan for the rehabilitation of the war-torn Marawi City, and will implement it as soon as the figthing stops. AFP/File

Gov't preparing P20-B Marawi rehab master plan
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - June 29, 2017 - 5:42am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is already preparing a master plan for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged Marawi, the public works secretary announced on Thursday, although its final shape is still uncertain as authorities could not yet go inside the city.

In a media conference at Malacañang, Mark Villar, the Department of Public Works and Highways secretary, said he had already coordinated with his regional and local government counterparts to plan a quick implementation of the government’s rehabilitation plan once the fighting is over.

Marawi is still being ravaged by clashes, already in their 38th day, between security forces and Islamist militants aiming to establish a caliphate in the Islamic southern city of 200,000.

Villar said President Rodrigo Duterte would like the rehabilitation of Marawi to be quick as he had already allocated P20 billion for the endeavor.

He said that money was significant and the government would provide more if needed.

“The master plan is ongoing now. So after this incident, we’ll be ready. Naka-standby po lahat ng equipment ng DPWH. Currently, we are coordinating with our ARMM counterparts in order to implement very quickly,” he told reporters.

The secretary, however, could not yet provide details of the plan, which he said would be based on modern urban planning, as authorities had not yet accessed the city to make a precise assessment.

“It’s ongoing, so I don’t want to preempt the final version. But definitely, it will be. It was done by experts. It will be utilizing all the latest in terms of urban planning. It will be very efficient. I’m sure it will be an improvement also,” Villar said.

Islamist rebels have proven resilient despite the ground assault and the air bombing they have received from the military. Based on latest government data, 290 militants have already been killed together with 70 security personnel and 27 civilians.

The number of deaths, however, is expected to rise as witnesses say that much more have perished in the town, the access to which is still limited.

The siege of Marawi led the tough-talking Duterte, who campaigned on a tough-on-security platform, to place under martial law the island of Mindanao, a resource-rich area south of the Philippines wracked by lawlessness, violence and fighting in the past decades.

The clashes have also worried regional governments in Southeast Asia which has been victimized by deadly terror attacks before. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to cooperate in fighting militancy and to set up patrols in waters surrounding their porous borders.

The priority right now is to upgrade the temporary shelters for the affected civilians including sanitation facilities, Villar said.

As soon as the fighting ceases, the government would immediately implement its master plan, Villar said, emphasizing that the president is ready to mobilize all the resources needed for the city to return to normalcy.

“We’re ready to mobilize all the resources of all our agencies, so the rehabilitation of Marawi can be done at the soonest possible time,” he said.

Villar said they had not yet figured the complete picture in Marawi as its center and downtown were still inaccessible to authorities. They based their initial evaluation of the situation on pictures they were getting from inside the town, he said.

The government could not yet give an exact figure for the total cost of rebuilding Marawi, but the initial P20 billion would go a long way in rebuilding it, Villar said.

“It will be enough. We’re ready to whatever it takes. Of course, that’s the initial commitment. As we learn more about the effects of the Marawi incident malalaman rin namin kung magkano ang magiging cost the rehabilitation. P20 billion is a good, significant amount. It’s hard to give a peso figure until our engineers can give an assessment of the situation,” he said.

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