Regaining Marawi with foreign aid

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Regaining Marawi with foreign aid

Displaced residents of Marawi city queue up to receive relief and food supplies at an evacuation center in Balo-i township, Lanao del Norte province, southern Philippines, May 31, 2017. AP/Bullit Marquez, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign aid, through technical assistance and financial support, poured into the country as government security forces fought with the Maute terror group to regain control of Marawi City.

As the battle in strife-torn Marawi comes to an end, the government is looking to start its reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the city.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that more than P50 billion would be needed to cover the repair and construction of government and private infrastructure. Foreign governments have so far pledged around P2 billion for Marawi.

According to Lorenzana, Japan and Thailand have pledged P100 million each.

On June 27, the Chinese government donated P15 billion for the relief operations in Marawi. Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua presented the check to President Rodrigo Duterte as a sign of the “flourishing partnership” between the Philippines and China. As of September, China has donated a total of P85 million, according to Lorenzana.

“The said donation from China to the Philippines is an example of the flourishing partnership between the two countries and their shared commitment towards sustainable peace in the region,” Malacañang said in a statement.

Despite the earlier announcement of the Duterte administration not to accept new funds from the European Union, the European Commission has pledged to provide 850,000 euros or about P49 million in humanitarian aid to the country.

EU funding will mostly focus on the provision of food, water supply, healthcare, hygiene kits, sanitation facilities and essential household items.

“This grant from the EU will support the delivery of immediate life-saving assistance to those most in need and contribute to increased protection of populations affected by the conflict,” said Pedro-Luis Rojo, head of the East, Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional office for the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

Last September 5, the US announced that it will provide P730 million (approximately $15 million) for ongoing relief operations in Marawi City.

Through the United States Agency for International Development, P153 million will be used for humanitarian assistance while over P577 million will be allotted for the stabilization and rehabilitation of the city.

"I should note that these efforts are just the latest installment of U.S. government non-military assistance that totals 65 billion pesos in the past six years," US Ambassador Sung Kim said.

Aside from financial assistance, the US has also provided equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines including two Cessna C-208 aircraft worth P1.5 billion. Washington also recently US delivers weapons for PAF amid Marawi siege to the military as support to its counterterrorism efforts in Marawi.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has admitted that the US has provided a lot of assistance to the Philippines in its operations in Marawi City.

“It's not publicized but the US helped us a lot in Marawi: gadgets, drones, surveillance, info from Middle East,” Lorenzana said.

Australia had also provided financial and military assistance to the country in its fight against ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi.

On June 23, the Australian government sent two AP-3C Orion aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force to provide surveillance support to government troops.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had also announced that their government will provide $20 million worth of assistance over four years to civilians affected by the Marawi conflict.

"Australia’s support will help meet the urgent needs of these displaced people including through child protection and counselling services," Bishop said.

Earlier this week, the Philippine government confirmed that the two surviving leaders of the Marawi siege have been killed in a gunfight. Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group leader Omar Maute were killed by snipers using long-range rifles.

Lorenzana said that the killing of the two terrorist leaders imply that the conflict in Marawi City would be over soon.

RELATED: How Maute, Hapilon died in one of last Marawi gunfights

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