Robredo calls for unity in Marawi rehab
Gilbert Bayoran (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2017 - 4:00pm

BACOLOD CITY  , Philippines  —  Vice President Leni Robredo has called for unity in the rehabilitation of Marawi City following its liberation from the Maute group linked to the terrorist organization Islamic State.

Robredo said she is relieved that the crisis in Marawi has ended after more than four months of fighting between government troops and the Maute group.

“We salute our soldiers who sacrificed their lives to bring back our freedom and rights,” Robredo said at the launching of her project Istorya ng Pag-asa at University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City.

Istorya ng Pag-asa aims to promote success stories of ordinary citizens to inspire positivity and optimism in the country to counter hate and negativity, especially in social media.

The Vice President also noted that the end of hostilities signals the start of rebuilding in Marawi, which the government cannot do alone.

“When we see pictures of devastation, it is really discouraging. But this is not the time for blaming, this is not the time for whatever, it is the time for heroism and unity,” she added.

President Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi after soldiers killed Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, leaders of the local terrorists who attacked and occupied Marawi on May 23. Duterte placed the whole Mindanao under martial law to neutralize the Maute group.

Sectors are now calling for the lifting of martial law as government troops already neutralized the Maute and its leaders.

Robredo reminded that martial law was declared in Mindanao on the premise of peace and order situation, and the Department of National Defense said that there is no more clear and present danger.

New Zealand vows help

Meanwhile, New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan has vowed to help in the capacity building in Marawi City after a meeting with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Thursday.

In an interview on the sidelines of a regional forum in Pasay City, Andanar said Strachan has expressed his government’s intent to provide scholarships for  qualified students and professionals in Marawi City after the President announced Marawi’s liberation from terrorists.

“New Zealand is (also) interested in helping us in Marawi, especially in capa-city building for the broadcast (capability) and in providing scholarship for our fellow Maranaoans,” he said.

Andanar said the technical assistance from New Zealand will boost the government’s efforts to reach out to residents of Mindanao, particularly in the rebuilding of the war-torn Marawi City.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) under Andanar is working on the setting up of a satellite office of his department and the Philippine News Agency in Marawi.

Andanar also bared plans to set up a Salam TV and radio broadcasting facility for Marawi City, which is different from the Salam HD station set-up for the Mindanao region.

US lauds liberation of Marawi

Michael Klecheski, deputy chief of mission of the embassy of the United States, also commended the liberation of Marawi during the 73rd commemoration of the Leyte landing yesterday.

He said the US government is proud that the Philippines achieved a major victory in toppling down the leaders  of the Maute group in Mindanao.

He also said the US reaffirmed its alliances, friendship and partnership with the Philippines, which started during World War II when General Douglas MacArthur liberated the Philippines and its allied forces on Oct. 20, 1944.

“Let us take  this ocassion as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifices of our World War II heroes who fought for our freedom and the real democracy we have now and the coming generations,”  Klecheski said.

– With Christina Mendez, Miriam Garcia Desacada

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