Duterte vows to rebuild war-torn Marawi to its old glory
This undated photo shows war-torn Marawi City.
AFP/Ferdinandh Cabrera
Duterte vows to rebuild war-torn Marawi to its old glory
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - October 20, 2020 - 6:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to bring back conflict-ravaged Marawi to its old glory but admitted that the rebuilding of the city is "not that easy."

The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, a group that monitors the rebuilding of the city, has claimed that the progress of rehabilitation projects has been slow.

The group said while the government declared victory against terrorists who attacked the city three years ago, "there is no real liberation to speak of" as most of the residents cannot return to their homes and thousands are still in housing projects in dire conditions.

Duterte said the government has enough resources to rehabilitate Marawi but the process may take time. He said security forces had to clear explosives while other agencies had to deal with overlapping land titles.

"With regard to Marawi, some are complaining. You know, Marawi is not that easy...There are duplicate titles... there’s no title that is really very clean. As a matter of fact, the land itself belongs to the military...so the government is waiving that... (There are) so many things that to solve locally and the problem is about Marawi community itself, not the government," Duterte said in his televised address last Monday.

"The money is there. Do not worry. And we will continue to spend until such time that Marawi is rebuilt to its former glory. It might take - you know, it’s not easy to do that but it might take some time before we can really reach the ideal place that you’d call home," he added.

Duterte also disputed the claim that there was no liberation that took place in the city, which witnessed the longest urban war in the Philippines since World War II.

"Look, government liberated Marawi not from the people of Marawi. We do not do that and we never did it. We liberated Marawi against the terrorist, Maute and the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)...you are using the word 'liberation.' We never said that it is occupied by anybody, except by the government and the peace-loving Filipinos," the president said.  

"Of course, it is not freed by the activities of the terrorist. But...if you’re talking about liberation, it's done at the expense of blood of both sides. It's more hurtful to me because I'm the commander-in-chief and many of my soldiers have died.  We are doing our best. We did not ask for this fight. We had to destroy because it was the only way to put down the enemy," he added.

Citing Human Settlements Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Marawi rehabilitation remains on track and is expected to be completed by December next year.  

He said displaced persons in areas worst hit by the siege are allowed to return to their homes as long as they apply for a building permit for their safety and their land and building ownership. More than 2,000 applied for building permits and almost 800 of them are now building their houses, he added.

"For now, it is not practical to allow all residents to return because there is no water and electricity to speak of. Otherwise, Marawi would just turn into a huge, disorderly evacuation center," Roque said.

The compensation bill that will benefit communities affected by the conflict is now being discussed in Congress, the Palace spokesman added.
Various infrastructure, Roque said, are being built in the most affected area including road networks, a public market, public schools, 24 barangay halls, a fire station, a maritime outpost, a tourist police unit, a peace memorial school, a museum and mosques.

"Come November or December, the construction of hospitals, additional classrooms, public schools, promenade, more mosques, water valve facilities, water treatment plant, sports complex, and convention center will begin," Roque said.

About 1,000 jihadists and more than 160 soldiers and policemen died during the Marawi siege, which began in May 2017 and lasted for five months. The government needs P60.5 billion to rehabilitate the city.

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