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Explain Marawi fund used for pilgrimage, HUDCC asked

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Explain Marawi fund used for pilgrimage, HUDCC asked
“We will ask HUDCC to explain,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday. “We will wait for their response.”
HUDCC.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines — The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) should explain its alleged use of funds intended for the rehabilitation of Marawi for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, according to Malacañang.

“We will ask HUDCC to explain,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday. “We will wait for their response.”

Panelo said technical malversation is committed if state funds are used for a purpose other than for which they were originally appropriated. 

The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the HUDCC for allegedly transferring P5 million to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos to fund the pilgrimage or Hajj of the survivors of the Marawi siege.

The fund transfer was not among the authorized expenses under the memorandum of agreement signed by the Office of the President and the HUDCC, state auditors said in its 2018 annual report. 

The COA said the pilgrimage was not in accordance with the purpose for which funds of the Task Force Bangon Marawi were intended.

“I would like to see the COA findings, then I will write HUDCC,” Panelo said.

Task Force Bangon Marawi, an interagency body tasked to oversee the rehabilitation of Marawi, was created under Administrative Order 9 issued on Oct. 7, 2017. In 2018, the Office of the President allotted P500 million to the HUDCC as the task force’s operational budget. 

Normalcy

Meanwhile, three years after the Marawi siege, Task Force Bangon Marawi said normalcy has returned in Butig, Lanao del Sur, the hometown of the Maute brothers.

Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr., Task Force Bangon Marawi field office assistant manager, said the public market is now busy while residents  could walk in a leisurely pace.

Castro along with representatives of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, 49th and 9th Infantry Battalions and Lanao del Sur provincial government visited the town to take part in deradicalization and aftercare programs spearheaded by the 103rd Brigade. 

The program aims to help Maute surrenderees reintegrate into the mainstream of society. 

“When we talk about preventing violent extremism, we should focus here. This is where it all began,” Castro said.

“Admittedly the government and NGOs (non-government organizations) are focused in Marawi. I am making an effort to bring them here. Rest assured that we have not forgotten Butig,” he said. – With Jose Rodel Clapano

HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL

PILGRIMAGE

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