TEMPORARY shelters for the displaced residents of Marawi City will be ready by December this year, a Malacañang official said Sunday.
Government troops are clearing areas inside the battle zone to make sure no bombs are left when residents return to their homes, said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“The war zone is almost 100 percent cleared,” Andanar said in an interview on radio dzMM. “We could easily clear the whole of Marawi. Rest assured by December, we would be able to deliver hundreds of temporary shelters for our countrymen,” he said in Filipino.
Andanar said the building of permanent structures for the internally displaced persons will also begin as soon as all the areas in the war-torn city have been cleared.
Andanar said the government has allotted P5 billion for Marawi just for this year.
A separate budget will go to the rehabilitation of the southern city next year.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi last week following the death of terrorists Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute inside the battle area.
Andanar said Task Force Bangon Marawi has been discussing rehabilitation plans with the local government and private sector even before the President declared the city’s liberation.
The five-month long war between soldiers and terrorists has left more than 1,000 dead and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents from the once-bustling Mindanao city.
Senator Grace Poe on Sunday batted for a P5-billion Bangon Marawi Fund to be taken from the 2018 national budget, which is being debated in Congress.
The amount would be used to augment the P20 billion to be released within three years by the government for the reconstruction and rebuilding of the city.
Poe, a member of Senate special committee on Marawi that oversees the government’s rebuilding initiatives in the war-torn area, proposed that the additional fund be included under the unprogrammed appropriations of the 2018 national budget.
Economic leaders and members of the Cabinet’s security cluster should start drawing up a master plan that would cover all the needs of Marawi, such as well-planned housing, schools, hospitals, livelihood and improved security in the area, Poe said.
“The Marawi rehabilitation plan should be future-proof and include infrastructure for security against elements who would attempt to besiege the city anew,” the senator said.
The government has allocated P5 billion for the post-conflict plan of the war-torn city in 2017, which would be taken from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund. An additional P10 billion will be released in 2018. The budget allocation for 2019 would be estimated based on the remaining needs of the plan, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.
The government is also studying the possibility of a P30-billion bond float starting next year to help augment the funds for the city’s recovery.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the end of the Marawi siege would further boost investors’ confidence in the Philippine economy.
In a statement, Dominguez said the government could now focus on a comprehensive plan to reconstruct the southern city and provide economic opportunities for its returning residents.
Dominguez said the record performance of the stock market following President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement last Tuesday of the “liberation” of Marawi City from Islamist militants pointed to the positive investor sentiment on the end of the conflict.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index gained 49.80 points or 0.59 percent to end 8,497.74 on Tuesday. That day’s stock rally saw an 8,586.73 intraday peak.
Dominguez noted that even with the crisis in Marawi City and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the business community has remained bullish on the economy and supported the President’s decisive action to deal with the terrorist attack.
“We expect investor confidence to strengthen further and the economy to grow even faster now that the conflict has been virtually resolved and the government has started raising spending on infrastructure and human capital development, which will supercharge growth and create more jobs for our people,” Dominguez said.
Earlier, Dominguez reported that World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva has confirmed the institution’s commitment to work with the Philippine government in helping conflict-torn Marawi City rise from devastation, along with scaling up support for peace-building efforts in Mindanao.
In a recent meeting in Washington DC with Philippine officials led by Dominguez, Georgieva said the World Bank can provide technical aid and other forms of assistance to the Philippines to help rebuild Marawi City.
Georgieva also welcomed Dominguez’s plan to tap domestic resources to raise funds for Marawi’s reconstruction, which, she said, was “the right thing to do” and underscored the importance of “inclusive development” as a key aspect of the rehabilitation strategy for the city.
“We can only express all of our sympathy for what has been going on in Marawi,” said Georgieva during the meeting held at the World Bank office. “As an institution that has committed to peaceful development and dealing with conflict situations, we would be honored in helping in terms of [re]building and engaging in any possible way what we can do in this situation,” Georgieva said.
Dominguez emphasized the need for World Bank’s technical advice and expertise in reconstructing the entire city of Marawi as the Philippines has very limited experience in handling a rehabilitation
program of this magnitude.
“The rehabilitation of Marawi is a complicated situation,” said Dominguez, noting as an example the issue involving land titling for its returning residents, many of whom are informal settlers living in multi-story structures.
“The World Bank has the experience in reconstruction. We want to rebuild the entire city and keep a part of it as a memorial,” Dominguez said.
Also on Sunday, Senator Nancy Binay said that the inclusion of indigenous peoples as well as internally displaced persons was vital to the efforts of the national government to rebuild a better Marawi City.