The national government will spend until war-torn Marawi City is rebuilt to its former glory, President Rodrigo Duterte said on October 19, 2020.
In his weekly Talk to the Nation, Duterte assured that the government has enough funds and is willing to look for more if necessary to rehabilitate Marawi City.
“The money is there, do not worry. And we will continue to spend until such time that Marawi is rebuilt to its former glory,” he said.
He added though that it might take “some time” before the city can be liveable again.
“You know it’s not easy to do that. It might take some time before we can really reach the ideal place that you’d call home,” he said. “We started it and we are at it already because the clearing of explosives ang matagal (takes long).”
He also refuted criticisms made by watchdog Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch that there is “no real liberation” three years after his declaration.
“Itong mga tao na nagrereklamo ang sabi (These people complaining, saying), there is no liberation of Marawi yet. Look, government liberated Marawi not from the people of Marawi. We never do that and we never did it. We liberated Marawi against the terrorist Maute pati yung (and also) ISIS,” he added.
He added that the government “never said it is occupied by anybody except by the government and the peace-loving Filipinos.”
“Of course, it is not freed of the activities of the terrorists, but if you’re talking about liberation, tapos na ‘yan (it’s done) at the expense of blood of both sides. Pero sa akin mas masakit (it’s more painful) because I’m the commander in chief, marami akong sundalong namatay (many of my soldiers died),” he added.
Duterte explained that nobody wanted to deal with widespread death and destruction after the Maute group laid siege on the city for five months, starting on May 23, 2017.
“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 said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Duterte wanted rehabilitation efforts for Marawi City “hastened.”
“Let’s just say that we are satisfied but the President of course would appreciate if it could be hastened,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chairman and housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said rehabilitation is on track and will meet the December 2021 deadline to finish rehabilitating the city.
Duterte declared Marawi City free from the terrorist Maute group on Oct. 17, 2017.
The 2017 siege prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial rule until Dec. 31, 2019 to quell the terrorism in the southern part of the country. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)