Now that Marawi City has been liberated from the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group, the government is now set to conduct a full-blown rehabilitation and rebuilding of the war-torn city, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Friday, October 27.
“Pumapasok na tayo ngayon sa isang full-blown na rehabilitation, reconstruction, at rebuilding ng Marawi and our long road to normalcy of the city,” AFP Spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.
Padilla reported that Joint Task Force Marawi has been dissolved after it has accomplished its mission of liberating the city. Subsequently, Joint Task Group Ranao, which will take its place, was elevated to a task force in charge of the city’s complete rehabilitation.
“So Ranao under Brig. Gen. Roseller Murillo, the head of the 1st Infantry Division located in Pagadian and previously headed by now the Commanding General of the Army, Lt. Gen. Bautista, is taking over everything in Marawi itself,” Padilla said.
Task Force Ranao will be composed of three composite engineering battalions from the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, all of which will coordinate with the different partner-agencies tasked to help in the rebuilding of Marawi.
Furthermore, Padilla announced that the AFP is in the process of clearing the entire city, particularly the main battle area, to ensure that there are no remaining unexploded ordnances, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or booby traps that could harm citizens.
Meanwhile, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima said the government has already started the return of 6,463 internally displaced persons (IDPs) to nine barangays in Marawi.
“For the remaining barangays in the main battle area, we are awaiting for the conclusion of the clearing operations to be determined by the AFP,” Purisima noted.
Gov’t ensures transparency in the use of Marawi rehab funds
Purisima ensured that the government would continue to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in handling the funds for the Marawi rehabilitation.
He announced that the initial P5-billion budget allotted by the government would be used for the city’s early recovery. Of this amount, an estimated P3.4 billion will be tapped to provide health and social services to IDPs.
“This includes the continuous distribution of relief for our IDPs and other basic services such as water, sanitation and hygiene services, or what we call as WASH, including mental health and psychosocial services, and medical and nutritional services,” Purisima said, adding that remaining funds will be allocated for the ongoing construction of transitional shelters for evacuees.
Purisima also confirmed that the government has received foreign donations from the governments of Canada, China, Germany, Korea, India, Thailand, and Singapore.
Additionally, financial assistance was provided by the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), also for the early recovery phase.
International organizations likewise pledged assistance to the country, including the governments of Australia and Japan, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union (EU), the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Purisima clarified that Task Force Bangon Marawi is still in the process of studying the pledges from foreign organizations, to ensure these are within the framework of the task force’s finance and resource mobilization.
“Individually, if there are organizations or countries that approach specific agencies, the agreement is that that agency would have to disclose that to the task force and the task force will discuss whether to accept it,” he stressed.
The OCD official said they would be providing periodic reports and updates to allow the public to continuously monitor the utilization of all foreign donations for Marawi.
Gov’t forms inter-agency group to ramp up infra projects
During the same press briefing, the Palace announced the formation of an inter-agency group tasked to address bottlenecks and gaps in the government’s infrastructure development agenda.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, said the President’s economic managers have formed the Project Facilitation, Monitoring and Innovation Task Force, composed of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), and Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
In his statement, Abella stressed that the creation of the inter-agency group indicates that there is no slowdown in the Duterte administration’s Build-Build-Build Program.
“The next five years, as we said, will be the Golden Age of Infrastructure,” he said.
“And as we ramp up infrastructure investment, we hope to improve coordination and timing issues and provide solutions to problems during the implementation stage of projects,” Abella added. ###PND