Duterte statement on Marawi rehab ‘may fan extremism’
MARAWI CITY — Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said President Duterte’s statement about leaving the rehabilitation of Marawi City to the private sector was “regrettable” and did not coincide with the ongoing efforts of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) and all other government agencies, including private partners and local government units, to rebuild the Islamic City.
Gov’t not spending
In a speech in San Fernando City in Pampanga on Tuesday, Mr. Duterte said he would let wealthy Marawi business owners spend for the full restoration of the city.
“I don’t think that I should be spending for their buildings. The people there have a lot of money,” the President said in Filipino, referring to Marawi businessmen.
“[But] we are not only dealing here with physical reconstruction, we are also engaged in propaganda war against extremist forces,” said Adiong, who used to lead the disaster and crisis management body of Lanao del Sur province at the height of the five-month Marawi crisis that started in May 2017.
“[Extremists are saying], ‘being a Muslim here doesn’t mean anything.’ How can we win that propaganda war?” Adio ng asked, referring to the Islamic State-linked Maute group that battled government forces and laid siege on the city.
Another Marawi resident, Aslani Toti Montila, executive director of the civil society organization Siyap Ko Pagtaw Inc., said he was disappointed when he heard the President’s statement, but said he still trusted Mr. Duterte to keep his promise and rebuild their homes.
The TFBM, through the National Housing Authority has started the demolition and debris clearing inside the most affected areas, said Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario.
The Bayan Muna party-list group also cautioned the President about his statement and said that leaving the rehabilitation of Marawi to the wealthy will only lead to a feeling of neglect from its residents, and may further fan extremism.
“It is the duty of the government to help in the city’s rehabilitation; it should not be left to the private sector. If not, the feeling that [the Marawi residents] were abandoned and left to fend for themselves by the national goverment would only be reinforced and may even lead to extremism,” said Bayan Muna chair and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate meanwhile warned that the ongoing martial law in Mindanao might be used as a smokescreen “to short circuit and even do away with the rules on bidding and procurement process, which can potentially open windows for graft and corruption for this multibillion program.”
As of February, the Department of Finance said over P40 billion has been raised for Marawi’s rehab from concessional loans and international grants. —WITH A REPORT FROM MELVIN GASCON
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