Duterte backs use of Marawi rehab fund for Mecca trip
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has defended the use of Marawi rehabilitation funds for the pilgrimage of some displaced residents to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The Commission on Audit (COA) recently asked the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to return P5 million, which was spent to send some Marawi City siege victims to the hajj.
“I’m asking COA to reconsider. Ano ba naman ‘yang P5 million? Actually ‘yang P5 million is worth billions in terms of your kind, I said generosity, to finance the poor people, (the poor) Muslim para makapag-Hajj,” Duterte said during his meeting with Muslims to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr in his hometown Davao City.
“It’s not (about) financing a religious journey; do not take it in that sense. Take it as a pacification campaign. After all natives naman tayo dito and we were subjugated,” he added, stressing that the hajj pilgrimage means a lot to every Muslim.
HUDCC chief Eduardo del Rosario, who also heads the rehabilitation efforts of Marawi, earlier said the P5 million released to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) was “part of the social healing process in the overall rehabilitation of Marawi.”
But Malacañang earlier said HUDCC officials may face technical malversation charges if proven that it had diverted P5 million from the Marawi rehabilitation fund to cover last year’s Hajj pilgrimage expenses of siege victims.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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