February 25, 2018, 9:51 am
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Duterte finalizes plans for Marawi rehab

PRESIDENT Duterte on Wednesday night ordered various agencies to expedite the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.

The President issued the instructions during a meeting in Malacañang with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), National Housing Authority (NHA), Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industria at Gobyerno (PAG-IBIG), and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

Duterte issued the order even as Muslim leaders asked him to stop military airstrikes against the Maute Group involved in the continuing rebellion in Marawi City since May 23.

The Ulama League of the Philippines made the request in a statement issued on Wednesday at the culmination of a three-day “Search for a United Voice for Peace and Justice” conference held in Iligan City.

The group furnished copies of the statement to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año

The statement condemned the “violent extremist group,” referring to the Maute Group, noting their acts “have portrayed a negative image of Islam” and “have caused the destruction in Marawi City.”

Duterte, according to a statement released by Malacañang, said the government should be prepared to immediately execute the recovery plans for the Islamic City and other affected areas once the Armed Forces and the PNP are done with clearing operations.

Duterte also said rehabilitation efforts would purely be a “civilian endeavor.” He also stressed the need to continuously provide displaced families with their most basic needs such as food and clean water.

He also assured the different agencies that he will push for the realignment of the country’s budget to cater to the needs of each department in relation to the funding of their rehabilitation plans.

DSWD Undersecretary Hope Hervilla reported that the distribution of goods in all evacuation centers is still ongoing, while NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said the construction of temporary shelters will begin in September with priority being given to around 4,900 families living in evacuation centers.

Lopez said the DTI has already provided livelihood equipment like sewing machines and clothing materials to some evacuees and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) had also committed to donate 100 more sewing machines for the IDPs.

He also identified several other initiatives to help the IDPs return to normal life, including setting up temporary marketplaces in parts of Iligan where evacuees can set up their own stores. He said the DTI will also work with the Department of Labor and Employment on the conduct job fairs for IDPs.

Before the meeting, Duterte met with actor Robin Padilla and witnessed the signing of a Deed of Donation (DOD) between the latter and the DSWD through Social Welfare Undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco. Padilla donated P5 million “for the immediate psychosocial intervention for the children affected by the hostilities in Marawi City.” 

The Ulama League of the Philippines expressed its support to Duterte’s instruction to the Armed Forces to purge out the violent extremists out of Marawi City.

“(But) while we support this action and other programs of the government for peace and development, we are earnestly requesting the President … to find other ways to purge out of Marawi the extremists rather than the aerial bombings,” the group said.

It noted that such airstrikes “have caused and is continuously causing damage to lives and property.”

The military has been utilizing various Air Force aircraft in hitting enemy positions in Marawi City, including the SF-260 fighter jets and SF-260 planes which figured in friendly fire incidents that caused the death of 12 soldiers involved in the ongoing operations in the city.

The group also asked the government to involve Muslim leaders in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City, especially those that concern the moral, spiritual, social, educational and religious aspects of the endeavor.

Sought for a comment, AFP Western Mindanao Command and Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay said Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said airstrikes are still needed in the ongoing operations.

“The response by commander Wesmincom is that airstrikes are still needed. These are needed by our troops on the ground. But he said we will see...His answer is ‘we will see” but he didn’t say their request is a no,” said Petinglay.

Petinglay assured that the airstrikes being done are commensurate to the resistance offered by the enemy. – With Victor Reyes
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