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Marines sit beside a flag on top of a tank in Barangay Bangolo, Marawi City, on Tuesday where President Duterte led the flag raising and where he declared Marawi “liberated from terrorist influence” following the battlefield deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, leader of the Maute terror group. (photo by froilan gallardo)

Budget exec eyes P5b for Marawi rehab this year, P10b in 2018

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno yesterday assured that the government has the sufficient funds for the rehabilitation of strife-torn Marawi City.

Diokno said officials have yet to determine the actual rehabilitation cost but added that the government has P5 billion from the national risk reduction fund for this year. Next year, the budget for the undertaking is P10 billion.

“We will not be constrained by funding,” he said, adding that there are groups like the World Bank that have committed to help in the rehabilitation.

Diokno, who was in the US last week to attend the annual meetings of the WB and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, said WB experts discussed with the Philippine delegation ways on how to rehabilitate Marawi City, “liberation” of which was declared by President Duterte on Tuesday.

He pointed out that what the government really needs now is the technical assistance from experts and not primarily funding, citing also that under the proposed 2018 national budget about P10 billion has been allocated for Marawi City’s rehabilitation.

He also said the government is set to issue its planned Marawi bond in the first quarter of 2018.

“It’s a go… We’re planning to float one by January,” he said, citing that they are now discussing the specifics of the debt paper.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana pegged the cost of rebuilding Marawi City at around P100 billion.

Diokno, however, said it has yet to be finalized before they would be able to determine the mechanics.

He said a meeting with officials of the defense department, among others, would be held to discuss the rehabilitation plan which might be finalized by end-October.

“We expect to hit the ground running on rehabilitation in the next few weeks,” he said. “Now is the time to move forward and rebuild Marawi into the inclusive, inter-faith, international and modern city it deserves to become.”

In another development, China is ready to provide more assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Marawi City.

“China stands ready to continue providing needed support and assistance in light of the needs of the government of the Philippines,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs  spokesperson Lu Kang said.

President on Tuesday announced the liberation of the predominantly Muslim city from the clutches of the extremists following the killing of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

“The Chinese side sincerely hopes that the people in Marawi and the Mindanao region can enjoy the peaceful and tranquil life again at an early date,” Lu said.

In June, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua handed to health and social welfare officials a P15-million check donation for Marawi City’s relief operations and rehabilitation.

The presentation of the check was witnessed by President Duterte, whose foreign policy has led to the revival of Chinese-Philippine relations.

Also in June, China donated P370 million worth of about rifles and ammunition to help the military in fighting the terrorists.

“Combating terrorism is the shared responsibility of all nations,” Lu said.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said China had donated 47 sets of heavy equipment, which would be used for the reconstruction of Marawi City.

The equipment, which arrived in Iligan City last week, included eight sets of excavators, eight sets of wheel loaders, five sets of compactors, five sets of track-type tractors, five sets of bulldozers, eight sets of dump trucks, eight sets of cement mixers, and one container van.

Villar said seven more equipment were expected to arrive through China’s Emergency Humanitarian Assistance. (pna)

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