Duterte: Marawi in dire need of rehab assistance

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DAVAO CITY — Saying there will be grave consequences if the government fails to rehabilitate Marawi, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said that he will be seeking significant assistance from Japan to rebuild the war-torn city.

“I think the damage alone and the dimension of the distraction would tell Japan that we need our very best in their assistance. And I do not doubt that Japan can graciously give us the help that we [need],” Duterte told reporters here before leaving for Tokyo.

“Of course, we do not expect Japan would solve all the problems for us—but I would seek significant assistance, considering, as I said, the dimension of the destruction. I am hopeful that [Japan] can improve on these things because we really need to rehabilitate Marawi,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte

The President noted that with Japan’s support to the government’s Mindanao peace and development efforts, Marawi will soon rise “as center of moderation and tolerance in Mindanao” after Islamic State-inspired extremists laid siege on the Lanao del Sur capital last May.

The President likewise stressed that he would take “full responsibility” for the military-led action against jihadists in Marawi amid threats by some residents there to file class suits against the government.

Duterte left the country for a two-day official visit to its top source of official development assistance where the threat of North Korean missiles and the enhancement of trade relations are expected to be at the very forefront of the talks.

The President will likewise meet today (Monday) with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently won a fresh mandate in the October snap elections, and Japanese Emperor Akihito on Tuesday.

Duterte, who said he will “limit his mouth” during his meeting with Akihito, said he will bring the “warm greetings” of a grateful Filipino nation to the Japanese leader.

He said North Korea will be the “opening agenda” during his meeting with Abe as he stressed that a nuclear war in the region “is totally unacceptable.”

“We are worried, all of us. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong,” he said.

He also broached the idea that someone “has to talk” to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un for him to “tone down and stand down” following recent nuclear missile test launches.

The President’s visit to Japan comes ahead of Abe’s attendance at the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila in November.

Although not an Asean member, Japan is among the dialogue partners invited to the summit.

In 2017 alone, loans from Japan amounted to $4.84 billion, which is 44.83 of the total ODA received by the country during that period.

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