By Yas D. Ocampo
DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte ordered the release of P500 million for the care of soldiers who were wounded in the battle of Marawi City.
This was disclosed by the President Tuesday night at the Davao International Airport upon arrival from Japan where he had a two-day official visit.
The President ordered the fast-tracking of the release of the funds, which will go into the therapy, rehabilitation and medicines needed by personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who were wounded in the five-month conflict.
He added that the wounded will also be prioritized in the government’s housing program.
Duterte made mention of the wounded warriors of Marawi when he noted that the housing projects meant for military and police personnel were taken over by militant protesters.
The President had ordered authorities to stand down and give the project to the protesters, who belonged to an urban poor group.
As such, Duterte issued an urgent order that houses for the wounded, “and especially those who have been permanently debilitated,” be built at once.
“Ayaw kong magdaan ng maraming documents (I don’t want the process to go through so many documents,” he said while adding that the contract to build the wounded soldiers’ house should be immediately awarded to the lowest bidder.
Duterte asked the police and military to sacrifice a little more when it came to their housing program.
“Pag pasensyahan na lang ninyo ako. hindi pwedeng awayin ang mahirap (I hope you will have more patience, we cannot antagonize the poor). Since we are in the service of the Republic. I hope you can sacrifice a little bit. Just wait, but I will build you homes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he was supporting local peace efforts being initiated by local government units, such as that being undertaken by his daughter and this city’s Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“Magsurrender na lang kayo ngayon at ibaba ninyo ang mga baril or isurrender … may trabaho kayong naghihintay (Just surrender now and lay down your arms, and surrender. There are jobs waiting for you),” Duterte said in reaching out to the insurgents.
According to the President, he would even consider including the surrendered members of the New People’s Army (NPA) into the housing programs under the National Housing Authority (NHA).
He added that he was even encouraging Caprio to pursue localized talks with the Communist rebels.
“To the NPA, do not take it so badly. Walang pilitan ito (We are not forcing you),” Duterte addressed the rebel group about their members who may already want to stop fighting. “You’re always invited to go back mainstream, balik kayo dito, aalagaan ko kayo (Return and I will take care of you). Eventually just to prepare you into mainstream society,” he pledged.
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