The fighting is not yet over in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, but it is good to know that the government has already begun to draw up rehabilitation plans for the devastated city. Malacanang said a P10-billion fund will jump-start the “Bangon Marawi” recovery program. In Congress, House bill 5874 has been filed to set aside a P10-billion supplemental fund for a program the bill calls “Tindeg Marawi.”
As of last Wednesday, four of 12 of barangays attacked by the Maute group and its Islamic State allies from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries were still in enemy hands. Most of the city, which has a total of 96 barangays, was said to have been cleared, but many residents have fled to Iligan City in Lanao del Norte.
About 1,000 residents are said to be trapped in areas still controlled by the Maute. Five residents reportedly tried to make a dash for safety and freedom last Monday but were shot dead. The Islamic State released a video showing jihadists shooting six civilians.
Considering these circumstances, it is difficult to determine when all of Marawi can be cleared. President Duterte has great hopes that it will be soon but Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said he could not give a definite date.
And so the fighting continues in the four Maute-held barangays, but plans for the rehabilitation of the city are already being drawn up. Marawi is the capital not only of Lanao del Sur but also of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is the center of Muslim culture and education in that part of the country, the site of the Mindanao State University. Many government and private buildings and homes were damaged by bombs and bullets. But the greater and more immediate need is to rehabilitate the lives of the people of Marawi.
There will be the inevitable comparison with the rehabilitation of Tacloban City and other towns and cities hit by super-typhoon Yolanda in November, 2013, whose victims continued to lament the slow government aid for years. On the third anniversary of Yolanda in 2016, then newly elected President Duterte attended commemoration rites held at a cemetery with the mass grave of 2,973 typhoon victims and said he was not satisfied with the results of the government’s rehabilitation efforts. The government has fallen short of the expectations of the people, President Duterte said.
The rehabilitation of Marawi City should show the people of the country what a capable and determined government can do.
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