IS it really over?
On Monday, Oct. 23, the Philippine Department of Defense (DND) formally announced the termination of the government’s combat operations in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. This development comes a week after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of the besieged city from the influence of terrorist groups.
It has been five months since government forces clashed with members of the Maute rebel group and other Islamic State-Inspired terrorist groups in Marawi City. The conflict claimed the lives of 847 terrorists, 163 government troopers and 47 civilians, as of Monday. The crisis has also displaced 78,466 families or 359,680 residents, who are now raring to go back home.
The local government of Marawi City has begun conducting clearing operations within the city to prepare for the return of the displaced residents. Among the phases of operations being made are the retrieval of properties, restoration of governance, barangay mapping, profiling, restoration of power system water and facilities or utilities.
Just by looking at the destruction, the rehabilitation of the war-torn city may take three years or longer, according to Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra.
“Talagang sa laki ng pinsala ho ‘yung destruction talagang pag nakita mo I dont think matatapos natin within three years but at least may timeline (With the extent of damage of the destruction, if you see it, I don’t think we can finish it within three years but at least there is a timeline), Gandamra told CNN Philippines.
The government has allocated “about P5 billion ($100 million)” for the support of evacuees, reconstruction of infrastructure and repair of bridges. The budget will be spent until the end of the year. For next year, another P10 billion ($200 million) would be pulled by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from various government agencies for the city’s rehabilitation.
Since the expenses in the rehabilitation of Marawi was not anticipated, Lorenzana believes that P50 billion ($1 billion) is not enough to cover the complete restoration of Marawi City. He said that at least P100 billion ($2 billion) might be needed to rebuild the affected areas.
The extent of damage will only be determined once assessment teams deployed by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) finish collating data on the damage and losses incurred in 24 barangays in Marawi City.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who visited Marawi City last week, said everything in the battle area has been rendered useless.
“I was there in ground zero, talagang wala ka nqng mapapakinabangan eh (everything there can no longer be of use). “You really have to bulldoze the entire area, the ground zero,” Andanar said.
Given the extent of the devastation and the number of people affected, the national government should now focus on rehabilitation and peace-building efforts. Operation “get Marawi City and its people get back on their feet” must now commence. (AJPress)