World Bulletin / News Desk
The Philippine government announced Wednesday, that it has spent PHP5 billion ($97.21 million) to liberate Marawi City from the combined forces of ISIL-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups.
In a press briefing, Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippine government’s spending on ammunition, fuel, food and allowances of troops are still going up as military operations are ongoing to neutralize some 20 militants holed up in a two-hectare main battle area.
“The Department of Budget and Management has allocated for support of evacuees, construction of houses, repair of bridges up to the end of the year,” Lorenzana was quoted by Inquirer News as saying.
Lorenzana also disclosed that at least PHP10 billion ($194.42 million) is needed for the government to push for a full-swing rebuilding of the besieged city in 2018.
Prominent Filipino architect Felino Palafox Jr., who has an array of experiences rehabilitating earthquake, tsunami and other disaster –damaged areas, has vowed to help rebuild Marawi - who he said is the worst he has encountered.
“We still believe that ground zero should be preserved as a lesson for future generations,” said Palafox who said his proposal was accepted by the local government officials however with concern for “social acceptance”.
While Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra estimated the rehabilitation phase will take at least three years, Palafox believes that it would take 70 years to bring the city back to what it was before the May 23 attack.
“Rehabilitate, maybe, the places of worships, education, and the significant buildings. The damaged ones, they can be retained, especially those full of bullets as a lesson for the future how terrorism can destroy a peaceful city,” said Palafox.
Meanwhile, the military is firm that no terrorist can safely exit as it urged a handful of fighters to surrender.
“We are calling for them to surrender. The only way to get out alive is to surrender,” said military chief Eduardo Año in an interview with a local radio station.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday announced that Marawi is liberated from terrorists following the death of its key leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
As troops have intensified offensives against ISIL-linked terrorists in several areas in southern Philippines’ Mindanao, calls to return to the fold of the government have been undertaken.
As of January this year, a total of 123 Abu Sayyaf fighters have surrendered to authorities, the latest of which are three members identified as relatives of the slain Hapilon, who turned themselves over to the military in the town of Al-Barka in Basilan, state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Jonas Templo as saying.
Hapilon, the alleged “emir” of ISIL in Southeast Asia is a former Abu Sayyaf leader who hails from Basilan, a province known to be a haven for the militant group.
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