President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that Marawi City will rise from the ruins of a terrorist attack as he vowed to pour funds and aid to the city to help residents there start life anew.
The President, who joined members of the Muslim community in celebrating Eid’l Fitr in Malacañang on Tuesday night, reiterated his government’s commitment to secure peace in Mindanao.
“To our brothers and sisters who have been affected by the violence and conflict in Mindanao, I assure you that the government is committed to securing just and lasting peace in the island. The military and the police remain hard at work to ending the crisis with dispatch, especially in Marawi,” he said.
Duterte said the government has laid concrete plans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.
He said Task Force Bangon Marawi, composed of various agencies of the government, is being created to hasten recovery efforts in the city.
“The amount of P20 billion has already been allocated to ensure that this happens. More funds will be added, if necessary. Meaningful and long-term support will also be made available, with the help of our partners in the private sector and the international community,” he said.
“Tatapusin ko talaga ito (I will finish this). One thing I will promise you, my brother Moro, I will see to it that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again,” the President added.
To help improve the capabilities of the youth, Duterte said the government will continue to support scholars who are now studying at the Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University in Indonesia.
“They will become part of the next generation of leaders who will help develop and advance their localities towards greater prosperity and progress,” he said.
Duterte reassured the Muslim community that “the entire nation is beside you during this challenging period in your lives.”
“We will be with you as you rebuild your homes and localities, and as you realize your dreams of a better life,” Duterte said.
“As Filipinos, all of us share a common destiny bound by this island we call home. So let us unite to achieve our common goals. With our solidarity and faith in each other, let us make Mindanao and the Philippines a land of order, stability, harmony and prosperity,” he added.
It has been a month since the Maute Group attacked Marawi, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee.
Duterte said he knew that the government was in for a long fight when he declared martial law in Maindanao.
“Noong pagsabi ko na mag-martial law ako, nandoon ako sa Moscow, alam ko na lahat. Alam ko na how long it would take for us. Alam ko ang deployment ng mga snipers, pati kung saan nila itinago ang mga armas nila (When I declared martial law, I was in Moscow, but I knew everything. I knew how long it would take for us (to fight). I knew their deployment of snipers, and where they hid their firearms.) I already had a complete picture and I knew it would be a long fight,” he said.
End it soon
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also on Tuesday expressed hope that the fighting in Marawi will end before the President delivers his second state of the nation address on July 24.
“There is somehow pressure, because if [the conflict in]Marawi City is still ongoing and everyone is killing each other, well, it will not be good with the President’s SONA,” he said in a radio interview.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. earlier said the war could last longer while other officials said it is nearing its end.
“These Maute members, as we observed them, they are [willing]to fight to the death but we always tell them since we have a bullhorn there, to go down and surrender, you cannot win, but they still continue to fight,” he said.
Lorenzana admitted that the Maute group remains strong despite more than a month of fierce fighting.
“We will still continue our operations, but this will be finished before the State of the Nation Address on July , maybe, it will be finished [by that time],” he said.
More than 200 firearms have been seized from the Maute and government troops but according to Lorenzana, the terrorists are well armed, which means that they have a stash of guns and ammunition.