President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to remain strong and resilient to survive the tough times ahead.
“We are at a time when our resolve is being tested by many trials and difficulties. Corruption, criminality, illegal drugs and terrorism have impeded our progress in the past year. However, I remain hopeful that our resilience will enable us to overcome and rise above these challenges as one nation,” the President said in his New Year’s statement.
Duterte noted that being with family and loved ones should enable Filipinos to build their strength and build on their achievements as individuals and as a community.
“Let us remain determined in achieving our vision of a better and more prosperous future. It is my hope that we foster solidarity as we move forward in our pursuit of providing a more comfortable and productive life for all,” the President said.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo shared the President’s sentiments that the public should remain hopeful because the road ahead is not easy.
“As we welcome the new year, our prayer is for us to continue living with love and hope in our hearts. We have faced a lot of challenges, and there is more to come. There’s the prevailing negativism, anger, culture of fear and violence. But above all these, Filipinos have remained a beacon a hope. In the communities we have visited, we saw acts of kindness,” Robredo said in her New Year’s message.
“Our dream for a better future for Filipino families is still there. We are determined to alleviate the plight of the poor and defend the rights of every Filipino,” she added.
Fighting drugs and crime and stamping out rebellion remain the government’s priorities. Last year, records showed at least 3,800 drug personalities were killed in legitimate police operations but local and international human rights groups have pegged the drug related deaths during the Duterte administration to as much as 13,000.
In May 2017, the President declared martial law in Mindanao after the Maute Group attacked Marawi City. The siege destroyed the Islamic city and left more than 800 people dead.
Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from terrorists on October 17, a day after Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the top leaders of the Maute group, were killed by government forces. But despite the government victory, the President asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.
Malacañang said efforts to rebuild Marawi City is going full blast as the government aims to restore the city before steps down in 2022.
“The goal is to completely rebuild Marawi during the term of President Duterte,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a news briefing in Marawi City.
In the press briefing, Roque, along with officials of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) headed by Housing And Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Leonardo Guerrero, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra as well as other national and local officials, reported on the accomplishments and plans on rebuilding Marawi.
The Palace official said that Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) is conducting post conflict needs assessment (PCNA) in areas affected by the conflict as part of the process of coming up with the initial amount needed to rebuild and restructure Marawi.
In the meantime, the government is building temporary and permanent housing units for displaced Marawi residents.
“The government will build housing units in an area which is only 3.5 kilometers away from the most affected area, and we will be building no less than 6,300 temporary housing units for everyone. We will be building 2,700 permanent housing, and these are for families who in the first place did not have homes prior to the siege of Marawi. And we will also be providing the cost of the housing components for those who have land, but whose houses were destroyed as a result of the conflict,” Roque said.