The United States (US) has expressed willingness to assist the Philippine government in efforts to rehabilitate war-torn Marawi City.
The commitment was made by US Ambassador Sung Kim to President Rodrigo Duterte in a meeting in Malacañang on Monday.
On his Twitter post, Kim said he had a “great discussion” with Duterte, where they tackled terrorism and rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.
“Great discussion with Pres. Duterte: shared concerns re terrorist threat; reaffirmed our support for C/T (counter terrorism) & rehabilitation efforts in Marawi,” Kim said.
The meeting came a few days after Duterte, in a speech in Pampanga, invited allies of the Philippines to help in the rebuilding of Marawi City.
“As our troops wrap up our operations against the remaining terrorists in Marawi, I also welcome our international partners into looking forward to rebuilding the city. This invitation extends to our allies who share with us the principles of goodwill and non-interference in our domestic affairs,” the President said.
Amid the Marawi conflict, the US has provided technical assistance to Philippine troops to help quell the insurgency in Mindanao.
In a news conference in Malacañang, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Kim had told him the US government was ready to help the Philippines rebuild Marawi City, the country’s most important Muslim city and the capital of Lanao del Sur known for its elevated terrain and placid lake.
“We have already gotten some information that they will help. We do not know if they are going to help in kind or in funds or whatever,” Lorenzana told reporters.
“I met Ambassador Kim last week and he said, ‘If you need some help, let us discuss that.’ That (US assistance) is included [in Duterte’s meeting with Kim],” he added.
The Duterte administration has vowed to channel a P20-billion fund to the rehabilitation and recovery of the war-torn city.
Lorenzana admitted that restoring normalcy in Marawi City would take time because several buildings have been destroyed.
He said government troops would initially be focused on clearing Marawi City of any explosives, once the battle ends.
“The first thing that we would do after the fighting stops is to clear the areas of any IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or any explosives [left behind], after which, we are going to allow the return of the civilians, of the residents of Marawi,” Lorenzana said.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the fighting in Marawi City has displaced about 72,000 families. It has resulted in the killings of 39 civilians, 337 terrorists, and 84 government troops, as of July 2.