Duterte on Marawi private properties: I don’t think I should spend for them

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte is cold to help rebuild private properties destroyed in the war between government forces and pro-ISIS terrorists in Marawi in 2017 saying there are many affluent people in the city, some of whom are even involved in the illegal drug trade.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 7th Union Asia Pacific Regional Conference held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on April 23, 2019. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Duterte made the statement after expressing his desire to build houses for Pampanga quake victims the same as the ones built in Marawi City.

But the President revealed having second thoughts about helping rebuild private properties destroyed in the five-month Marawi siege.

“I don’t think that I should be spending for their buildings. Hindi ako maggagasto ng ano (I will not be spending for them),” he said.

“Marami man ‘yang pera ‘yang mga tao diyan. Every Maranao, there is a businessman. Kasali na ‘yang shabu. May pera sila (The people there have a lot of money. Every Maranao, there is a businessman, and that includes the illegal drugs),” he added.

“The debate there is whether I would be also building the same kind that they lost. I don’t think I am ready for that,” he continued.

Almost a thousand terrorists, 47 civilians, and 165 government troops were killed after the ISIS-linked Maute group laid siege on Marawi City on May 23, 2017. A month after the war sparked, Duterte vowed to rebuild the war-torn city.

“Sabi ko tatapusin ko talaga ito (I promise you that I will finish this war), but one thing I will promise you: I will see to it that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again,” Duterte said during the Eid’l Fitr celebration in Malacañang two years ago.

“I need a big amount because I will rebuild Marawi. Kailangan ko talaga itayo ang Marawi kasi, kung hindi, I will remain forever a kontrabida (I badly need money because if I fail to rebuild Marawi, I will remain a villain forever),” he added.

Some 300,000 residents were displaced by the siege which turned houses and buildings to rubble. The government has set aside P67.99 billion for the city’s comprehensive rehabilitation.

As of February, the Department of Finance said over P40 billion has been raised through concessional loans, as well as international grants.

Task Force Bangon Marawi is hoping to complete the rehabilitation by the end of 2021. The rehabilitation broke ground in October last year.

READ MORE: Marawi folks should take lead in rehab efforts – Makabayan Bloc lawmaker