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Duterte says military to remain in Marawi, orders fast release of rehabilitation funds

President Rodrigo Duterte asked residents of war-torn Marawi City to support the continued deployment of soldiers to thwart attacks by Islamist militants who occupied the city nearly three years ago.

Duterte made the appeal on Wednesday when he met with government agencies involved in the Marawi rehabilitation, local government officials and leaders of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi, according to a Palace press release on Thursday.

“I’m not after the Maranao, ang akin d’yan is the military should be there to avoid a repeat of... ‘yang military hindi ‘yang Maranao ang hinahanap n’yan, the terrorists that terrorize everybody,” he said.

“Now, if you are bothered by my explanation to you, just look at what happened to the Middle East.”

Duterte said he would favor Muslim soldiers to be deployed in Marawi, a predominantly Muslim city.

Twenty-four out of the 96 barangays in Marawi were devastated by the deadly clash between the government forces and the ISIS-inspired Maute group which began on May 23, 2017 and ended five months later.

Issues confronting rehabilitation efforts were also discussed, the Palace said, with local residents complaining about slow completion of projects and expressing their intention to return to their homes.

The rehabilitation initiatives were delayed by circuitous approval process in the bureaucracy, prompting the President to designate Housing Secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson Eduardo del Rosario to coordinate efforts, especially with the release and approval of much-needed budget.

Duterte also instructed the Department of Budget and Management to expedite the release of funds for the rehabilitation process, said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who was present in the meeting.

“What happened to Marawi was a tragedy to this nation and so, in the aftermath, we will do everything to correct so many wrongs and injustices committed against the Moros, not only in Marawi and Lanao but everywhere in Mindanao,” Go quoted Duterte as saying.

In his report to the President, Del Rosario said 2,911 families have been relocated and the government no longer maintains evacuation centers as of January this year.

A total of 2,911 out of 4,866 programmed transitional shelters are already occupied. The rest of the housing units will be completed in the third quarter of the year.

 As to the permanent shelters, the government targets to build 3,580 units to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Currently, 165 units are occupied.

Del Rosario said the reconstruction of major infrastructures and roads is also ongoing with the Mapandi Bridge already 100% complete.

“I want to finish the projects during my time,” the President said. —LDF, GMA News