Senator Win Gatchalian has vowed to fight for a significant increase in funds earmarked for the rehabilitation of Marawi City in the 2018 national budget.
Gatchalian, who spent the weekend meeting with local government officials, top military brass, and civilian evacuees in Marawi City and surrounding municipalities, explained that the initial proposal of P20 billion would not be enough to rebuild key infrastructure and provide quality basic social services to the hundreds of thousands of area residents displaced by the conflict.
“We will need to spend at least P47 billion to make sure that facilities will be rebuilt and, more importantly, to bring the lives of the people back to normal,” said Gatchalian, who computed the figure in consultation with Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra and other government officials.
Stressing the urgent need to inject public funds into the local economy of Marawi, Gatchalian said he would work to carve out as much as P40 billion for initial rehab funds when the Senate begins plenary deliberations on the General Appropriations Bill this month.
“Marawi’s economy is at a standstill right now. What we have to do now is jumpstart it, and to do that we are looking at a figure of around P40 billion,” said Gatchalian, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
“We should be looking at the P40 billion vicinity so that we can rehabilitate not only infrastructure, but also the livelihood of the people. Their welfare should also be our concern,” he added.
The senator, who also serves as a member of the Senate Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation, emphasized that the aim of government rehabilitation efforts should be to improve the quality of life of Marawi City residents in the long term.
“We have to remember that Marawi was one of the poorest cities before this all happened, so we can’t just rehabilitate it and bring it back to the way it was before. If we do that, it would still be the poorest. We need to level up investments here,” he said.
During his visit Gatchalian also participated in the distribution of relief goods, sanitary kits, and financial assistance provided by the Valenzuela City Government and private sector donors. This is the second relief operation conducted by Valenzuela City Government to give aid to displaced Marawi residents. Gatchalian, a former mayor and congressman of the city, also joined Valenzuela City officials during their first visit to evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur back in June.