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Gatchalian: Let’s develop Marawi into economic powerhouse

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Evacuees from strife-torn Marawi City, who sought refuge at the Maria Cristina covered court in Iligan City, listen to Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra (right, back facing the camera), 5 June 2017, during the visit of Senator Win Gatchalian for a humanitarian mission. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said a strategic approach is needed in jumpstarting the city’s local economy emphasizing Marawi’s potential as a sub-regional center and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian over the weekend urged the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to fast-track the formulation of a detailed plan-of-action to jumpstart the local economy of Marawi City, expressing optimism in the city’s potential to become a regional economic powerhouse.

“We don’t want a shotgun approach. We need a strategic approach in jumpstarting the local economy so that we can see changes after six months,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.

During the first hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Marawi the NEDA highlighted comparative advantages that can help Marawi City get back on its feet, such as its potential to become an education hub. As a sub-regional center the city hosts several educational institutions, including one of the constituent units of Mindanao State University.

NEDA also discussed unlocking the potential of Marawi as a hub for regional commerce and trade, citing the strong entrepreneurial spirit of the Maranao people. It also noted reported disruptions in logistic supply chains in neighboring areas during the midst of the siege, indicating that the city naturally plays a central role in the regional economy.

“Based on this feedback, it is clear that we can transform Marawi City into a regional economic powerhouse by making major investments in infrastructure projects targeted at unlocking the natural advantages of the area,” said Gatchalian, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Marawi.

With 78,466 families having been displaced due to the ongoing conflict in the city, the senator stressed the importance of implementing coordinated government policies to bring the local economy to greater heights.

“Fixing the landscapes, houses, buildings, and government facilities is only one aspect of rebuilding Marawi. Rebuilding the lives of the people who have been displaced will be the most difficult task. This is what we need to put emphasis on — the future of Marawi and its people,” he said.