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Gatchalian calls for expedited Marawi rehabilitation plan

SAGUIARAN, LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – Senator Win Gatchalian, together with local social welfare officials reach out to evacuees in this town’s Barangay Poblacion, 5 June 2017, after fleeing the crossfire between government forces and the Maute terrorist group in their homeland Marawi City. Most of Marawi City’s 200,000 residents have been displaced to various locations in the region, prompting Senator Gatchalian to call for a swift long-term recovery and rehabilitation program. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

As the battle between government forces and the Maute terrorist group rages on in Marawi City, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the national government to act swiftly in laying the groundwork for a long-term recovery and rehabilitation program which will revitalize the war-torn city and help its citizens rebuild their lives.

“When the government finally wins the battle against the Maute group, an even more challenging battle will begin: the fight to rebuild Marawi City. We have to start preparing for this formidable task as early as now,” said Gatchalian.

Proposed Senate Resolution No. 404, filed by Gatchalian on Thursday, urges the national government to get the ball rolling on the recovery plan by conducting an exhaustive assessment of the damage suffered by the city and its residents as a result of the conflict.

The resolution stresses that it “should be a unified mission by all concerned government agencies” to immediately launch “the most effective recovery and rehabilitation program to rebuild the city.” Therefore, the comprehensive assessment is designed to touch on key sectors: agriculture, industry, tourism, education, health, housing, cultural heritage, and public utilities and sanitation, among others.

Based on this assessment, the government will be armed with the information it needs to provide immediate humanitarian relief to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and formulate long-term plans to rebuild infrastructure and revive key sectors.

Noting that Lanao del Sur is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines, with an alarming poverty incidence of 71.9 percent among the population (more than three times greater than the national average of 21.6 percent, according to the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey), Gatchalian stressed that simply bringing Marawi City back to the status quo will not be enough.

“Beneath the rubble of this terrible tragedy lies a golden opportunity to build Marawi City into something greater than it ever was before. With this in mind, the government’s recovery and rehabilitation plan should aim to build superior infrastructure and increase access to and quality of basic social services, with the noble vision of eradicating poverty in the province as its end goal,” the senator said.

Drawing from conversations he had with Marawi residents during a recent visit to evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur, Gatchalian emphasized that the government must take concrete action now to begin rehabilitation efforts.

“The people of Marawi are not yet confident in the government’s commitment to help them rebuild their lives when the fighting is over. We need to expedite the formulation of the rehabilitation plan so that we can restore their faith in the promise of a peaceful and prosperous future for their homeland,” he said.