MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) on Thursday said the Marcos administration is fast-tracking the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi, the country’s only Islamic city, and usher in sustainable development and long-lasting peace to its residents.
OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. gave this pledge as national, local, and military officials observed the 6th year anniversary of Marawi's liberation from ISIS-inspired terrorist groups on Oct. 17.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., in his message delivered by the OPAPRU chief, honored 168 soldiers and police officers who perished during the siege and expressed his unwavering commitment and solidarity with the Maranao people.
“I am one with you in raising the banner of peace, inclusivity, and prosperity over this land, and over the next generations who will build and inherit its dynamic legacy,” Marcos said in his message.
“Rest assured, my dear fellow Filipinos, that this administration will strive to achieve the goals we have set for you and your city. The government will expedite the completion of all the Marawi rehabilitation projects and process all the claims with utmost urgency and responsiveness,” he added.
The five-month battle to free Marawi from its captors left the city in ruins and forced its residents to seek refuge in evacuation centers.
A massive rehabilitation and recovery program is carried out by the national government to bring the community back on its feet.
“In the face of extremism — of twisting hate and violence guided by personal and political interests — we witnessed something remarkable and inspiring: people looking out and caring for one another, regardless of their position in society, tribe, or religion,” the President said.
“Despite all the pain that we suffered and endured as a people, we still proudly celebrate this anniversary, for it brings to the fore something worth remembering and fighting for: that peace will always prevail. And it will prevail especially when we remain resolute in our commitment, solidarity, and faith for the nation,” Marcos said.
The President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, lauded the military and police for their “sacrifice and utmost dedication to their duty to protect the Maranao people, ensure their safety, and bring peace to their homeland no matter what the cost.”
“Here, we saw the steadfast dedication of our military and police forces who left their families behind to battle the terrorists, and reclaim the future the Maranao people rightfully deserve. Here, we saw how Muslims and Christians did not limit their understanding, kindness, and assistance to those of the same faith, but, instead, freely gave their compassion, support, and love for their fellow humans. Here, we saw what it meant to respect people’s diversity and unite for the good of all. Here, we saw what it means to be peace-loving Filipinos,” Marcos noted.
He also acknowledged passionate groups and individuals who "tirelessly work to uplift Marawi and make it the bustling city it used to be.”
“If the accomplishments, changes, and promises that come with this year’s celebration highlights anything, I hope that it underscores our unceasing dedication to help our Maranao brothers and sisters achieve peace, security, and normalcy. Much remains to be done despite all that we have accomplished. So, I hope that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to the noble tasks that still lie ahead of us,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. reaffirmed the military’s commitment to protect the Maranao people, as he cited the military’s efforts to help provide essential services to communities such as the construction of a water tank within the city’s most affected area.
“It brought many memories, not of death and destruction but of courage, compassion, and resilience. If you go to Marawi now, you will not see destruction but progress,” he said.
Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, meanwhile, said the people of Marawi have shown "strength and resilience”, which he described as characteristics that truly define the city.
“Together we will rebuild [the] spirit and soul with the heroism and resilience that unfolded, which brought us together as a community. With bayanihan and your unwavering commitment, together we can give a brighter future for Marawi City,” Gandamra said.
Lanao del Sur First District Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong, chair of the Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Recovery and chair of the Oversight Committee on Marawi victims’ compensation, said he will continue to push for an increase in funding for the city’s rehabilitation, as well as remuneration for residents affected by the siege.
Former Bangsamoro Transition Authority Member of Parliament Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, chair of the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB), said the PHP1 billion which has been allocated as compensation for the victims shall be fully disbursed by year end.
Dandamun-Latiph said Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman has been working closely with the MCB to ensure the victims’ claims are processed and approved as quickly as possible.
She said the DBM understands the importance of compensating the victims as soon as possible so that they can rebuild their lives. (PNA)