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Govt kicks off huge Marawi rehabilitation effort

Extra military units arrive to begin US$1 billion program to lift conflict-torn city out of the rubble

Govt kicks off huge Marawi rehabilitation effort

Soldiers in Iligan City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao unload heavy construction equipment bound for war-torn Marawi. (Joint Task Force Marawi photo)

September 12, 2017

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Additional military units have arrived in war-torn Marawi City on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao to begin the government’s "massive" rehabilitation effort, officials said on Sept. 11.

Soldiers unloaded over the weekend construction and engineering equipment in Iligan City, where thousands of displaced folk shelter in tent cities, Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the joint military task force battling IS-inspired rebels said.

The Defense Department-led rehabilitation force will prioritize the building of temporary shelters on a nine-hectare site and the reconstruction of damaged mosques in the Islamic city, Brawner said.

"It is going to be massive, the devastation is massive," Brawner said.

Since the conflict erupted on May 23, almost half a million residents and business owners have fled Marawi. Eight hundred people, including more than 140 soldiers and 45 civilians, have died in the fighting.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week said rehabilitation costs could hit $1 billion, with $400 million reserved for the first two years.

Brawner said troops are still trying to clear militants from 300 structures and who still hold around 40 hostages, including Marawi prelature vicar-general, Father Teresito Soganub.

President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected overtures by militants to swap hostages for safe passage out of the area.

Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said almost 800 displaced residents have received training in new skills and businesses.

The government has also provided raw material and other inputs for food, textile and other craft enterprises, to spur the local economy as reconstruction work plods on.

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