Updated 21:15 PM PHT Fri, October 27, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 27) — Several countries and international organizations have pledged to help rebuild war-torn Marawi, Malacañang said Friday.
These include Australia, Japan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Union (EU), World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Task Force Bangon Marawi said it is studying the offers to ensure compliance with the government’s policy on foreign aid.
“We understand that there are certain pronouncements made by the President regarding certain manners… Of course we’re duty-bound to follow those policies,” Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi Spokesman Kristoffer James Purisima said in a Malacañang press briefing.
“We will periodically release information as to which donations we’ve accepted,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear he does not want any aid with conditions, as he repeatedly lashed out at the European Union (EU) for alleged criticisms of the drug war.
The EU pledged up to P6 billion to help the displaced Marawi residents start small businesses.
Though the President has said he does not want aid from EU, there is no final decision yet, according to Task Force Bangon Marawi.
It said the government has already received assistance from Canada, China, Germany, Korea, India, Thailand, Singapore, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance, and USAID.
Details on how much each donor has given, in cash or in kind, has yet to be released.
Duterte earlier said rebuilding Marawi may cost more than P50 billion.
Help in military training
Apart from financial aid, there are also offers to help train the country’s troops in urban warfare, the kind of warfare that government troops had engaged in with the ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Marawi.
Armed Forces spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla said Australia is training a military battalion for this. This is the battalion that was first sent to Marawi when the crisis broke out on May 23, prompting Duterte to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.
He said the U.S., Russia, and China have also expressed willingness to assist the Philippine military with similar kinds of training.
“Although meron namang orientation at meron namang konting training ang ating karamihan na sundalo, bibihira at maliit lang ‘yung puwersa natin na talagang ganap na handa sa ganitong mga pagkakataon (Although our soldiers have some training in urban warfare, only a small part of our force is really equipped),” Padilla said.
Terrorists may no longer be in Marawi, after soldiers killed 920 of them, but no less than President Duterte warned that “lone wolf” attacks may happen across the country. A total of 165 soldiers and 47 civilians were also killed in Marawi.
Padilla said “lone wolves” may come from the list of suspected rebels and terrorists that the government ordered arrested since June. Of some 300 names in the list, only about 100 are in custody.
“Remember, they still remain at large. So they still pose a threat,” Padilla said.
The military calls on Filipinos to report any suspicous effort by extremists to recruit followers via social media, to prevent any terror attack.