MARAWI CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will fund the rehabilitation of Marawi City using money from “guys who didn’t turn over their proper taxes” like Mighty Corporation, the tobacco firm that has been slapped with a high-profile tax evasion charge.
The city’s commercial district, Banggolo, and nearby villages were practically flattened by fierce battles between the military and local armed groups linked with international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).
Duterte said he should get as much as P40 billion from Mighty Corporation alone. This is based on the 3 tax cases filed against the firm before the Department of Justice (DOJ). The cases involve as much as P37.88 billion.
Duterte claimed Mighty Corporation hired the law firm of his son-in-law in the hope that he could help the company in the case.
“In the initial days, they are offering P3 billion. I told [Finance Secretary] Sonny Dominguez, ‘How much are they worth for cheating on us?’ It has to be like P40 billion,” Duterte told the media during his latest visit to Marawi.
If Mighty Corporation is willing to cough up the amount to settle its case, government will only be P10 billion short of the promised funding of P50 billion to rebuild the city.
In July, Mighty Corporation offered to pay as much as P25 billion to cover its tax deficiencies, according to the Department of Finance. Back in March, Duterte threatened to arrest the owners.
“We will need a lot of money to rebuild. I have promised that to the people of Marawi and I will comply and abide by my promise. That’s why I’m leaving some of the military guys and even the military’s engineering brigade,” said Duterte.
Zia Alonto Adiong, the spokesman of the Lanao Del Sur Crisis Management Committee, had been pressing for the inclusion of the rehabilitation funding in the 2018 government budget currently being deliberated in Congress.
“Our concern right now is the budget. The budget for Task Force Bangon Marawi has yet to be identified. They have to identify budget for rehabiliation,” said Adiong.
“We maintain our position that the budget for rehabilitation should be separate and specifically dedicated to the rehabilitaiton of Marawi City and Lanao Del Sur,” said Adiong.
The military said the war in Marawi is nearing its end. High-profile hostage Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub was rescued Saturday night, September 16.