Gov't spent over P6 billion for Marawi crisis – DND
MANILA, Philippines – The 5-month Marawi crisis has cost the government over P6 billion, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Thursday, November 16.
During budget plenary deliberations in the Senate, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto asked the DND about the cost of Marawi as far as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is concerned.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, the sponsor of the DND budget in the Senate, said the AFP spent P3.29 billion from its regular fund and another P2.74 billion from the President's contingent fund, for a total of P6.03 billion.
Recto then estimated that the cost of destruction in Marawi amounts to more than P100 billion. (READ: Marawi shows PH 'woefully inadequate' vs terrorism – Lorenzana)
"Can you imagine if this happens to 10 or 12 more cities?" Recto asked. (READ: Marawi: 153 days and more)
He added: "I think that moving forward, this is a wake-up call to improve the capabilities of the AFP, the DND. It is more costly not to improve their capabilities and having another Marawi in several areas of the country."
Recto also asked about the P1.9-billion intelligence budget of the DND.
"Will we have assurance from the DND, assuming we increase their budget even further, na hindi na mauulit 'yung Marawi (that there will no longer be a repeat of Marawi)?" he asked.
Lacson said he could not assure Recto because "terrorism is something you cannot predict."
"I understand," Recto answered. "But the point is this: But that is the purpose of giving them intelligence funds and giving them the wherewithal."
To drive home his point, the senator went on to ask if there was any credible terrorism threat in the country today. Lacson responded by citing his own sources.
"I'm not relying on the military on this information, I got this from other sources: there's still a threat in the other areas of Mindanao from the ISIS," Lacson said, referring to the Islamic State group.
When Recto asked the AFP, Lacson answered for the military, saying the threat in Mindanao is "not really a major threat but the probability is there."
Lacson later clarified that the AFP is confident there will be no repeat of Marawi in the same magnitude.
"So we've learned our lesson as far as Marawi is concerned. And it's a painful and very expensive lesson," Recto noted.