Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pushed for an increase in the rehabilitation fund for war-torn Marawi City in the 2021 national budget, saying the current allocation was “grossly insufficient.”
Citing his own office’s research, Drilon estimated the damage caused by the 2017 terrorist siege of Marawi to be worth P70 billion. During the Senate’s plenary debates on the P4.5-trillion proposed 2021 budget on Monday, November 16, Drilon noted that the P5 billion allocated for rehabilitation efforts in 2021 would hardly be sufficient.
With only P3.5 billion allotted for Marawi’s recovery in the 2020 national budget, government efforts for the city have largely depended on donations and foreign aid, the opposition senator pointed out.
“The rehabilitation fund is grossly insufficient. Our countrymen there have been suffering for the last two years. From the reports that we received, they are really complaining about the very slow rehabilitation that is being undertaken. Indeed, that is confirmed now by the meager budget for next year,” Drilon said.
“We are still talking about a P48 billion balance out of a budget of P60 billion to rehabilitate Marawi. Would the current and the budget next year be enough to complete the rehabilitation by December 2021 as publicly committed by officials in charge of Marawi?” he added.
Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chairperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi, earlier said the government aims to finish the rehabilitation of Marawi City by December 2021.
Drilon urged Senator Sonny Angara, chairperson of the Senate committee on finance, to increase the allotment for Marawi’s rehabilitation in the 2021 national budget bill. Angara agreed.
Drilon also sought an increase in the 2021 budget of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which currently stands at P21 billion. He noted how the NDRRMC budget declined steadily each year from P38 billion in 2016 to P16 billion in 2020.
This would not do for a disaster-prone country like the Philippines, he said. He echoed a proposal by other opposition senators and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri to use at least a portion of the P19-billion proposed budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict for relief operations in areas devastated by recent typhoons.
“There is openness and willingness on the part of this representation to hear out ideas laid out by both the minority leader and majority leader,” Angara said in response to Drilon’s proposal.
Changes to the Senate’s version of the budget bill will be made in the period of amendments, expected later in November. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.