CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, August 7— Next year’s national budget should include funds for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
This was the consensus of several Mindanaoan lawmakers as the Lower House has started its deliberations for next year’s national budget.
President Rodrigo Duterte first divulged the proposed P3.767 trillion national budget for 2018 during his second State of the Nation Address last July 24.
Dubbed as “The Budget that Reforms and Transforms”, it seeks to allocate the lion share of the budget to educatio—at P691.1 billion.
Rep. Juliette Uy, of the Misamis Oriental’s 2nd district, said she hopes a bigger chunk of that amount would be set aside to rebuild school buildings that were damaged in the ongoing fighting between the government forces and armed extremists in Marawi.
The Mindanao bloc at the House, Rep. Uy said, have agreed to give emphasis on the education sector so portions of it could be used in rebuilding school buildings and classrooms destroyed in the Marawi conflict.
“Although we did not promise, but we will try out best to help, especially in the allocation of the budget [for the construction of Marawi]. We, the Mindanaoan legislators, will fight for its approval,” Uy said.
Deputy House Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, of the 2nd district of South Cotabato, disclosed that on top of the budget for education, portions of the 2018 will be allocated to fund rebuilding efforts in Marawi.
Specific budgetary requirements may be laid out later after thorough assessment of the damage, Rep. Hernandez said, pointing out that the conflict is still ongoing.
However, Hernandez added that national agencies can now make their own estimates of the needed funding requirements based on the number of evacuees and how much the government has already spent for humanitarian assistance.
President Duterte has been quoted in multiple media reports saying the administration has allocated P20 billion for Marawi’s reconstruction.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in its website, said the release of the P20 rehabilitation package will be on the “multi-year scheme,” with P5 billion to be downloaded this year, another P10 billion for 2018, “and an additional budget yet to be determined for 2019.”
DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the initial fund of P5 billion for 2017 “will be sourced from the 2016 and 2017 NDRRM [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management] Fund with a combined remaining balance of around P7.4 billion and the 2017 Contingent Fund with a balance of almost P3.35 billion, both as of July 2017.”
For his part, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., of the city’s 2nd district, said there should be a continuing study on how to rebuild Marawi, specifically on the housing of its civilians and the establishments of the business sector.
In a separate interview, Sultan Nasser Sampaco, chairman of the Marawi Sultanate League, said the government should also consider providing financial aid to business owners who had lost their investments in the conflict.