MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine government is not stopping the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City despite President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that he doesn't think the government should spend for the reconstruction of buildings in the city.
Marcelino Escalada Jr., general manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), clarified that the government would cover expenses for damaged public infrastructure in Marawi City, noting that an initial P13.7-billion funding has been set aside for the city's restoration.
"Task Force Bangon Marawi is very much determined to institute the rehabilitation of Marawi insofar as public utilities and public institutional infrastructure," Escalada told radio DZMM in an interview.
"All the public utilities will be covered by the Task Force Bangon Marawi."
Escalada said areas of the city that were heavily damaged by the siege remain inaccessible to residents, even as critics slammed the alleged slow pace of government-led rehabilitation.
Difficulties in clearing the main battle zone or "ground zero" are slowing rehabilitation efforts, he said.
He said the government was facing difficulties clearing the main battleground of the city known as "ground zero," affecting rehabilitation efforts.
In terms of housing, the government has constructed nearly 3,000 temporary shelters for displaced residents.
"The IDPs (internally displaced persons) will be allowed entry towards the end of the year on a gradual basis in the interest of their safety and security," he said.
The government, according to Escalada, plans to provide a total of 5,000 temporary shelters, and 2,000 permanent houses for free to displaced locals.
An estimated 2,000 residents have expressed interest to rebuild their homes on their own, Escalada claimed.
PRIORITY: PEOPLE OF MARAWI
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Monday the rehabilitation of the war-torn city would push through with its people as the priority.
Funds for the restoration of Marawi City are mainly for the people and not the businesses affected by the war, he said.
Over 1,000 people, mostly extremists, were killed in the 5-month siege that erupted between state forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists in May 2017.
The war forced President Duterte to place the entire island of Mindanao under martial law which will expire in December 2019.