President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said government is speeding up restoring Marawi City, 4 years after it was liberated from allegedly Islamic militants.
During the fourth anniversary commemoration of the liberation, Duterte commended connected agencies and local government officials in rebuilding efforts.
"I congratulate and commend the Task Force Marawi as well as the local officials and also the partners for working together to rehabilitate the city," the president said in a speech. "This place holds cultural significance in the lives of the Maranaos."
"By rebuilding the lives of the displaced . . . restoring damaged properties and revitalizing socio-economic activities you have stayed true to you commitment as agents of progress."
He also paid tribute to the members of the police force and the military who won back the city from the heavily armed terrorist militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group, as well as foreign and local fighters that had pledged their allegiance to ISIS.
Marawi was ravaged by a five-month-long armed conflict between Muslim militants and government forces.
More than 12,000 troops were deployed to fight and remove at least 500 militants.
On October 17, 2017, a day after the deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the city was declared "liberated from terrorist influence".
However, the armed conflict that also involved aerial bombing of the city displaced approximately 300,000 people leaving many of them homeless and without property. The Asian Development Bank estimated the total losses from the siege to be about $348 million, while at least $1.5 billion is needed to rehabilitate Marawi.
"Let me take this opportunity to assure the people of Marawi that the government is doing its best to expedite the completion at the soonest possible time," said Duterte.
"Rest assured that this government, this administration, remains steadfast in securing our nation against terrorism, violence and other lawless elements."
"We in the government are strongly committed to bring back the city's glory."
Later in the day, Duterte led the oath-taking of new members of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino—Lakas ng Bayan at Iligan Medical Center College in Iligan city, Lanao del Norte.
The President promised support to the members, mostly local government candidates, whom he also expects to push the party's objectives of putting the country and the people's welfare above anything else. — With a report from Jeffrey Hernaez, ABS-CBN News