Terror Fight, Rebuilding Marawi to Cost Philippines $1.1 Billion

  • Government may ask Congress for supplemental budget this year
  • At least 770 people killed in Marawi since May 23 conflict

Bullet-riddled houses in Marawi on Aug. 28.

Photographer: Ferdinand Cabrera/AFP via Getty Images

Rebuilding the besieged Philippine city of Marawi could cost about 56 billion pesos ($1.1 billion), according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Months of fighting between Philippine troops and Islamic State-led militants have left the once vibrant city on the southern island of Mindanao a virtual ghost town, displacing more than 230,000 people.

“There’s a need to rebuild the infrastructure, provide social assistance to those traumatized by the war, restock armed forces ammunition and replenish its funding,” Lorenzana said in a Sept. 5 interview, adding that he expects the conflict to be over within three weeks.

At least 770 people have been killed since fighting began on May 23 when hundreds of militants laid siege to the city, prompting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law. As the conflict dragged on, the cost has mounted and the most recent estimate is equal to more than a third of the budget for defense this year.

Lorenzana said current estimates indicated that 50 billion pesos would be needed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City. Up to 3 billion pesos had already been spent by the military since fighting began, and another 3 billion pesos for social welfare and other services, he said.

The government may need to ask lawmakers for an additional 10 billion peso-budget this year to start reconstruction. On top of that, an estimated 7.5 billion pesos is needed to hire 20,000 soldiers and 10,000 police, he added.

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He said that for every 10,000 soldiers, the government would need at least 2.5 billion pesos a year to train and equip, compared with the 4 billion peso projection of military chief Eduardo Ano.

The government this week announced it plans to sell 30 billion pesos of bonds in the fourth quarter to help fund Marawi’s reconstruction.

— With assistance by Cecilia Yap

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