The World Bank on Tuesday committed to help the government rehabilitate the war-torn Marawi City in Mindanao, after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the city was liberated from terrorists.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a meeting in Washington D.C., World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva confirmed the institution’s commitment to work with the Philippine government in helping Marawi City rise from devastation.
Dominguez said the bank also committed to scale up support for peace-building efforts in Mindanao.
Georgieva said the World Bank, given its capability and expertise in rebuilding conflict-hit areas, could provide technical aid and other forms of assistance to the Philippines to help rebuild Marawi City.
Georgieva also welcomed Dominguez’s plan to tap domestic resources to raise funds for Marawi’s reconstruction, which she said, was “the right thing to do” and underscored the importance of “inclusive development” as a key aspect of the rehabilitation strategy for the city.
“We can only express all of our sympathy for what has been going on in Marawi,” said Georgieva during the meeting at the World Bank headquarters.
“As an institution that has committed to peaceful development and dealing with conflict situations, we would be honored in helping in terms of [re]building and engaging in any possible way what we can do in this situation,” Georgieva said.
Aside from Dominguez, other Filipino officials who attended the meeting were Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority.
Dominguez emphasized the need for World Bank’s technical advice and expertise in reconstructing the entire city of Marawi as the Philippines had very limited experience in handling a rehabilitation program of this magnitude.
“[The rehabilitation of Marawi] is a complicated situation,” said Dominguez, noting as an example the issue involving land titling for returning residents, many of whom are informal settlers living in multi-story structures.
“The World Bank has the experience in reconstruction. We want to rebuild the entire city and keep a part of it as a memorial,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez informed Georgieva that with the approval of President Duterte, the government opted to raise funds “domestically” for Marawi’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction program by, among others, issuing bonds.
“I would like to introduce the concept that the rest of the country is involved in Marawi, that we have to contribute ourselves to the reconstruction and we are going with the bond issue,” said Dominguez.
Georgieva said the Philippine government and the World Bank “need to work together” even as she cited the strength and resilience of Filipinos in dealing with conflict and tragedies.
The World Bank said on a statement on Aug. 31 that it would “scale up support for peace-building and development in Mindanao as part of the midterm adjustment of its country partnership strategy.”
“This scaled-up program for the entire Mindanao will focus on supporting the government’s program to raise agricultural productivity and improve connectivity from farm to market; boost education, skills, and employability of the youth; and help build resilient communities,” the bank said.
Dominguez and Pernia also provided Georgieva an update on the status of the ongoing infrastructure projects in the Philippines that were being implemented with the assistance of the World Bank, such as the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which is being co-funded with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit System.
Cayetano said several countries already provided assistance and committed to help Marawi, but a clear direction and detailed rehabilitation plan were needed to organize such efforts.
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