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Extending aid more important than extending ML – Recto

A prolonged Martial Law in Mindanao should be accompanied with massive reconstruction of "homes, livelihood and public works" destroyed by the fighting in Marawi City, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said.

"Whether we extend Martial Law or not, what is present in either scenario is the need to rebuild Marawi," Recto said.

In Recto's view, more important than a proclamation extending the period of a Mindanao-wide Martial Law is a program extending sustained aid to the affected communities.

"Mas importante ang Marshall Plan para sa Marawi kaysa sa Martial Law for the whole island," Recto said, referring to the massive American aid to rebuild Europe after World War II which has been the template for rehabilitating economies razed by strife. "Martial Law, especially one that is limited in scope and safeguarded by guarantees, can be used to destroy the enemy. But in rebuilding lives, you'll be needing another tool," he said.

"You need a rifle butt to knock down a barn door. But you need a hammer to build one," he added.

"After the smoke has settled, we should carpet bomb Marawi with aid, help and resources. The rebuilding will be done the same way destruction was wrought: house to house, block by block," Recto said.

Recto said he favors the imposition of a Congress-sanctioned Martial Law "limited to directly affected areas and with a shorter expiry date."

He urged MalacaAang to draft a "detailed and budgeted" Marawi reconstruction plan and make it one of the centerpieces of President Duterte's second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

"This should be the accompanying measure of the Martial Law declaration. Without it, the government might be accused of lacking a post-conflict strategy," Recto said.

So that reconstruction can begin soon, blueprints should have been drafted by now, Recto said.

"Pre-construction activities can begin, such as needs assessment. Before we can build, build, build, we should brainstorm first. And then with a plan to guide us, we can then bid, bid, bid," Recto said.

Recto said there are billions of pesos in unspent Calamity Fund waiting to be tapped to bring relief to displaced civilians and rehabilitate areas and commerce destroyed by fighting between government troops and terrorists.

In fact, some of the "calamity funds" are supposed to have been released in the beginning of the year to the five agencies tagged under the 2017 national budget as recipients of "Quick Response Fund" (QRF).

The latter, Recto said, serves as a standby emergency fund which a recipient agency can immediately use to respond to a natural or manmade calamity.

The P6 billion QRF is separate from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Fund, the Calamity Fund's official name, which has been appropriated P15.755 billion this year.

"There is a war being waged on two fronts: the military one and the humanitarian one. If we are airlifting troops to the frontlines, we must transport help to the civilians in the rear," Recto said.

The senator also urged MalacaAang to identify this early a "rehabilitation point person" for Marawi City.

There must already be some planning at this stage and maybe some preparatory activities so that when the smoke has cleared, the development people must be ready to move in, Recto said.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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