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Marawi to be Rebuilt during Term of Duterte: Palace



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Efforts to rebuild Marawi City is now going full blast as the government aims to restore the battle-scarred city before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term in 2022, Malacañang said Wednesday.

“The goal is to completely rebuild Marawi during the term of President Duterte,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said during a press briefing in Marawi City.

In the press briefing, Roque, along with officials of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) headed by Housing And Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Leonardo Guerrero, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra as well as other national and local officials, reported on the accomplishments and plans on rebuilding Marawi.

The Palace official said that TFBM is now conducting post conflict needs assessment (PCNA) in areas affected by the conflict as part of the process of coming up with the initial amount needed to rebuild and restructure Marawi.

In the meantime, the government is building temporary and permanent housing units for displaced Marawi residents.

“The government will build housing units in an area which is only 3.5 kilometers away from the most affected area, and we will be building no less than 6,300 temporary housing units for everyone. We will be building 2,700 permanent housing, and these are for families who in the first place did not have homes prior to the siege of Marawi. And we will also be providing the cost of the housing components for those who have land, but whose houses were destroyed as a result of the conflict,” the Palace spokesperson said.

He added that San Miguel Corporation has also committed to build 5,000 permanent housing in a 33-hectare lot made available by the local government unit.

Roque said President Duterte is set to turn over the first batch of 500 temporary housing units before Christmas.

The government officials also led on Wednesday the groundbreaking ceremony for a housing project intended for the faculty and employees of the Mindanao State University.

“The government through the HUDCC and Pag-Ibig and MSU will be constructing 1,000 housing units for MSU employees and a further 100 units for the executives of the university. This forms part of the overall mission to rebuild Marawi,” Roque said.

The government also committed that in the process of rebuilding Marawi, there would be regular and constant consultations with the stakeholders.

“We had also just come from the first ever dialogue with stake holders ‘no, where Secretary Del Rosario met with stakeholders, Ulamas, Sultans, civil society, women’s groups, academe in discussing the rebuilding of Marawi. There was a commitment on the part of Bangon Marawi, that in rebuilding Marawi, government will consider the religious beliefs and convictions of the residents of the Marawi,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Del Rosario said that TFBM is currently focused on assisting returning evacuees while government agencies complete the PCNA and the subsequent comprehensive plan to rebuild Marawi.

“In the meantime, all our government agencies involved in Task Force Bangon Marawi will focus on initial recovery interventions, and this is what we call early recovery stage, and we will be assisting especially those who left Marawi City that upon their return, they will have something to work on,” he said.

Government officials said that more than 40,000 evacuees were already permitted to return to their homes in 17 barangays (villages) that were initially cleared by the AFP.

That number is expected to increase by the day as more areas are declared clear by the military.

The head of the TFBM said that upon returning, each family was given 17 days’ worth of food packs, a sack of rice and PHP 5,000.

“The food assistance will continue depending on the needs of the family upon the assessment and recommendation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),” De Rosario said.

The assistance will be provided to all returning families as they start rebuilding their lives back in the city.

Del Rosario said the government would also be providing livelihood programs as well as credit and loan facilities for returning traders and farmers.

An estimated 45 percent of the population of Marawi are traders while another 40 percent are farmers.

He said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a program for traders to have easy access to credit while the Department of Agriculture (DA) is also providing micro-financing support to farmers.

“I think, PHP 5,000 to PHP 10,000. And they will be providing seedlings. DA personnel are already going to the barangays to determine the needs of our farmers,” Del Rosario said.

As for the most affected area, the term now used for the 200 – 250 hectare area that was “ground zero” or the “main battle area” comprising 24 barangays, Roque said the plan is to flatten the area and transform it into a modern district.

“The plan is, we will flatten all buildings in the most affected area, and we will build new infrastructures from two-lane highways to four-lane highways. We will have underground electric cables instead of the usual posts, and we will make a promenade in the Agus River which will become a prime tourist attraction,” Roque said.

Developers have estimated that it would take at least four years to flatten the area and build the new infrastructures.

On the legal front, Roque reported that a total of 37 cases  involving rebellion  and  violation of  other special penal laws had been filed in court against members of the Maute and those in conspiracy with them.

He said that his office is coordinating with the Justice Department’s special committee of public prosecutors formed by Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to prosecute individuals for violations of the International Humanitarian Law in connection with Marawi.

“I was informed that some of the cases that are being investigated now by our special panel of prosecutors with specialized training on IHL, include taking of hostages, wanton killing, kidnapping for ransom and cruel and inhumane treatment including cases of beheadings and recruitment of children as combatants,” Roque said.

He said all of these efforts show the people of Marawi that rebuilding their once-bustling city is a priority of President Duterte.

“To the residents of Marawi, sagot po kayo ni Presidente Duterte. Babangon po ang Marawi,” Roque said. (PNA)

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National News

Challenges Facing Filipinos Overseas Tackled at Global Online Confab



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Senior officials of the government and private institutions will tackle different problems and challenges facing overseas Filipinos (OFs), including persistent illegal recruitment,  at a global conference for overseas Filipinos to be held here and shown live on YouTube on Feb. 24 and 25.

The “2018 Global Conference of Overseas Filipinos & Livelihood/Investments Exhibition” also aims to help OFs identify which profitable livelihood projects that they can put up back home to secure the financial security of their families.

Between January and November last year, USD28.24 billion (PHP1.41 trillion) were sent home by overseas Filipinos through banking channels, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Despite their huge earnings, many OFs have not put up sound investments, with scores still taking risks with illegal networking schemes.

“While overseas Filipinos are often hailed as modern heroes (bagong bayani) for sending home over USD20 billion a year, it is ironic that they are beset by numerous problems. This global conference aims to tackle these problems and help identify solutions to them with the assistance of government and private institutions,” said Alliance of Overseas Filipinos for Change (AOFC) President Juanito Concepcion.

Investments and livelihood are, therefore, a major focus of the conference organized by a Hong Kong-based NGO, AOFC, with LINKPAD Inc. in Manila as its secretariat and marketing arm.

 Further details about the event and sponsorships can be obtained from LINKPAD at (02) 734-6300, (02) 788-6521, and (02) 500-0040, 0908-6199582; 0917-5932000 or at

Up to 10,000 overseas Filipinos  gathered in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and in different other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America are expected to watch online this conference that will be shown live on YouTube and Facebook Live. (PR)

About 500 local participants — comprised of visiting OFs, OFs who have returned home for good, family members of OFs, officials of government agencies and private institutions relevant to OFs and other migration and development stakeholders — are also attending the conference.

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PH Top Officials Discuss Names on 5 Features in PH Rise




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Various government officials will meet to discuss possible Filipino names to give to the five underwater features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) named by China.

In a message Wednesday, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that this matter would be discussed by him, National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon and other members of the Cabinet.

“Pag-uusapan pa namin ni NSA (Esperon) and ibang Cabinet members. (We will talk about it with NSA and other Cabinet members) As for me, I would also give these features Philippine names,” he added.

The DND chief made this statement after maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal revealed that China successfully named five undersea features in the region, all within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, as approved by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2017.

Three of the features were reportedly “discovered” during a survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in 2004 and the names were submitted to IHO for consideration in 2014.

The remaining two features were “discovered” by the same ship but proposals for names came in 2016. The features named are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts said to be within 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, and the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles.

The other two named Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount forms the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, said Batongbacal.

On Wednesday, Malacanang said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing already raised the subject with China.

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National News

‘Basyang’-Affected Families Now at 37k




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The number of families affected by Tropical Depression Basyang has now climbed to 37,138 or 152,025 persons residing in 387 barangays in 15 provinces in western, central and eastern Visayas, and Caraga, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its Thursday update.

Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director, said 10,307 families or about 40,089 persons have sought refuge in 194 evacuation centers, while another 470 families or 2,282 individuals are being aided outside evacuation centers.

Jalad also said that 350 houses have been damaged, 66 totally and 284 partially, in western and eastern Visayas, and Caraga.

A total of PHP2,801,016.94 worth of assistance has been provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units to affected families in Western Visayas and Caraga.

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DA Rolls Out ‘Bigas Ng Masa’ Affordable Rice Program




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The Department of Agriculture (DA) set its “Bigas ng Masa” affordable rice program rolling on Wednesday, initially launching it in Quezon City and shortly farming it out to its regional offices nationwide.

To make it more accessible to more Filipinos, the DA said Bigas ng Masa outlets can be set up in the regions, where farmers’ cooperatives can directly sell the affordable rice to consumers.

“We’ll help market their rice,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a media briefing Wednesday.

Aside from helping farmers earn, he said such marketing assistance under the Bigas ng Masa would eliminate price-raising layers of middlemen and other players crowding the supply chain, so consumers can buy rice that’s generally cheaper than what’s sold in the market.

With Bigas ng Masa, DA said consumers can buy quality rice at PHP38 per kilogram.

The DA assured looking into interventions that would further lower rice prices without draining the farmers’ income.

Piñol expressed disappointment over reported increases in commercial prices of rice after reports that the National Food Authority has dwindling rice stocks.

He said this should not be the case, as rice harvest in the country even increased last year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The DA and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) assured the country’s rice situation is under control, noting “there’s enough rice for everybody” for 92 days straight.

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