REBUILDING THE besieged Philippine city of Marawi could cost about P56 billion ($1.1 billion), according to Defense Secretary Delfin N. 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,” Mr. 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 R. 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.
Mr. Lorenzana said current estimates indicated that P50 billion would be needed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City. Up to P3 billion had already been spent by the military since fighting began, and another P3 billion for social welfare and other services, he said.
The government may need to ask lawmakers for an additional P10-billion budget this year to start reconstruction. On top of that, an estimated P7.5 billion is needed to hire 20,000 soldiers and 10,000 police, he added.
He said that for every 10,000 soldiers, the government would need at least P2.5 billion a year to train and equip, compared with the P4 billion projection of military chief Eduardo M. Año.
The government this week announced its plans to sell P30-billion of bonds in the fourth quarter to help fund Marawi’s reconstruction. — Bloomberg