By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said he expects Mindanao to go about its business normally even after the President sought the extension of martial law until the end of this year, as the government is simply ensuring that the conflict in Marawi is played out.
“I don’t think there’s a consequential disruption of businesses in Mindanao. Life is still going quite normal, even in Cagayan de Oro which is quite close to Marawi. It doesn’t seem to be affected by what’s going on there. It’s business as usual, really,” Mr. Pernia told reporters in a news conference here yesterday, when asked on the effect of the proposed martial law extension.
He said that families and business owners may even feel safer, given the expanded military presence.
“So in fact, martial law is also an environment that will make people safe, and they will feel safe going about their business. So it’s not really a hindrance. It’s more of ensuring people that their life and businesses are not in danger,” he said.
“They just want to be very sure that no stone is unturned, as far as to make sure that these things are not repeated,” he added.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced that he wants to extend martial law in Mindanao up to Dec. 31. The initial proclamation was valid for 60 days after it was ordered on May 23.
Mr. Pernia said that Mindanao’s long term Regional Development Plan (RDP) remains intact, as the current clashes in Marawi are only temporary.
“In the national scheme of things, the impact of the Marawi crisis and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao (is limited)… I think the purpose of that extension is to make sure that there are no uprisings in other areas in Mindanao and make sure that the rehabilitation of Marawi will go smoothly without any interruptions. That is its main purpose,” said Mr. Pernia.
“In the bigger picture, it will not have any material impact or consequential impact in our development plan. For Northern Mindanao it will not be as consequential as stopping the RDP for Northern Mindanao,” he added.
Mr. Pernia has said that the Marawi conflict will not dampen economic output.
Philippine Statistics Authority data show that Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao accounted for 0.6% of gross domestic product in 2016.
However, the assessment of damage resulting from the occupation of Marawi has yet to be firmed up. Economic managers have said that they may have to await the conclusion of the siege before they start estimating the destruction of public and private property.
“We have to carefully and closely cost every destruction, everything that has been brought to the ground by the fighting. There is a lot of measurement to be done,” Mr. Pernia said.
An Executive Order that the Malacañang announced early this month bearing the title “Bangon Marawi” — a proposed blueprint for the rehabilitation of the city submitted by the Defense department — is awaiting Mr. Duterte’s signature.
The Department of Budget and Management has said that it has allocated an initial P15 billion for the Marawi City rehabilitation for the next two years, which is about three-fourths of Mr. Duterte’s earlier order of P20 billion.
About P5 billion will be initially released for rehabilitation, which will be taken from the 2017 calamity fund and savings from 2016, and will be followed by a P10 billion allocation that is sourced from the 2018 calamity fund.
The Chinese government has also donated P15 million for Marawi’s revival.
Mr. Pernia also said previously that multilateral lenders Asian Development Bank and World Bank are looking into providing technical assistance to execute the rehabilitation plan.
Out of the 4,895 projects worth P3.6 trillion lined up in the Three-Year Rolling Infrastructure Plan 2018-2020, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will get 955 projects worth P50.71 billion, Northern Mindanao will have 117 projects worth P50.32 billion, Caraga in eastern Mindanao will get 66 projects worth P28.81 billion, while Soccsksargen (consisting of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) will have 28 projects worth P7.8 billion.