News of Marawi, one of the largest cities in Mindanao, an island in south Philippines, being liberated from militants affiliated to Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), is a welcome development. The breakthrough came following a five-month standoff between the authorities and terrorists. Reports of sporadic incidents of violence continuing after the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared ‘liberation of Marawi’ have been attributed to mopping up and clearing operations. The crisis that began earlier this year, when black flags associated with Daesh suddenly appeared on several rooftops of Marawi, has taken a severe toll on the city that was already notorious for gangster violence, rampant crime, arms smuggling and a high incidence of poverty. Gunmen fought government troopers and a relentless US-backed bombing campaign for months before the authorities were able to zero-in on them and regain control of the city.
With most of the city destroyed and its infrastructure in tatters after months of intense fighting, Manila must move fast to rebuild Marawi. The Philippines will be relying on technical advice and expertise of the World Bank for the reconstruction of the city. Before that, the authorities should aim to allocate nearly 10 billion pesos (Dh741.6 million) towards rebuilding efforts. The Philippines’ Department of National Defence (DND) is expected to lead the “Bangon Marawi” recovery effort, which aims to bring the situation in the strife-torn city back to normal as soon as possible. This will involve the departments of Public Works and Highways, Education, Social Welfare and Development, Energy, and Trade and Industry. While all this is quite commendable, Duterte must also seek to reach out to the citizens of the province. That will help in aiding the healing process — an important step towards restoring full normality.