AFP: Beware of scammers seeking funds for Marawi troops

(CNN Philippines, June 21) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is warning the public against scammers pretending to raise money for soldiers in Marawi.

During the Mindanao Hour on Wednesday, AFP Spokesman Restituto Padilla said they have monitored an increase in scammers organizing supposed benefit dinners and lunches for the troops.

"We would like to ask everybody to be on the lookout for these scammers and let your telcos know of the numbers they're using so that they can be blocked and cannot go on with their nefarious activities," Padilla said.

He added the only legitimate venue for donations intended for soldiers and evacuees are the two Land Bank accounts opened by the AFP.

As of June 20, donations for families of soldiers killed in action have reached ₱508,500 while donations for evacuees have reached ₱187,500.

Marawi rehab fund doubled

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has doubled the fund allocation initially eyed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

The government earlier pegged the amount at ₱10 billion but speaking to troops in Iligan on Tuesday, the President promised to set aside ₱20 billion.

RELATED: Duterte to Marawi evacuees: I am sorry this happened to you

Officials have yet to assess the damage in Marawi.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in increasing the budget, President Duterte may have considered some reports.

"Well, this may have been based on anecdotal - anecdotal reports. And although there's not a numerical report, it's based on observation," he added.

The AFP said troops in Marawi remain focused on clearing operations.

Officials have monitored "increasing willful and intentional arson activities" by rebels in different parts of the city.

"We are prioritizing the areas that are built up or heavily built up which means to say those that are constructed well and can withstand attacks and bombardments and potentially may have basement areas or hidden areas underneath that can protect them from any kind of assault from the air," Abella said.