Gov't needs more than ₱50 billion to rebuild Marawi

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FILE PHOTO. Banggolo (Bayabao) bridge, one of three key bridges in Marawi City, recaptured by the military last September 1.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Rehabilitating Marawi will cost billions of pesos, government officials said as troops start clearing operations in the war-torn city.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday agreed, the ₱50 billion initially pledged by the government is not enough to rebuild Marawi, the provincial capital of Lanao del Sur, that served as battle ground of government troops and terrorists for four months.

Three engineering battalions of the military are clearing some portions of the main battle area. The heavy fighting has left buildings in ruins, walls riddled with bullet holes.

"Sabi nga ni Lorenzana, ₱50 billion will not be enough to rebuild Marawi. I was there," Duterte said in a speech in Davao City. He was referring to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's statement during a Malacañang press briefing on Friday.

"After the demolition, where will you put all the debris? Because there will be tons and tons of debris inside….There has to be a budget for that because it will cost millions. The clearing alone will cost millions," Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee Spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong said.

He calls on Congress to pass a law indicating a budget for the rehabilitation of Marawi to make sure funds are available.

"The only way for Task Force Bangon Marawi to operationalize in its mandate to recover Marawi City is to have a specific and dedicated budget allocation that would be, can be properly addressed through congressional enactment to be part of the 2018 General Appropriations Act," Adiong said.

The President and Lorenzana both said the government needs more funds to rehabilitate the ruined city.

"When we went there last week with the President, early this week, I think ₱50 billion is not enough. Talagang grabe 'yung destruction. When you see when the fighting stops and we will, I will bring you there, you will see how, how damaged the area is," Lorenzana said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday.

Duterte visited Marawi for the fourth time last September 11, promising a vacation for the soldiers once the battle is over.

The Armed Forces earlier said the battle for retaking Marawi is nearing its end, but fighting is expected to intensify during the "final push."

Military funds depleted

Lorenzana said it will take authorities two weeks from now to accurately determine how much will be needed to rehabilitate Marawi.

Foreign aid, if not tagged by donors for a specific use, will be used as rehabilitation funds, Lorenzana said.

As of Friday, Australia has pledged ₱1 billion, U.S. ₱730 million, Thailand ₱100 million, China ₱85 million (with a specified ₱70 million for soldiers wounded in action and ₱15 million for Marawi rehabilitation), and the European Union ₱49 million.

Lorenzana confirmed the Marawi seige has also depleted the funds of the military, and that they are asking for an additional ₱2.5 billion from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

He said the military never received additional funding for the Marawi crisis since it began last May.

"Towards the end of this year, maybe towards this third, fourth quarter, medyo magigipit na kami (we are likely to face lack of funds) and already, we need replenishment," Lorenzana said.

The DBM has committed to giving the military additional budget, he added.

Duterte declared martial law throughout the island region of Mindanao on May 23, following clashes between government troops and the Maute terror group, appointing Lorenzana as martial law administrator.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles and Ina Andolong contributed to this report.