Duterte vows to bring Marawi City back to former glory, but says it 'may take some time'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — Three years after Marawi City's liberation, President Rodrigo Duterte said the government intends to spend until the war-torn city is fully rehabilitated, but that more time would be needed for a return to normalcy.

In his address to the nation on Monday, Duterte responded to critics hitting the ongoing rehabilitation efforts, saying "Marawi is not that easy."

Duterte noted that besides the clearing of explosives which is taking a while, there remain several issues to solve within the area, including problems with land ownership among residents.

"There are the individual titles na nag-o-overlap (that are overlapping) and so many things to solve locally. And the problem is about Marawi community itself, hindi sa gobyerno (not the government)," he said.

The President assured, however, that funds are available to rebuild Marawi to its former glory.

"It's not easy to do that, it might take some time before we can really reach the ideal place you'd call home," he continued.

Duterte also slammed those questioning the liberation of Marawi, saying the government had already freed the city from terrorist groups Maute and ISIS.

"In the meantime, ito mga tao na nagrereklamo, sabi (these people complaining and saying) there is no liberation of Marawi yet, look…We liberated Marawi against the terrorists Maute and ISIS," Duterte said.

"If you're talking about liberation, tapos na 'yan (that's already done) at the expense of blood from both sides," he added.

Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi from Islamic State-linked fighters in October 2017, some five months after the war broke out.

On Sunday, the third anniversary of the Marawi liberation, Vice President Leni Robredo called for the fast-tracking of rehabilitation efforts, noting that thousands of residents remain displaced following the deadly 2017 siege.

"Liberation entails much more than silencing the gunfire," Robredo said, pointing out how the city has yet to reclaim a "semblance of normalcy."

Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairperson Eduardo del Rosario earlier said the government is now working double time to meet its December 2021 deadline to reconstruct public facilities in Marawi which was "somewhat slowed down" by the current health crisis.