KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 06 July) — Residents displaced by the Marawi siege four years ago called on Senator Manny Pacquiao to scrutinize the ongoing rehabilitation of the war-torn city, which allegedly stinks of corruption, to back up his corruption charges against several government agencies.
Drieza Lininding, chair of the Marawi-based Moro Consensus Group, said Monday that Pacquiao could uncover cans of worms in the way the public funds and projects are implemented to restore the country’s lone Islamic city.
“Senator Manny, take a look at the Marawi rehabilitation and you will discover many anomalies, the reason why four years after the siege, residents have yet to return to their homes,” he said in a statement in Filipino.
The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), which is composed of various government agencies, has been tasked to rehabilitate Marawi, scene of a five-month fierce urban warfare between government forces and the Islamic State-aligned Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in 2017.
The Marawi siege displaced at least 350,000 civilians and destroyed the core of the city, which to date remained off-limits to residents due to the ongoing construction works.
Lininding said Pacquiao could uncover many irregularities “if he will investigate each agency” under the TFBM, which is headed by Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, the country’s housing czar.
For instance, a government agency whose mandate is on housing is implementing a road project, said Lininding, apparently referring to the National Housing Authority.
Lininding alleged that a single contractor, which he did not identify, had been favored to implement a billion-peso worth of project for the rehabilitation of Marawi.
“These are just the tip of the iceberg. You will discover many more anomalies in Marawi. Even if you wake up late to the truth, we believe that you can be a big help to fight corruption,” he told Pacquiao.
The boxing icon and lawmaker recently claimed that corruption has worsened under the current administration, earning for him the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte challenged Pacquiao to prove his allegations.
Pacquiao identified the alleged “corrupt agencies” as the departments of Health, Social Welfare and Development, Energy, and the Environment and Natural Resources.
Pacquaio said he was informed that up to P10.4 billion in aid to the poor affected by the COVID-19 pandemic had gone missing from the DSWD, which denied the allegation.
The Duterte camp downplayed Pacquaio’s exposes as “politicking”.
Pacquaio dismissed insinuations his exposes were connected to his rumored plans to run in the 2022 presidential elections. He cleared Duterte of involvement in the alleged irregularities.
Pacquaio, who had a falling out with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, flew to the United States to train for his upcoming fight against welterweight champion Errol Spence in August in Las Vegas. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)