08/23/2021, 09.55
PHILIPPINES
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Marawi: four years on from jihadists still without hospital

The government had allocated 62 million Philippine pesos for the construction of the Marawi General Hospital, but it has not been used. Maranao people continue to live in misery after the 2017 siege of the city. Some 126,000 people live in temporary housing and in times of pandemic a health facility is vital.

PHILIPPINES Send to a friend

Marawi: four years after jihadists still without hospital

The government had allocated 62 million Philippine pesos for the construction of the Marawi General Hospital, but it has not been used. Maranao people continue to live in misery after the 2017 siege of the city. Some 126,000 people live in temporary housing and in times of pandemic a health facility is even more necessary.

 

 

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - While the eyes of the whole world are (rightly) on Kabul, other news is in danger of escaping general attention. In Marawi, Philippines, a new hospital was expected to be built this year. But the government has given priority to the building of a sports stadium and a conference center, and the funds that had been allocated have returned to state coffers.

The Maranao people cannot explain how this is possible. Sixty thousand displaced families still live on the outskirts of the city after the 2017 siege of Marawi. 

For five months, government forces had clashed with the paramilitary Islamist groups of Abu Sayyaf and Maute. The battle had ended after the terrorist leaders were killed but leaving the city devastated and causing thousands of internally displaced people. And now with the pandemic, a hospital has become even more essential.

The Philippine Public Budget Control Commission has reprimanded the Department of Health for its failure to use the 62 million pesos allocated by President Rodrigo Duterte for the construction of the Marawi General Hospital. The Commission's report states that due to inaction, the funds returned to the coffers of the national treasury. 

Criticism has rained down from civil society on all sides. "I"It is disheartening to know that a much-needed project like the Marawi General Hospital did not push through because of inefficiency or lack of interest on the part of DOH," said Drieza Lininding, leader of the civil society watchdog Moro Consensus Group (MCG). "The construction of the hospital should have been the logical priority in Marawi," given that four years after the bombings that razed the center of the Muslim-majority city, "about 126,000 people are living in temporary shelters and a hospital for Marawi is much more important than building parks, sports stadiums or convention centers," Lininding added.

 "The long-awaited hospital was just another promise that remains unfulfilled because of the DOH leadership's lack of foresight. The priorities are very wrong," commented a doctor in Mandanao. Others pointed out that while thousands of Maranao people continue to live in misery, the government spent 400 million pesos to transport immense amounts of dolomite from Cebu to Manila Bay to create the illusion of a white beach. 

A deputy from the neighboring town of Cagayan de Oro, Rufus Rodriguez, recalled that the health department has also been slow in compensating health workers despite the availability of funds. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was summoned for the health department to expedite reimbursements for meals and transportation of health workers. "These checks were long overdue. We are already in August," Rodriguez said.

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