Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Message delivered at the Launch of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch

Launch of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch
Remarks by Ambassador Amanda Gorely
25 July 2018 

Good Morning everybody. Task Force Bangon Marawi Assistant Secretary Castro; Marawi Sultanate League Sultan Nasser Sampaco, Chairman; Clan Representatives, Mindanao State University-Marawi Assistant Vice Chancellor Baunto, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology Chacellor Sukarno Tanggol; line agencies-Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Agrarian Reform; donor agencies; City Government Administrator Sultan Camid Gandamra; and the Province of Lanao del Sur; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. This is my first visit to Iligan so I want to say thank you very much for such a warm welcome to the beautiful city.

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to make some remarks at the launch of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch. Australia has been a strong supporter of development, peace and stability in the southern Philippines for over 20 years. As well as our longstanding support for education, we are funding development projects in conflict-affected communities in Muslim Mindanao. Through our program Australian Partnerships for Peace and our trusted partners like International Alert, we are supporting the peace process and helping to resolve conflict and build peace.

As the tragedy of the siege of Marawi unfolded last year, we wanted to do more. Once the scale of the devastation became apparent, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced, during her visit to the Philippines last August, 20 million Australian Dollars to support humanitarian assistance for those displaced from Marawi and support for the city’s recovery.

So in addition to our ongoing development programs, Australia is funding:

  • School feeding for 50,000 children and food assistance for families displaced from Marawi;
  • Education and child protection activities to support children affected by the conflict; and
  • Psychosocial services and livelihoods assistance.

We also approached our NGO partners, like International Alert, and invited them to submit ideas for additional activities to support the recovery of Marawi City and its residents.

Many of you would have already seen the documentary “Maratabat”, which will be screening as part of the programme today that was a film produced by International Alert with Australian support. It tells a very inspiring story about unsung heroes of the siege of Marawi who risked their own lives to form rescue squads who went unarmed into the conflict zone to escort citizens to safety without distinguishing between Christian and Muslim. I hope to get to meet people involved in that today.

Some of the support Australia is providing for the recovery of Marawi is branded as ‘technical assistance’ for the city’s reconstruction. While this may sound boring, but we recognise that in fact the reconstruction of a city like Marawi, goes beyond technical issues. Because Marawi is uniquely an Islamic city in the Philippines with a rich cultural history and deep clan ties, it is so much more than just an engineering exercise. So, the focus of our support has been to help ensure that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi recognises and respects the aspirations of its residents and their unique cultural heritage. It is in this spirit that Australia is supporting the establishment of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch.

This inclusive body will help monitor and assess the economic, social, conflict, and environmental effects of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City on the people and communities of the Most Affected Area, Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch will be composed of people who come from different sectors and walks of life, who come together to discuss the concerns of communities, and the effects and impacts on them of the reconstruction and rehabilitation.

It is our hope that the feedback from the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch can help: “conflict-proof” the economic, social, cultural, and political transformation of Marawi; enhance the benefits to local communities of reconstruction and rehabilitation activities; and manage the risks to community security and local cultures and practices.

I would like to congratulate International Alert and its partners in this enterprise: local, provincial, regional and national government officials; community leaders and organisations; and all those supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the unique city of Marawi.

It is my hope and that of the Australian Government, that our support for the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch can contribute to an inclusive recovery of Marawi City and ongoing peace and development in Marawi and in Lanao del Sur. It is my regret that I never got to visit Marawi before the siege, but I have seen photos and can appreciate what a beautiful and unique city it was. I have also seen photos of the terrible destruction and devastation that exists there now. It is my hope that one day I may get to come back here and to travel to Marawi, and to see the beautiful city, which has been contributed too by the community and reflects the hopes and aspirations of the people. Thank you.