Remarks by Lawrence Hardy II, Mission Director, Forum on Rehabilitating Marawi and Lanao

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Lawrence Hardy II, Mission Director, Forum on Rehabilitating Marawi and Lanao

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

Thank you all for joining us today. It is a great honor to be here with you, as we face a great opportunity to help rebuild the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

I represent the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID. USAID is the lead U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty and enable democratic, resilient societies to realize their potential. I bring you the greetings of the U.S. Ambassador, the Honorable Sung Kim.

Last May, the people of the Marawi City got caught in the middle a conflict that shocked the country and the region.

As a longstanding friend, partner and ally of the Filipino people, the United States was among the first countries that provided assistance to people affected by this conflict. The U.S. government, through USAID, initially provided access to potable water for 12,000 families staying in evacuation sites in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City. We also supplied 6,500 tablet arm chairs to schools in Mindanao where displaced Marawi students are currently enrolled.

Last September, Ambassador Kim announced the U.S. government’s commitment of more than 730 million pesos to directly assist with ongoing emergency relief operations and the longer term recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi city and the surrounding areas.

Currently, USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is working with humanitarian organizations to provide critical relief supplies to improve the conditions in evacuation centers and in host families, including programs to protect displaced women and children.

To support the early recovery, stabilization and rehabilitation of Marawi and the surrounding environs, USAID is working with the Philippine government to help restore basic public services, create jobs, revitalize the economy, and promote community reconciliation and alternatives to violent extremism.

USAID recognizes the vital role that the private sector plays in the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction of Marawi City. The participation of a vibrant and dynamic business community is crucial to jumpstart the economy of Marawi City and the entire province of Lanao del Sur.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises and large industries are key drivers of inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth. These businesses can contribute to stabilizing the local economy by providing investment, generating employment and reducing the opportunities for violent extremism. For instance, investing in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and energy can unleash the potential of Marawi City.

We are grateful that our Philippine government partners also understand the important role they have to bolster robust private sector participation by fostering a conducive and peaceful enabling environment for business. Urban planning will be key in defining the areas of investment and development, including plans to fund the reconstruction of vital infrastructure, such as roads, power and water.

This is the main reason why USAID supports this event—to heighten the support and enhance the collaboration of the private sector in the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi and Lanao. I am confident that the local chambers of commerce and other business associations have a significant role to play in the early recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi. The local business community should be the leaders in investing in and advancing sustainable economic development.

All of you here from the business community, with your rich knowledge of the region and business environment, have a very important role in identifying these initial priorities and opportunities, as well as lead the advocacy for critical infrastructure projects in the region.

I would like to thank the city of General Santos for hosting today’s important event. I would also like to acknowledge our partners from the chambers of General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, South Cotabato and Marawi, and the Mindanao Business Forum, with support from the League of Cities of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for organizing this forum. I am excited to hear about the development prospects in Mindanao and business opportunities in Marawi City and Lanao area. I look forward to knowing more about the Proposed Marawi Rehabilitation Plan and the perspectives of the people who are directly affected by it—the people of Marawi.

The challenges ahead may appear daunting, but are definitely not insurmountable. The U.S. government remains a committed partner of the Philippine government and the private sector in achieving inclusive economic prosperity in Marawi City and the entire province of Lanao del Sur. Thank you in advance for your close partnership as we together pursue a more stable and prosperous Philippines.

Daghang salamat at muli, Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: December 11, 2017

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