House approval of Marawi Compensation Bill hailed

By Ali G. Macabalang

MARAWI SIEGE. Some destroyed commercial buildings in the 2017 Marawi Siege’s most affected area. (Online generated photo)

MARAWI CITY – Stakeholders from public and private sectors have hailed the House of Representatives’ approval of the bill seeking to indemnify the loss or destruction of residential and commercial properties in the five-month battle of the 2017 siege here, hoping the Senate will pass its own counterpart measure soon.

Lanao del Sur Bombit Alonto-Adiong, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra and outspoken evacuees’ representative Drieza Lininding took turns in praising the “long awaited but worthy” legislation, which overwhelmed momentarily their contrasting perceptions over the pace of physical rehabilitation efforts in the most affected area (MMA) and mode of bringing back displaced residents to their respective homes.

An online-generated photos the House of Representatives in session.

Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW), an independent multi-stakeholder dialogue group, commended the House leadership and members “for taking this long-needed and decisive step towards recognizing the victims of the war in Marawi who deserve just compensation.”   

The MRCW particularly cited Anak Mindanao Partylist Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan, Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, Basilan Rep. Mujiv S. Hataman, Lanao del Norte 1st District Representatives Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo and Ansarrudin Abdul Malik A. Adiong, and Lanao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Yasser Alonto Balindong for “consistently championing the plight of the people of Marawi.”

MARAWI REHAB. Soldiers guard the ongoing infra projects in the lakeside of the 2017 Marawi Siege Most Affected areas (MMA). Credit to Ferdinandh Cabrera.

It assured to “remain vigilant and steadfast in lobbying” the passage of the Senate counterpart espoused by Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Francis Tolentino, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence Go, and Imee Marcos via Bill 1395 in 2019 and 2020, and mentioned Senator Risa Hontiveros for her intent to file a similar measure.

House Bill 9925, known as the proposed Marawi Compensation Act, was approved unanimously on final reading last Monday, Sept. 6 by 197 lawmakers without dissenting or abstention vote.

The bill seeks to provide compensation to qualified claimants for the loss or destruction of their residential and private properties as a result of the five-month battle between state forces and terrorist groups that ensued from the May 23, 2017 here.

An estimated 95 percent of the infrastructure was damaged in the 24-village MMA and is “one of greatest challenges” facing the government’s rehabilitation efforts here, according to bill proponents.

“The armed fighting not only created housing problems but livelihood issues of the residents, as well. It is, therefore, the duty of the State to address the loss and destruction of property of Marawi City residents,” Hataman said.

Apart from indemnifying damaged properties, the bill also proposes to institutionalize the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to attain its objectives set in the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program (MRPP).

It proposes a compensation body under the TFBM to receive claims and resolve claims filed within 30 working days.

Under HB 9925, lawful owners or possessors who have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of the destruction of their private property due to the siege may file a claim with the compensation subcommittee.

The compensation shall be based on current market value of improvements and structure as determined by a state agency or financial institution knowledgeable on property appraisal, or an independent property appraiser.

Though no specific amount of compensation is mentioned in the bill, the budgetary requirement will be sourced from the following year’s General Appropriations Act upon ratification into law, Hataman earlier told the Bangsamoro Press Corps’ weekly “Tapatan” Forum.

President Duterte created the TFBM under Administrative Order No. 3 issued on June 28, 2017 to ensure convergent efforts among national agencies and the local government units in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

Rehabilitation funds and efforts are currently focused on building common-use infrastructure like roads, a park, health centers, and public market which Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, TFBM chair, assured for the nth time to be completed  by the end of the year.

Some 2,000 houses are being built but only for families who used to live in riverside and lakeside communities which are now “no build zones” and in state-owned lands that are now used for public infrastructure.

The media has repeatedly asked TFBM officials and other authorities on who would track down IDPs still scattered in different parts of the country, but drew no categorical answer. (AGM)

(Attached are online-generated photos of the House of Representatives in session, some destroyed commercial buildings in Marawi siege’s most affected area, and of ongoing infra projects in the lakeside MMA. Credit to Ferdinandh Cabrera.)

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