My Legal Point
By Atty. Bayan G. Balt
Much has been said to bring back our Internal Displaced Persons (or IDPS) to their homes in the most affected area of Marawi City or (MAA), yet not even a few percent have returned back, despite alleged encouragement by our local leaders.
After our government forces successfully drive the Maute inspired ISIS terrorists, sometimes in October 2017, the government announced to clear the once battle ground zero of unexploded bombs for the safety of returning IDPS. Unfortunately, it took almost three years for the contractor to finished their work to disposed unexplode bombs. In Laos likewise ravaged by war for decades, where thousands of unexploded bombs are scattered in the war zone, have successfully disposed unexploded bombs in less than a year, says a ranking DPWH official, using modern technology like drone that can identify the location of the bombs in the monitor and extracted immediately.
On several occasion, the authorities have announced its program for the return of IDPS in the GZ, they called “Kambalingan” without developing the area inhabitable for human being. “I prefer to live in the Amazon rainforest rather than the GZ” as one resident told this column. He was referring to the GZ lacks of electricity and waters till now. “In the Amazon River, there are electric fly during night time while you can fetch waters in the nearby river”, he added. While several rehabs finished Mosques including the Marawi Grand Mosque remain closed to the devotees due to lack of electricity and waters. Adding to this sordid state are various documents such as tax clearances, title and building permit required of them by the City government, worst real property taxes has reportedly doubled.
What is then left for the poor IDPS? They will allegedly continue as milking cow of politicians. Permanent shelters are supposed to benefit the displaced, yet it was reportedly awarded to favor voters, further there are 200 e-strikes (motorcycle) donated by the Department of Energy to Marawi City (Jan. 12, 2018) as what DOE says, “the residents must recover from the ashes of terrorist’s siege”, however, they are likewise awarded to alleged favor supporters. The City government can do a better job if they openly publish the beneficiaries of its shelter and e strikes awardees.
Some poor IDPS who has nothing in their pockets has to engaged in small business to support their family. They are simply reportedly exploited owing to their weakness. One IDPS who put up a small sari-sari store told this column that he is being charged P2, 260.00 minus business tax to obtain a permit to operate from the city government. These payments are itemized as MIP P800, Occupation P100, Signage P60, BFC, P800, Business plate P500. It was reportedly signed by one Anggay Abdullah. We call on the city government to explain to the public the meaning of these fees enumerated above, simply in Manila, they will charge small business starting fee to operate a registration of P500. and another P30. as Documentary tax fee.
All these alleged irregularities must be fairly and justly investigated by the authorities in line with BARMM’s moral governance, otherwise our IDPS who lost their homes, livelihood and loved ones will remain under the mercy of shark eating officials. Transparency is always an ingredient of democratic governance, while Islam tell us, “that the truth must be said”, the prophet of Islam (pbuh) once said that, “Good governance is achievable through the application of Islamic view of accountability and transparency”.
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*Atty. Bayan G. Balt is the former Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP).