Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero’ residents declare 91-B peso damages due to siege

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Lanao del Sur – Marawi City Chapter has submitted to the House Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation documents pertaining to the claims of 15,102 residents displaced from Ground Zero of a total of 91.6 billion pesos in damages brought about by the five-month war between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies in 2017.

The consolidated Marawi Reparation bill proposes a budget of 30 billion pesos or merely a third of the 91 billion peso damages declared by residents of the 250-hectare, 24-barangay Ground Zero, the former battleground between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies, now referred to as the Most Affected Area (MAA).

A portion of Marawi City’s Ground Zero with Lake Lanao in the background. MindaNews file photo. May 2018 by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

In his letter dated March 20, 2019 and submitted during the public hearing at the provincial gym in Marawi City on the same date, IBP-LDS President Atty. Aminoden Macalandap informed Rep. Makmod Mending, Jr., chair of the Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and members – Representatives Tom Villarin, Amihilda Sangcopan, Cristina Puno, Khalid Dimaporo and Ansaruddin Adiong – that the IBP chapter conducted a “series of legal missions” from September 17 to October 25, 2018, with the Legal Office of the Provincial Capitol and in partnership with the Regional Human Rights Commission of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Public Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice, Integrated Sharia of the Philippines, Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic and other volunteer lawyers.

As a result, he said, a total of 15,102 IDPs, consisting of homeowners, sharers and renters in ‘Ground Zero’ filed affidavits declaring a total of 91,196,450,485 pesos in damages.

Before the siege began on May 23, 2017, ‘Ground Zero’ was the cultural and commercial district of the city and home to some 27,000 families (at least 11,000 homeowners and the rest classified as “sharers and renters”) in 24 barangays, according to the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM).

President Rodrigo Duterte on October 17, 2017 declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation.”

TFBM chair and Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario assured Marawi’s Ground Zero residents during the consultations and public hearing last week that clearing of unexploded ordnance and debris will be done by August 30, to allow residents to return to repair or rebuild their homes by first week of September.

He vowed those in the “least affected areas” in the MAA would be able to return to repair their homes by first week of July provided they seek a permit from City Hall and that their buildings are found to be still habitable.

Residents hope the Reparation bill will be passed into law soonest so they can have money to repair or rebuild their homes.

Patterned after martial law compensation act

A day before the public hearing, at the consultation dialogue between TFBM and Ground Zero residents also in the provincial gym in Marawi on March 19, Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan, chair of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said the 30 billion peso proposed allocation for the Marawi Reparation is “for the property losses of all victims of the Marawi siege.”

“I patterned that bill from the martial law compensation act,” Pangarungan said, apparently referring to Republic Act 10368 or Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which provides for the reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime, documentation of said violations and appropriating funds for the reparation.

“Mas malaki napinsala sa atin sa Marawi” (We suffered more damages in Marawi),” he said, adding that getting the President to certify the bill as urgent would be good so that “in a matter of one month siguro, approved na yan sa Congress.”

What remains of what used to be the homes or shops of residents in Marawi’s Ground Zero. on 08 May 2018. MIndaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

He cited as example the organic law for the Bangsamoro, which he said was pending in Congress “but because si SAP (Special Assistant to the President) Bong Go – nilakad nya kay President na urgent ang Bangsamoro law, one month approved na” (he followed up with the President for the Bangsamoro law to be certified urgent, in one month it was approved).

Last year, the TFBM in its presentations included in the proposed budget for the Marawi rehabilitation 20.05 billion as compensation, based on House Bill 07711 or the “Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2018” filed by Lanao del Sur Representative Ansaruddin Adiong on May 16, 2018, “to compensate for the loss or destruction of residential houses and commercial buildings in Ground Zero / MAA and Greater Marawi Area.”

The bill proposes that 20 billion pesos be allocated as the “Compensation Trust Fund” which shall be “under the custody of the (Marawi Compensation) Board and shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.”

The additional 50 million pesos which will be included also in the GAA, will be the operational budget for the initial operations of the Marawi Compensation Board.

Bills similar to Adiong’s – SB 1816 and SB 1856 — were filed in the Senate by Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino on May 23, 2018 and Joseph Victor Ejercito on June 28, 2018, also proposing the allocation of 20.05 billion pesos.

Several other bills were filed in the House of Representatives for the reparation of victims of the Marawi Siege, among them HB 08099 filed by Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. on August 14, 2018 and HB 08200 filed by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin on September 6, both of them providing for an allocation of 30 billion pesos.

All proposed reparation bills in the House have been consolidated by the Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation.

But Lanao del Norte Rep. Dimaporo said the 17th Congress is practically finished.”

The 17th Congress is on recess from February 9 to May 19 and will resume sessions from May 20 to June 7 – which has only nine session days before it adjourns sine die.

“The most this sub-committee can do is to make recommendation to the 18th Congress. That should be the first order of business of all Lanao congressmen (when the 18th Congress opens on June 30, 2019: the return of Marawi evacuees to Marawi,” Dimaporo said.

Damages per barangay

Macalandap attached a summary of the number of claims recorded by Oplan Dansalan Legal Documentation 2018, prepared by Atty. Sittie Raifafah Pamaloy, provincial head of the RHRC and Atty. Khalid Ansano, Secretary-General of the Development Assistance Team.

Macalandap said they hope these results will be utilized “as reference for enactment of any bill for the benefits of the Marawi City residents.”

Ansano told MindaNews that the claims are from residents of the MAA who were able to file affidavits. The report does not include those who were not able to file affidavits and residents outside the MAA who complained of massive looting and houses damaged.

IDPs from Barangay Moncado Kadingilan posted the highest claim for damages at 23.3 B, followed by residents in Datu Naga at 12.59 B and Moncado Colony at 10.95 B.

IDPs from other barangays that posted over a billion peso damages are Lumbac Madaya (8.48 B), Tuca Marinaut (7.2 B), Dansalan (7.13 B), Datu Dansalan (4.8 B), Kapantaran (4.5 B), Daguduban (1.6 B), Marinaut East (1.46 B), Wawalayan Marinaut (1.38 B), and Sangkay Dansalan (1 B).

Buildings lay in ruins after the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from ISIS-inspired terrorists. Photo taken Tuesday (24 October 2017). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The rest of the 24 barangays registered damages under a billion pesos each: Banggolo (984.39 million pesos); Bubonga Lilod Madaya (406.8 M); Lilod Madaya (732.54 M), Lumbac Marinaut (258.08 M), Marinaut West (704.3 M), Norhaya Village (343.4 M), Raya Madaya 1 (634.7 M), Raya Madaya 2 (262.1 M), Sabala Manao (532.5 M), Sabala Manao Proper (964.1 M), South Madaya (411.97 M), and Tolali (588.43 M).

Marawi has 96 barangays.

Principle 29

Macalandap cited Guiding Principle 29 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) that competent authorities have the “duty and responsibility” to assist IDPs with recovery, to the extent possible, of their lost properties and possessions.

When recovery or restitution is no longer possible, “appropriate compensation or other forms of fair reparation should be envisaged,” the UNGPID said.

The IBP Lanao del Sur-Marawi City Chapter also submitted a position paper urging the immediate passage of the Compensation bill. It noted that while the state’s resort to the use of lethal force is justified to protect its sovereignty and maintain national security, “there can be no iota of doubt as well that the government is duty bound to minimize and/or mitigate the sufferings of a people who had been displaced up to now.”

Residents search for items they could salvage from what remains of their house in Marawi’s Ground Zero or Most Affected Area (MAA) on April 5, 2018, under the Kambisita sa MAA project of the city government of Marawi and Task Force Bangon Marawi. Kambisita allows Ground Zero residents to visit their homes – or what remains of them – for three days from April 1 to May 10.
But they will be able to return and rebuild their homes only on the first quarter of 2020. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

It noted that while rehabilitating the city entails government and public infrastructure,“the heart and soul of the rehabilitation” is for it to begin first with “the people dearly and gravely affected.”

“We are not appealing for sympathy, we are asking the Philippine government as Filipinos,” it said.

The chairs of the 24 barangays also pushed for the immediate passage of the Marawi compensation bill.

Speaking on behalf of the 24 barangays, Khayriyyah Faykha Alonto Ala, barangay chair of South Madaya, told the House Sub-Committee that they are formally endorsing the Compensation bill and would help in the signature campaign to urge President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s first Mindanawon President and first with Meranaw roots, to certify the compensation bill as urgent. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)