PDP senatorial bets push for various issues in Marawi rally but mum on reparation bill

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 13 April) – The five senatorial bets of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP) took turns pushing for various issues in their proposed legislative agenda – among others, the return of the death penalty, the creation of a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers and Department of Disaster Management — but the rally on Friday, April 13, ended with no mention of support for the reparation bill for the victims of the Marawi disaster.

Senatorial candidates Ronald dela Rosa, Bong Go, Dong Mangudadatu and Francis Tolentino spoke at the rally in the jampacked Dimaporo Gymnasium but PDP President and reelectionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sent a representative as he could not make it due to flight schedule problems from Tacloban. PDP Chair and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was also a no show as his helicopter in Davao was not given clearance to fly to Marawi due to bad weather.

Senatorial aspirant Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go speaks at the rally of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) inside the Dimaporo Gymnasium of the Mindanao State University on Friday, April 12, 2019. The Presidential podium with bulletproof glass panel on the left side of the stage was later removed when it was confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte was not coming, MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

No announcement was made that the President was no longer arriving but the audience realized he was not coming when the Presidential podium with bulletproof glass panel was removed and reporters seated at the media platform started leaving.

PDP spokesperson Ronwald Munsayac told MindaNews Friday night that Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. “announced it to our partymates and leaders in Marawi City.”

Papandayan addressed the crowd briefly, in Meranaw, but only after the last speaker, Tolentino, ended his speech. By the time Tolentino spoke, Go, Dela Rosa and Mangudadatu were no longer around.

Go and Dela Rosa were seen at the provincial capitol paying a courtesy call on Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr. who is running for Governor under Lakas Christian Democrats against PDP bet Guiling Mamondiong and six other candidates. Mamondiong was earlier appointed by President Duterte as Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He resigned last year to run for Governor.

Munsayac said they were trying to get “another schedule for PRRD (Duterte) to visit our candidates and leaders in Lanao del Sur.”

“We can still consider the Marawi City rally a successful one since most of the Party’s Senatoriables were able to personally meet and deliver their messages to our partymates, leaders and supporters in Marawi City,” he said.

Star factor

Go spoke the longest among the five candidates – about half and hour – and enumerated the most number of priorities – at least a dozen — in his proposed legislative agenda, including a Magna Carta for Barangay Workers, a Department of OFWs, a Senior Citizens Commission, localized peace talks, sports development. Marawi reparation was not among the dozen.

Rally of the Partido ng Demokartikong Pilipino in Marawi City on April 12, 2019. The rally was held inside the Dimaporo Gymnasium on April 12, 2019. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Go, Duterte’s aide from 1998 to 2016 and named Special Assistant to the President when Duterte took over as President on June 30, 2016, was joined by two movie actors onstage in entertaining the crowd – Philip Salvador, and Robin Padilla, who is a Muslim. The three sang “Maging Sino Ka Man,” an act followed by Padilla’s five-minute speech endorsing the PDP candidates.

Dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police Director-General, greeted the predominantly Muslim crowd in Meranaw and introduced himself as an MSUan (student of the MSU) but did not graduate there as he transferred to the Philippine Military Academy.

Mangudadatu, outgoing Representative of Maguindanao’s 2nd district and the lone Muslim in the PDP slate, mentioned the cost of war in Marawi in terms of money and lives lost but like all the other PDP candidates, was mum about what they would, if they win a Senate seat, do to ensure residents can return home the soonest and reparation be given them.

The rally would have been the best time for the senatorial aspirants belonging to the President’s party to assure residents of Marawi and the rest of Lanao del Sur their support for a reparation bill for the victims of the 2017 siege.

Lanao del Sur is the second vote-richest province in the predominantly Muslim five-province, three-city Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), accounting for 484,435 registered voters out of its 1.69 million voting population in the 2016 elections.

Reparation Bills

Last year, the Task Force Bangon Marawi proposed 20 billion for reparation but last month, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Lanao del Sur – Marawi City Chapter 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).

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 the House committee members 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.

20 billion, 30 billion

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 is for 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, among them HB 08099 filed by Lanao del Sur Rep. Papandayan 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. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)