Where is the Marawi compensation bill, Senators?

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 March) – At the public hearing of the Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation on February 21 in Iligan City, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri announced that he and the four other senators with him had committed to file on Monday, February 24, their own version of the compensation bill for Marawi and that as Senate Majority Leader, he would “prioritize this measure for approval.”

The Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation at the public hearing on 21 February 2020 at the Mindanao State University–Iligan Institute of Technology gymnasium. Five senators were present: Ronald dela Rosa, committee chair; his two vice chairs, Francis Tolentino and Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Imee Marcos, and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

“Kami pong lima ay committed na po sa Lunes (Feb. 24) na mag-file din ng version naming at co-author kami lahat (All five of us have committed to file on Monday our version, we’ll co-author) compensation bill for Marawi,” Zubiri said.

No compensation bill was filed on February 24 and no compensation bill has been filed by Zubiri, committee chair Ronald dela Rosa, committee vice chairs Christopher Lawrence Go and Francis Tolentino and member Imee Marcos as of March 4.

MindaNews checked the Senate website and found that as of 1 p.m. on March 4, 20 bills had been filed after February 21 – Senate Bills 1372 to 1391 – three of them filed by Zubiri – Senate Bill Numbers 1372, 1390 and 1391 and 10 by Marcos – SBN 1377, 1378, 1379, 1383, 1384, 1385, 1386, 1387, 1388, 1389 – none of them on Marawi.

Zubiri’s SBN 1372 or “New Public Service Act” filed on February 26 proposes to modernize the Public Service Act; SBN 1390 filed on March 3 proposes a grant of Philippine citizenship to Robert Waly Lopez Mendy and SBN 1391 filed on the same day proposes a grant of Philippine citizenship to Bienvenido Maranon Morejon.

Marcos’ SBN 1377 filed on February 26 proposes to convert the La Paz District Hospital in Abra into a general hospital, 1378 filed on the same day to rename the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City and increase its bed capacity from 500 to 1,500, and 1379 also filed on the same day to integrate Climate Change Education into the science curriculum of Grads 2 to Senior High School.

Senate Bills 1383, 1384, 1387 and 1389 filed on March 2, are on increasing the bed capacities of Sinait District Hospital in Ilocos Sur, the Mangatarem District Hospital in Pangasinan, Southern Isabela Medical Center in Santiago City and the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City; 1385 is on strengthening the Internal Affairs Services of the Philippine National Police; 1386 on establishing a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority training and assessment center in Banna, Ilocos Norte; and 1388 on institutionalizing and strengthening the National Cybersecurity Inter-Agency Committee.

Displaced Marawi residents march in from the Children’s Park to the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology gym on February 21, 2020, venue of the public hearing conducted by the Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Last year, on July 11, Marcos filed SBN 410 proposing to create the Bangon Marawi Council for the Recovery, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation of Marawi City and other affected localities.

3 bills in the House

At the House of Representatives, three bills on compensation have been filed but have remained pending with the Committee on Disaster Management (CDM) since August last year: 3418, 3543 and 3922.

HB 3418, filed by Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong on August 5, 2019, proposes to provide “monetary compensation for the loss or destruction of residential and commercial properties” during the five-month siege from May 23 to October 23, 2017.

The bill allocates 50 billion pesos spread over a period of four years, 10 billion to be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), 20 billion to be sourced from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the remaining 20 billion from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The bill has been pending with the CDM since August 7, 2019.

HB 3543, filed by Reps. Mujiv Hataman (lone district, Basilan) and Anak Mindanaw party-list Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan on August 6, 2019, proposes to provide compensation “for the loss or destruction of properties in Marawi City during the 2017 siege of Marawi.”

The bill provides 30 billion pesos to be included in the annual GAA “for the next three years in three equal amounts.”

The bill has been pending with the CDM since August 13, 2019. As of February 24, 2020, a total of 112 representatives had signed up to be co-author.

HB 3922, filed by Lanao del Sur Rep. Yasser Balindong on August 14, 2019, proposes to provide “monetary reparation for the loss or destruction of residential houses, commercial buildings and other properties in Marawi, and affected areas in Lanao del Sur during the 2017 Marawi Siege.”

The bill allocates 30 billion pesos which shall be included in the annual budget “for the next three years in three equal amounts.

The bill remains pending with the CDM since August 27, 2019.

91.6 billion pesos in damages

At the public hearing of the House Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation in March last year in Marawi City, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Lanao del Sur-Marawi City Chapter submitted 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 proposed 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 from May 23 to October 23, 2017, now referred to as the Most Affected Area.

The 17th Congress adjourned in June 2019 with no compensation or reparation bill passed.

Marawi residents are hoping the 18th Congress will pass a compensation law so those who have been financially crippled by the loss of their livelihood since May 2017 can return to their villages and rebuild or repair their houses.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017, nearly 29 months ago. The Duterte administration has only 27 months until the end of its term.

The Task Force Bangon Marawi has repeatedly vowed rehabilitation would be completed by end of 2019 or 21 months from March 2020.

“Final solution”

In his opening statement at the public hearing of the Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation held at the gymnasium of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology in Iligan City on February 21, Zubiri stressed that “we don’t want another Yolanda here, where years after the devastation of Leyte, resettlement housing are still unfinished, or if they are fully constructed they are not livable or the people do not want to relocate there.”

“We don’t want President Duterte to leave a legacy for the people of Marawi, a legacy like Yolanda,” he said.

The public hearing was brief and only a few voices from the displaced residents were heard. It ended with committee chair Dela Rosa declaring that the “final solution,” the “ultimate solution” was to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Wala tayong solusyon kundi yung imprimatur galing sa President para matapos na ito” (We don’t have solution but the imprimatur from President so the rehabilitation can be finished), Dela Rosa said.

The Senate Committee was supposed to have looked into the status of Marawi Reconstruction and Rehabilitation and the utilization of funds, among others. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews

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