DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 October) — Displaced Marawi residents whose residential or commercial buildings were destroyed during the five-month siege in 2017 will receive, according to a proposed law, a minimum of 176,000 pesos to a maximum of 1.76 million pesos in compensation, not the fair market value as earlier proposed, because the government’s economic managers did not agree (see other story)
House Bill 7503 or the proposed “Marawi Siege Compensation Act,” a substitute bill to the three bills earlier filed, institutionalizes the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) and mandates it to “provide monetary compensation for the loss or destruction of residential and commercial properties as a result of the Marawi Siege.
According to Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo, principal author of the substitute bill, the proposed measure provides that the compensation shall be patterned after RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, where the amounts “provided that the monetary award for claimants under this act shall be equivalent and shall not exceed the monetary amount granted to the Human Rights Victims recognized by RA 10368.
Compensation granted to Marcos’ human rights victims was based on point allocation, ranging from 176,000 pesos for one point equivalent to 1.76 million pesos for 10 points for those killed or disappeared and still missing.
Whatever the 10 points will represent for Marawi victims, their compensation can go no more than 1.76 million pesos.
The bill proposes the creation of a Compensation Subcommittee under the TFBM to “process claims in line with the spirit of Republic Act 10368.”
As proposed, the five-member Compensation Subcommittee, a body “attached yet independent” from TFBM, will be chaired by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and co-chaired by the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC). Its members shall be “organic to the CHR and BHRC.”
The bill proposes under Section 9 that “lawful owners or possessors who have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of the destruction of their property as a result of the Marawi Siege may file a claim with the Compensation Subcommittee for monetary compensation.”
The bill states the CHR will be granted the authority to “determine the point allocation to victims whose properties have been destroyed as a result of armed conflict … provided that the monetary award .. shall be equivalent and shall not exceed the monetary amount granted to the Human Rights Victims recognized by RA 10368.”
Current market value
But Marawi residents whose private properties were demolished as part of the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (MRRP) shall be compensated with a replacement cost as the bill proposes to amend Section 3 of RA 10752 or the Road Right of Way Act to include “MRRP, Debris Management Programs, and Programs that require the demolition of private property for the search and recovery of unexploded ordnance.”
Private property owners, according to the bill, will be “compensated a Replacement Cost” for loss and/or destruction of property as a result of the MRRP, which shall be “based on the current market value of the improvements and structures” as determined by the implementing agency, a government financial institution with adequate experience in property appraisal and and independent property appraiser accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
In the absence of baseline data or required documents, the cost estimates and data used for the Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) included in the MRRP may be used to determine just compensation.
Those who will receive replacement cost, the bill states, will be precluded from receiving and benefiting from the MRRP Land Titling Program, “which intends to return real property to the owner in the form of land titles.”
Dimaporo acknowledges that there are complaints about the amount of compensation. But he cited at least three issues on the original proposal that posed problems.
“Most houses have been demolished already and establishing fair market value without the presence of tax mapping by the city local government unit … will not suffice with the Commission Audit.” He told MindaNews that there was no tax mapping in pre-siege Marawi.
He said TFBM’s damage assessment was only 8 billion while the bill’s authors were asking for 30 to 50 bilion pesos. “Discrepancy can’t be explained,” he said.
Dimaporo added that the economic managers – the secretaries of Finance and Budget and the director-general of the National Economic Development Authority fear that this will be a slippery slope to provide compensation to other victims such as Zamboanga Siege. “Marawi can’t be treated ‘special’ because of the equal protection clause in the constitution,” he said.
Dimaporo explained his goal is to “pass a version to the Senate beore the year ends” because “once it reaches the second quarter in 2021, there will be no material time to enact the compensation bill into law unless prioritized by Malacanang.”
“Plus election fever will more than likely set in the closer we get to filing of (certificates of) candidacy” which is in October 2021.
“For now, I believe my version is the ‘safe and manageable’ form but still open for amendments in the plenary wherein Congress has plenary powers unlike the committee where we have to consider the position papers of the Executive.”
“Hopefully we can come up with a better version. I’m not satisfied with the substitute bill, but it’s the safe bet for now,” Dimaporo said.
HB 7503 cites the state’s policy to “value the dignity of every person and guarantee full respect for human rights, including rights of IPs and other vulnerable groups such as women and children at all times;” fulfill its obligations to international human rights law and humanitarian law and “recognizes basic principles and guidelines on the right to remedy and reparation for victims of gross violations of such;” and “provide the protection for IDP (internally displaced persons) in recovering properties and possessions” and if recovery is not possible, “shall provide or assist these persons in obtaining appropriate compensation or other forms of just reparation.”
The bill also said the State is “obligated to recognize the essence of providing reparation and compensation for persons and families whose rights were violated and economic, social and cultural rights were unfulfilled as a result of armed conflicts.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)