DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 April) – The bill providing tax-free monetary compensation for loss of properties and loss of lives due to the Marawi Siege five years ago has likely lapsed into law as there has been no announcement from Malacañang that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed or vetoed it.
According to the legislative process of Congress, “a bill may become a law, even without the President’s signature, if the President does not sign it within 30 days from receipt in his office.”
The enrolled bill was transmitted to the Office of the President on March 15, 2022.
April 14 was the 30th day.
Malacanang released copies of nine newly-signed laws – RA 11673 to RA 1181, mostly renewing the franchise for local exchange networks, on Monday, April 11. The date stamped on the documents was April 8.
On April 15, Communications Secretary and acting Presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar announced that the President vetoed the consolidated Senate Bill No. 2395/House Bill No. 5793 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, which seeks to mandate the registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts, with the purpose of deterring electronic communication-aided crimes.
There was no announcement on either the signing or veto of the Marawi Compensation bill.
The Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022, provides compensation to those whose properties were destroyed and those who lost their loved ones during the five-month war between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in 2017; and those whose properties were demolished during the implementation of the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP).
To be compensated are those who suffered total or partial destruction of their residential property; cultural property and facilities such as mosques, madaris, schools and colleges, hospitals and other health facilities; commercial property or those used exclusively for commercial or business purposes; and other properties such as “house appliances, jewelries, machineries, rice mills, and other equipment of value” in 32 of Marawi City’s 96 barangays that were devastated by the war.
The 32 barangays refer to the 24 barangays of ‘Ground Zero’ or what is now known as Most Affected Area (MAA) and eight barangays that also suffered damages, or “Other Affected Areas.”
The release of the monetary compensation, however, will not be immediate as funding for such purpose has yet to be allocated in the national budget for 2023.
The monetary compensation is much awaited by residents particularly those of ‘Ground Zero,’ the 250-hectare, 24-barangay former main battle area between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies in 2017.
‘Ground Zero’ remains a ‘ghost town’ five years later, its displaced residents spending their sixth Ramadan as ‘bakwits’ (evacuees) living in relatives’ houses elsewhere, in rented apartments in neighboring cities, or in transitory shelters in the city’s outskirts.
New structures have been constructed – barangay halls, a park, a central market, a school of living traditions, a museum, schoolbuildings, among others, but not used as residents displaced by the war five years ago have yet to return home.
According to the accomplishment report of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) as of March 30, 2022, out of 17,793 ‘Ground Zero’ families displaced by the war in 2017, only 95 families or 0.53% have been able to return home. A total of 5,484 families are living in 22-square meter transitory shelters on 36-square meter lots and 838 of those who used to live in the three-meter and 20-meter easements of Lake Lanao and Agus River have been relocated to permanent shelters.
“Returning home” is a challenge as most of the structures destroyed by war and exposure to the elements in the last five years have yet to be repaired or rebuilt as money is a major problem especially since the ‘bakwits’ had to go through two major upheavals in five years: the Marawi Siege and the COVID-19 pandemic. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)
Marawi Compensaton Bill: what claimants expect to receive starting 2023
Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero’ residents spend 6th Ramadan as ‘bakwits;’ compensation bill still unsigned after 22 days