Marawi siege victims hail enactment of compensation act

A military truck passes through a newly cemented road of downtown Marawi City on Wednesday (24 November 2021) amidst the devastation caused by the fighting between government troops and Daesh-inspired militants in 2017. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 28 April) — The victims and survivors of the bloody Marawi siege hailed the enactment of the Marawi Compensation Act, saying the landmark legislation “will help heal the wounds caused by the five-month urban warfare and rekindle hopes for their brighter future.”

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11696, or “An Act Providing Compensation for the Loss or Destruction of Properties and Loss of Lives as a Result of the 2017 Marawi Siege, and Appropriating Funds Therefor” on April 13,” two days before the bill would have lapsed into law.

The approval of the measure was announced yesterday, Wednesday, by Communications Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar.

The combined forces of the Islamic State-aligned Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups seized Marawi on May 23, 2017 in a bid to establish the country’s only Islamic city as a “wilayah” or province of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

At least 350,000 civilians were uprooted during the conflict that left the core of Marawi in rubble. At least 1,100 individuals, mostly Islamic militants, were killed during the siege.

Rehabilitation of “Ground Zero,” or the main affected areas (MAA), kicked off in October 2018 and as of the first week of December 2021, the rebuilding was 85 percent completed, said Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi, which is composed of 56 government agencies.

Dr. Fedelinda Tawagon, a member of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW) and president of the Dansalan College, expressed hopes that the implementation of the law will be smooth, fair and just.

“This law is a moral and legal victory for the Meranaw IDPs (internally displaced persons) whose lives have been suspended in the long process of rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City and its people,” she said.

“Thank you President Duterte, the Congress and to all those who support the passing of the Marawi compensation bill. I hope this will help heal the wound caused by the Marawi siege,” said Mohammad “Khalil” Abas, another MRCW member and executive director of TASBIKKa Inc.

Protesters display posters urging the Senate to pass the Marawi Compensation Bill during a rally in Marawi City on Wednesday (24 November 2021). MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Drieza Lininding, chair of Marawi-based Moro Consensus Group, said that more than the monetary compensation for their losses, the law’s enactment recognized their narrative that the Marawi residents were victims and not a party to the siege, contrary to an earlier narrative that the civilians welcomed and helped the terrorists.

“The passage and signing into law of RA 11696 will become a precedent in the future that no Moro lives, properties and communities will be destroyed without due compensation or paying the price. Our lives, rights and properties matter too!” he said.

International Alert Philippines, which serves as the MRCW secretariat, said the Marawi Compensation Act establishes a precedent for future victims of war and destruction.

“Through this law, no victim shall be left uncompensated. We celebrate this milestone with the IDPs and victims of the Marawi war for this hard-earned victory,” the peace advocacy group stressed in a statement.

Under Section 14 of the Marawi Compensation Law, claimants can be any person who is a lawful owner of a residential, cultural, commercial structures and other properties located in the MAA or other affected areas, and was destroyed or damaged either totally or partially on the occasion of the Marawi siege, and the heirs of those who died and legally presumed dead may also file a claim for compensation.

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MRCW member Saripada Pacasum, Jr., convenor of the Lanao del Sur Early Response Network, expressed optimism thesigning of such legislation will jumpstart the recovery of the people of Marawi.

According to him, this is one of the “most important laws passed under the Duterte Administration.”

“With the president’s signing of this law, he delivered justice and equal priority to the Meranaws who have lost and sacrificed so much in the past five years,” Pacasum said.

Mcmillan Lucman,another MRCW member who works at the Bangsamoro Ministry of Interior and Local Government, thanked the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives for pushing the Marawi compensation bill.

These are Representatives Amihilda J. Sangcopan (AMIN Party-list), Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte 4th District), Mujiv S. Hataman (Lone District of Basilan), Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte 1st District), Ansarrudin Abdul Malik A. Adiong (Lanao del Sur 1st District) and Yasser Alonto Balindong (Lanao del Sur 2nd District).

At the Senate, they are Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ronald de la Rosa, Francis Tolentino, Christopher Lawrence Go, Maria Imelda Josefa Remedios “Imee” Marcos, Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Juan Edgardo Angara, Emmanuel Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon Leila de Lima and Ralph Recto. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)