The Maranaos of the devastated city who had fled their homes and properties and displaced as evacuees in various parts of the country had high hopes their homeland would be reconstructed soon and that they would be able to return. Such hopes have never materialized. More than three years after the fateful day, many are still living in temporary shelters which the government readily provided, others renting somewhere and still others dwelling in tents — situation bitterly swallowed by the evacuees for having no other choice.
Maranaos blame the Task Force Bangon Marawi for what they call failure to rebuild the damaged city. Many times, they asked for the replacement of Eduardo del Rosario as TFBM chairman, or the total revamp of the task force. Even some legislators in the two chambers have sympathized with the Maranao evacuees and called for the TFBM to explain. But these all fell on deaf ears and del Rosario still continues acting all his lies as the Maranaos call him.
They believe more than a three-year time is too long to rebuild Marawi. Thus doubting the government sincerity dwells in their hearts, even suspecting that the city’s most affected area is taken away from them with the government invoking that over 75 percent of the city are military reservations, an argument the residents seem to never understand.
Is the delay in the reconstruction waiting for a right time when residents of the Most Affected Areas (MAA) or Ground Zero (GZ) will have no more reason to claim or reclaim their untitled lands and the government can proceed to whatever it intends to do with the city? Maranao legal minds think this is the danger posed by an Executive Order No. 693 which, quoting Wikepedia, declared 17,076 acres or (6,915 hectares) of Marawi City as Military Reservation. In that case, with a total land area of 21,630 acres or (8,755 hectares), 79 percent of Marawi land area is a military reservation.
According to lawyer Bayan G. Balt, Section 48(b) of Republic Act No. 2874 or the Public Land Act gives MAA or GZ residents and other Marawi landowners or landholders to file a petition in Court for the “Judicial Confirmation of their imperfect title until December 31, 2020. These include those who have no title of their lands but physical possessors or holding a color of titles such as Tax Declarations, Deeds of Sale or any evidence of possession or ownership.
With less than six months left, do these residents have enough time to secure Judicial Confirmation of their untitled lands? They must not waste time. They must do it now.
PHILIPPINE MUSLIM TODAY