By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – After the long wait of displaced residents in hoping that the President would certify bills as urgent for thousands to return home after Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017, the House of Representatives has passed on second reading its version indemnifying private properties ruined in the Islamic city.
Finally, the House plenary on Tuesday, August 31, approved on second reading its harmonized Bill 9925 or more known as the Marawi Compensation Bill, Deputy Speaker and Basilan lone Rep. Mujiv Hataman said in breaking news heralded by media entities on the same day.
Rep. Hataman, a former governor of the defunct Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), will give updates of the development in the third episode of the weekly “Tapatan” forum hosted every Saturday from 10a.m. to 12noon by the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) via zoom.
Separate but related enabling bills were filed in 2018 and re-filed in 2019 in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate in 2018 and 2020.
Hataman and Anak Mindanaw party-list Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan filed on Aug. 6, 2019 HB 3543, which proposed 30 billion pesos to be included in the annual GAA “for the next three years in three equal amounts.”
HB 3922, filed by Lanao del Sur Rep. Yasser Balindong on August 14, 2019, proposed 30 billion pesos which shall be included in the annual budget “for the next three years in three equal amounts.”
Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong filed on Aug. 15, 2019 HB 3418, which sought “monetary compensation for the loss or destruction of residential and commercial properties” during siege from May 23-Oct. 23, 2017, allocating P50- billion spread over a period of four years – P10-B in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), 20-B from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and P20-B from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
The HB 9925, which harmonized the three bills, seeks to provide compensation to qualified claimants for the loss or destruction of residential and commercial properties as an outcome of the 2017 armed conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and terrorist groups in Marawi City.
The bill proposes to institutionalize the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to attain the objectives set in the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP), as adequately providing compensation to those who lost their homes and other properties to the siege.
President Duterte created the TFBM to facilitate the rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction efforts in the war-torn city after the Islamic State-linked Maute group stormed Marawi on May 23, 2017.
But the TFBM’s handling of the planning of rehabilitation roadmap and its implementation has met flaks from IDPs, who have become more suspicious in the snail-paced interventions and in their oft-failed homecoming attempts.
Nonetheless, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament member Zia-ur Rahman Alonto-Adiong, himself an IDP, has officially expressed elation over the passage on second reading of the substitute bill, even as he aired hope the Senate will deliberate and pass promptly its counterpart version.
“We congratulate the House Disaster Resilience Committee and the House Committee on Appropriations for having approved House Bill No. 9925, also known as the Marawi Compensation Bill, on its second reading,” Adiong said in a statement sent to the PMT news on Wednesday.
The harmonized House measure and its counterpart from the Senate will flesh Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, something the all residents of the 27 barangays flattened by bombs and aerial strikes have long cherished, according to MP Adiong, who once served as provincial spokesperson during the Marawi siege.
“While (R.A. 10368) has paved the way for the recognition of human rights violations committed during the Martial Law years, it has also provided us with an opportunity to learn from its implementation,” added Adiong, a younger brother of the incumbent House member.
He added: “We hope the final version of the Marawi Compensation Bill will truly reflect the most pressing concerns of the people of Marawi and respond to their needs with urgency, with full knowledge and appreciation of the struggle of the Meranao people.”
Adiong also pointed out that the “implementation of (an enacted compensation law) must not suffer from delays and its rightful beneficiaries must not suffer from an agonizing wait, having seen the fate of so many human rights victims who are yet to receive compensation for their loss, let alone a semblance of justice for their pain and suffering.” (AGM)