Senate OKs Marawi Compensation Bill on 2nd reading

By ALI G. MACABALANG

COTABATO CITY – The Senate approved on Wednesday, January 26, on second reading the bill providing monetary compensation for the loss or destruction of the properties in the 2017 bloody Marawi siege, drawing praises from the Muslim world, notably those concerned with the plight of affected residents persevering for years.

Senate Bill 2420 seeks to compensate or indemnify the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) with physical properties and possessions left beyond recovery after the human-induced disaster.

Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, said to be the bill’s main author and co-sponsor, heralded the good news minutes after the Senate passed the measure on second reading. He shared the news in the social media, like the Facebook where dozens if not hundreds of people from different walks of life took turns in sounding off words of elation,

Among those prompt reactors is lawyer Saidamen Pangarungan, incumbent secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), whose clan lost huge properties after the siege. His family owns the Pangarungan village, the biggest conglomeration of structures inside the Marawi City’s Most Affected Area (MAA) or Ground Zero.

Mapuhay po kayo. In behalf of your Muslim brothers, we shall forever be grateful to you and to all our legislators for this landmark legislation,” Sec. Pangarungan said in post paying tribute to Senator Zubiri.

“I vividly remember when I submitted (a related draft bill) to you in your office back in 2017. You warmly embraced it with the vow to work for its approval. I then told you that you are our Muslim senator, having authored the Charter of the NCMF (R.A. 9997), and later the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL),” Pangarungan recalled.

Before President Duterte named him NCMF Secretary in 2018, Pangarungan represented the Integrated Bar of the Philippine (IBP)-Lanao Sur/Marawi chapter, in which he is a key member, and traveled to Manila to hand a copy of the draft to the Senate through Zubiri and later to key leaders of the House of Representative.

The House approved on third and final reading its version of the Compensation bill (HB 9925) on September 6, 2021, which ostensibly inspired Senators Zuburi and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, both from Mindanao, to expedite efforts for the passage of the Senate counterpart.  

Under the Senate version, any owner of residential, cultural, commercial structures and other properties in Marawi’s most affected areas (MAA) or other affected areas (OAA) who met the requirements is entitled to receive a tax-free compensation from the government.

Legal heirs recognized in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines or the Civil Code of the Philippines shall receive the compensation of the deceased owner.

Accruing compensation will come as “a complete satisfaction of the loss or destruction of properties sustained by the owner” unless Congress provides additional monetary compensation to the same stakeholder, the bill states.

Under Section 6 of the bill, costs for the initial implementation of the law will be charged against the 2022 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund for the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP).

SB 2420 also creates an independent and quasi-judicial body to be known as Marawi Compensation Board to be composed of three members of the IBP, preferably Maranao lawyers, who have been practicing law for at least five years, one licensed physician, one certified public accountant, one educator, and one licensed civil engineer.

The chairman and eight members of the proposed Board will be appointed by the President.

The Board will receive, process, and investigate applications for claims; issue subpoenas; conduct administrative proceedings, and resolve disputes over claims, approve with finality all eligible claims, among others.

Stakeholders said the Senate will pass on third and final reading of the bill within two weeks, a process entailing a joint congressional oversight committee creation to harmonize the versions of the two legislative chambers.

The joint panel will be composed of five members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives. At least two members from each House shall come from the minority bloc.

After three years from the efficacy of the law, the board shall conduct a mandatory review and submit a status report to Congress and the Commission on Audit. (AGM)

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