By Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz & Cai U. Ordinario
QUEZON CITY—Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have no land and living in danger areas in Marawi will be the “top priority” of the government’s permanent housing projects in the war-torn city.
This was the statement by Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) Chairman Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario to members of the House Committee on Disaster Resilience, who approved the report on the bill providing monetary compensation for the loss of residential and commercial properties during the “Marawi Siege.”
Del Rosario, who also heads the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), said that following a thorough assessment and coordination with the local government of Marawi, it was determined that 3,500 IDPs within the “most-affected area” (MAA) need housing assistance.
“IDPs without lands and living in danger zones are the priority to be given permanent shelters under our housing program,” Del Rosario said.
Among the priority IDPs were those previously living in the danger zones along the Agus River and in front of Lake Lanao.
A total of 2,000 permanent shelters are now being constructed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) set for completion by June 2021 and had, likewise, produced around 4,800 temporary shelters for IDPs.
The Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) is also constructing 1,500 units, slated to be completed by March 2021, for a total of 3,500 permanent housing units, del Rosario said.
Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez and Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, who led the hearing, wanted updates from the TFBM on various projects by the implementing agencies in rebuilding the country’s Islamic City following the 2017 siege.
Del Rosario stressed that the massive rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City will be completed by December 2021.
At the same time, he said, the rehabilitation works are not only about rebuilding public infrastructures but equally important is the social intervention necessary to assist Maranaos recover from the conflict and cope-up with the adverse effects of the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Del Rosario said immediately after the siege erupted in May 2017, the government started providing livelihood and financial assistance to the affected residents.
“Up to now, the government has been providing necessary help to our Maranao sisters and brothers,” del Rosario said.
Thursday’s hearing was a continuation of the deliberations for the proposed substitute bill for the Marawi Siege Compensation (MSC) Act as well as other measures aimed at aiding those affected by the five-month siege laid by Daesh-inspired Maute terrorist group.
The Marawi Siege refers to the armed conflict between government troops and terrorists beginning May 23, 2017, and ending October 23, 2017.
The human toll was staggering: 978 militants killed, 168 government forces captured, 1,400-plus government forces wounded and 87 civilians dead. The fighting left Marawi City in ruins with 3,152 buildings completely destroyed and 2,145 buildings partially damaged within 4-square kilometers of the main battle area.
More than 200,000 residents of Marawi fled to nearby cities and provinces.
The national government issued Administrative Order Nos. 3 and 9 creating the TFBM, tasked to craft and implement a Marawi Recovery, Restoration and Rehabilitation (M3R) program.
Lawmakers said while the government has succeeded in defeating security threats, the restoration of the Islamic City of Marawi appears to be a more daunting task.
Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said an estimated 95 percent of the infrastructure was damaged in the main battle area, which is “definitely one of the greatest challenges” facing the government’s rehabilitation effort in Marawi City.
“The armed fighting not only created housing problems but livelihood issues of the residents, as well,” Hataman said. “It is, therefore, the duty of the State to address the loss and destruction of property of Marawi City residents.”
Open for amendments
But some lawmakers said that after more than three years of the rehabilitation process of Marawi City, “the marginal accomplishment of TFBM has caused disgruntlement in the local population.”
“The prolonged period, when residents of the most affected area remain displaced, adds to the clamor to provide additional assistance to our fellow Filipinos in Marawi City,” the authors said in a substitute bill for the MSC Act.
However, Hataman said members of the committee have not yet included the compensation amount as the substitute bill, which consolidated three bills, is still open for amendments in the plenary.
House Bill (HB) 3418 provides for P50 billion for the compensation while HB 3543 and HB 3922 provide for a P30-billion compensation.
Aside from Hataman and Torres-Gomez, authors of the substitute bill include the following Representatives: Ansaruddin Abdul Malik A. Adiong; Amihilda J. Sangcopan; Yasser Alonto Balindong; Eleandro Jesus Madrona; and, Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo.
The bill seeks to institutionalize the TFBM and create a Compensation Subcommittee under it to process claims in line with the spirit of Republic Act (RA) 10368. The Compensation Subcommittee shall be attached yet independent from TFBM, according to the bill.
Under the measure, lawful owners or possessors who have become IDPs as a result of the destruction of their private property due to the siege may file a claim with the compensation subcommittee.
The measure also said that, in accordance with Article III, Section 9 of the Constitution, all properties demolished as part of the implementation of the M3R program shall be compensated for.
The measure said private property owners shall be compensated a replacement cost for loss and/or destruction of property. The replacement cost shall be based on the current market value of the improvements and structures as determined by the implementing agency; a government financial institution with adequate experience in property appraisal; and, an independent property appraiser accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
The bill said the compensation for claims under the TFBM Compensation Subcommittee shall be patterned after RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Also, the Commission on Human Rights en banc shall be granted the authority to determine the point allocation to victims whose properties have been destroyed as a result of armed conflict, in congruence to Section 19 of RA 10368.
“Provided, that the monetary award for claimants under this act shall be equivalent and shall not exceed the monetary amount granted to the human-rights victims recognized by RA 10368,” the bill said.
The bill added the appropriation required for the operational needs of this act shall be incorporated into the following year’s General Appropriations Act upon ratification into law.
Del Rosario reiterated his support to lawmakers’ push for the new legislations, saying such measures will play a crucial role in helping the TFBM fulfill its mandate of ensuring that Marawi will “rise again.”
“Being the lead agency in the government’s recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Marawi, we fully support the principles and intentions behind the bills, which seek to financially assist owners of residential and commercial properties which were damaged during the Marawi siege and help them rebuild their homes and resume their commercial ventures, towards the full recovery of the once economically vibrant city,” del Rosario said.