Senate passes 'Marawi Victims Compensation Act' on third and final reading

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Senate passes 'Marawi Victims Compensation Act' on third and final reading
This photo shows the Masjid Disomangcop mosque in Barangay Daguduban, where rebuilding efforts are underway.
Facebook / Task Force Bangon Marawi

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third reading the proposed Marawi Siege Victims Compensation bill, legislation that is seen to help residents of the battle-scarred city build back after the 2017 siege.

"With 23 affirmative votes, no negative votes, no abstentions, SB 2420 is approved on third reading," Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said in an online hearing on Monday.

If passed into law, the bill will create a Marawi Compensation Board that will be in charge of evaluating the compensation claims of survivors who lost their property in the intense fighting between security forces and the terrorist Maute Group. The board will have members from civil society organizations who will be representatives of Marawi residents on the panel, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a co-author of the bill, said earlier this week. 

Under the bill, Marawi survivors from 32 affected areas are entitled to receive subsidies to restore residential, cultural, commercial structures and other properties damaged in the Marawi siege. Heirs of Marawi residents who lost property but have since died will also receive compensation.

The measure also states that the government will compensate the owners of private properties that were demolished due to the state's Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP).

The Senate has proposed to draw the budget for compensation from the MRRRP's annual disaster risk and reduction management fund, with additional amounts to be included in the yearly general appropriations act. 

"Just a bit more and then President [Rodrigo] Duterte will [hopefully] sign this into law," Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, who chairs the chamber's special committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation, said in Filipino.

"This huge success in the approval of this long-awaited legislation is an expression that this Congress is fervent in helping our countrymen to rebuild, to restart and stand again after the devastation of the terrorist attack," he said. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee, said he hopes the bill, when passed into law, will mark the start of the Maranao community's "resolute and smooth" rehabilitation.

In a statement this week when the Senate passed the bill on second reading, Hontiveros called the legislation long overdue. "I hope the Marawi Compensation Bill becomes a light at the end of the tunnel for Marawi residents very soon," she said,

The 2017 siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur left around 360,000 people homeless and prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place all of Mindanao under martial law for over two years. 

Duterte vowed last year that the government is "strongly committed to bringing back the conflict-torn city's glory."

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