Marawi advocates press Duterte to make compensation bill a priority

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Marawi advocates press Duterte to make compensation bill a priority
Displaced people from Marawi City and members of civil society groups call for the passage of the Marawi compensation bill during the State of the Bakwit Address in Marawi City, 24 July 2021.
Prof. Tirmizy Abdullah / Marawi Advocacy Accompaniment

MANILA, Philippines — Advocates are clamoring for President Rodrigo Duterte to identify as a priority measure during his final State of the Nation Address a proposal providing financial compensation for the survivors of the 2017 Marawi siege.

Marawi Compensation Advocates, a new coalition of 15 civil society organizations in the city, is pressing for Duterte to state his support for the compensation bill during his SONA.

"This is our plea to our president and lawmakers — to certify the passing of the compensation bill as urgent, so that we might have some justice for what happened in Marawi," said Ding Cali, a member of the coalition and director of the Kalimudan sa Ranao Foundation, Inc.

Certifying a bill as urgent exempts it from a rule that requires that a bill be read in plenary in separate readings on separate days. It also sends a strong signal for members of Congress, especially in one dominated by administration allies, to speed up passage of a proposed measure.

Saripada Pacasum Jr., a member of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, said Duterte can show that he really cares about Mindanao and Maranaos by pushing for the proposed law during his speech.

Duterte is yet to say whether or not he supports the proposed Marawi compensation bill, advocates said in a media release. Bills are still pending at committees at the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco also did not identify the Marawi compensation bill as among their respective chamber’s priorities for the last session of the 18th Congress.

But for Marawi siege survivors like Jalanie Yahya, they would be “miserable” without the compensation bill.

“Papaano pa kami makakabalik sa aming mga lugar kung hindi maipapasa sa Senado ang compensation bill na ito? Paano mababayaran ang mga nawasak na mga ari-arian ng mga tao? Tulad namin, paano kami pag hindi pa ito naaprubahan? Saan kami kukuha ng perang pantustos sa aming mga bahay, dahil walang-wala po kami,” Yahya said.

(How can we go back to our homes if the Senate does not pass this compensation bill? How can we pay for our destroyed properties? What would happen to people like us if this is not approved? Where would we get money to repair our homes? We have nothing.)

The siege in Marawi by members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute took terror group lasted four months, resulting in the deaths of 114 civilians, 270 unidentified individuals, 168 government troops and 924 from the rebel group, according to the Asian Development Bank.

An even greater number — 370,000 — were forced out of their homes, while the cost of damage stood at P11.5 billion.

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