Philippines to compensate Marawi residents who lost homes in 2017 siege

Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel
2022.04.27
Marawi, Philippines
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Philippines to compensate Marawi residents who lost homes in 2017 siege Philippine construction workers walk past damaged buildings in the southern city of Marawi, April 27, 2022.
Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews

President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law this month that sets up a board to compensate people who lost their homes in Marawi during a five-month battle after Islamic militants seized the southern Philippine city in 2017, his spokesman said Wednesday. 

Street fighting between government forces and pro-Islamic State militants, combined with aerial bombardments by the military, left much of this once-picturesque lakeside city in ruins.

Nearly five years after the military ended the siege and killed top militants who led it, sections of Marawi – the only predominantly Muslim city in the majority-Catholic Philippines – remain uninhabitable. Thousands of families live in transitional shelters.

“President Duterte has signed Republic Act 11696 which gives compensation to those who lost their property and those who lost lives in the 2017 Marawi siege,”  acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar told reporters on Wednesday. 

The law, which Duterte signed two weeks ago, allows the creation of a nine-member compensation board, but it does not state a figure for how much money Marawi residents could receive to compensate them for homes or properties destroyed during the fighting.

“According to this law, an independent and quasi-judicial body called Marawi Compensation Board will be created and will have a chairman and eight members which will be appointed by the president,” he said. 

More than 1,200 militants, soldiers, police and civilians were killed when Islamic State militants from the Middle East and Southeast Asia joined Filipino fighters who took over Marawi in May 2017. Government forces reclaimed the city in late October that year.

In January, the Philippine Senate passed its version of the act after the House passed similar legislation that were reconciled and sent to Duterte. The reconciled act did not specify amounts to be awarded or the number of people who would benefit from it.

The president signed the law on April 13, barely two months before he will be required to leave office at the end of June. Voters are to go to the polls on May 9 to elect his successor along with 12 members of the Senate, all 316 members of the House of Representatives as well as thousands of officials, who range from governors and mayors to village chiefs and council members. 

Law details

The law sets up compensation for any owner of a residential, cultural or commercial structure that was among other properties damaged or destroyed during the Marawi battle to file a claim with the board seeking compensation, according to a copy obtained by BenarNews.

The nine-member board is to include three lawyers, two representatives from the civil society organizations, a licensed physician, a certified public accountant, an educator and licensed civil engineer. 

“The board shall determine the monetary compensation and award to the lawful owner(s), whichever is the lower amount of either the fair market value of the residential, cultural, commercial structures, or other real properties or the value of its total area per story equivalent to an amount to be determined in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act,” the law states. 

“In case of claims for loss or destruction of personal properties, the claimant shall present competent evidence of the loss or destruction, ownership, as well as the fair market value of the personal properties.”

Drieza Lininding, chairman of the Moro Consensus Group, which includes displaced Marawi residents, welcomed the law. 

“Apart from the monetary compensation, we are thankful at least the people of Marawi were vindicated because there was speculation before that it happened because the people [of Marawi] supported the militants,” Lininding told BenarNews by phone.

“This will also serve as guidance for our security sectors that in the future, no life or properties will be destroyed in their operations,” he said. 

“Our lives, rights and properties matter too,” Lininding said.

The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, an NGO monitoring rebuilding efforts, thanked Duterte.

“When we started the struggle and fight for the rights of Marawi siege victims and survivors, it was an uphill climb all the way. We never even thought we would witness this day,” said Rolanisah Dipatuan-Dimaporo, a member of the NGO who works at the Ministry of Health.

“With deep gratitude, we thank our representatives and our senators for standing up for us. Finally, we thank President Duterte. Today, we celebrate the passage of truly landmark legislation.”

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales contributed to this report from Cotabato, Philippines.

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