Philippine govt announces reparations package for Marawi residents

Froilan Gallardo
Marawi, Philippines
Philippine govt announces reparations package for Marawi residents Lawyer Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, flanked by Congressman Zia Alonto Adiong (left) and Mayor Majul Gandamra, shows a copy of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Marawi Compensation Package during a presentation in Marawi, Philippines, May 23, 2023.
Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews

After waiting six years, Jaslia Abbas is among residents of Marawi who expect to finally be compensated soon for their homes destroyed during fighting between government troops and Muslim militants in this southern Philippine city.

The mother of six said she hoped to get cash needed to rebuild the home she had to abandon when the pro-Islamic State militants seized Marawi in May 2017 and provoked a fierce urban battle, which lasted five months before Philippine forces retook the city.  

“I have waited for six years for this. I pray that the money will bring some closure to the pain of uncertainty I bear for all these years,” Abbas told a BenarNews correspondent who visited Marawi this week. 

More than 1,200 militants, civilians and government troops were killed in the battle that left much of the lakeside city in ruins. The fighting ended on Oct. 23, 2017, but Marawi has not been totally rebuilt and some unexploded bombs dropped by military planes and other ordnance remain lodged beneath the ground. 

Abbas, 47, and her family lived as nomads, transferring from one evacuation camp to another. 

Abbas spoke to BenarNews at the newly renovated Rizal Park in Marawi City, where the nine-member Marawi Compensation Board on Tuesday signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which will roll out 1 billion pesos (U.S. $17.9 million) in tax-free reparations for residents who lost properties during the fighting. 

Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, a lawyer who chairs the compensation board, said the IRR would be published in all Philippine newspapers of general circulation beginning this week. 

“After 15 days, the board will start evaluating the claims and schedule the payments,” she said. 

The government would pay 35,000 pesos ($628) per square meter for any concrete building destroyed or damaged and about half of that amount for wooden houses, said Mabandes Diron Jr., another attorney and fellow board member. Those who lost a relative or a loved one in the fighting are eligible for a compensation package valued at 350,000 pesos ($6,280). 

Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong, who represents a district of Marawi in Congress, reminded the board that its main job was not only to compensate affected residents financially. 

“The board should see to it that it [the compensation package] is just and it should listen to the people who have suffered so much in the past six years,” Adiong said.

In 2018, Task Force Bangon Marawi, the government’s lead rehabilitation agency, estimated that it needed at least 50 billion pesos (about $1 billion) to restore and rehabilitate the once beautiful city.

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Vehicles travel through a portion of the southern Philippine city of Marawi, Oct. 18, 2022. [Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews]

Drieza Liningding of the Marawi Consensus Group, which advocates for city residents, said 5,000 families were still struggling and living in temporary shelters.

The so-called Main Affected Area (MAA), where the militants made their last stand, remains off-limits to residents although the government has constructed new mosques, buildings and a sprawling sports stadium.

“It’s a welcome development and we hope the soonest the application for the compensation will start, the better,” Liningding told BenarNews on Wednesday.

“It is long overdue. The IDPs have had no choice but to wait,” he said, referring to internally displaced persons.

The pace of rehabilitation in Marawi has been extremely slow, including basic infrastructure, Liningding said. The siege by the militants began barely a week after he got married in 2017. All three of his children were born while the family stayed at a relative’s home. 

“We are not happy with the piecemeal turnover of infrastructure projects and those that have been turned over to the public will likely rot before they can be properly utilized,” Liningding said. “And basic services have yet to be completed, like road networks, electricity and water. 

“Every year, we feel like we are being deceived,” he said. 


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