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MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Maranaos and support groups hailed the enactment of the Marawi Compensation Act, saying it offered “a relief to their struggle and suffering” after a five-month bloody street fighting between government forces and Maute terrorists destroyed most of their homes and businesses in 2017.
They said it’s not just about compensation but about justice, too.
Nearly five years after the military ended the siege and killed the top terrorist leaders who led it, sections of Marawi, the only Islamic city in the Philippines, remain uninhabitable.
Thousands of its residents are still living in transitional shelter houses that mushroomed in the outskirts of the city.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) parliament member Zia Alonto Adiong said that Republic Act No. 11696 “unequivocally” acknowledged the claims of Marawi residents to their land and reparation.
“The people of Marawi know how difficult the process of healing and rebuilding is, but having the law affirms our years of struggle and suffering,” said Adiong whose ancestral home was among those destroyed during the 2017 fighting.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law that provides the creation of a nine-member board that would process the claims of the Marawi residents.
The law did not state exactly how much Marawi residents would receive as compensation for their losses.
Musa Sanguila, director of the civil society organization Pakihdait, said the funds for compensation must be included in the General Appropriations Act to ensure that Marawi residents can get paid.
“Without the money, compensating the residents would be nothing but cheap words,” Sanguila said.
The nongovernmental organization International Alert Philippines said the compensation act establishes a precedent for future victims of war and destruction and is an important milestone for the Marawi residents.
“We now have a stronger resolve to move forward, begin rebuilding our properties and trace our path to recovery,” said Jalilah Saplin, a member of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch.
Drieza Lininding, head of the Marawi Consensus Group, said the new law sets a precedent so that Marawi residents can get compensated in case of future armed conflicts that would result in the loss of lives and properties.
“There will no more be a Moro life, property, and community that can be destroyed without due compensation,” Lininding said.
Charlito Manlupig, chair of the Balay Mindanao Foundation, hailed the signing of the new law, saying it “is not just about compensation but more importantly about pushing what is just for the residents.” – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship