This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MARAWI, Philippines – It was an emotional moment for several families of those killed during the 2017 Marawi siege as they ascended a stage at the Mindanao State University Cultural Heritage Center to receive compensation for their death claims. Each received P350,000 in Marawi on Monday, November 20.
Many were in tears, not because of the money, but because the checks symbolized the government’s acknowledgment of the deaths of their loved ones, as well as their losses and sufferings.
“I would prefer that my husband and son were alive. The money I would receive is not enough for their lives,” said Iligan City resident Jovita Amarga.
She lost her husband, Edwin Dadang Amarga, and son, Joey, after militants went on a rampage, killing and taking hostages in the weeks following the Marawi siege.
Her husband and son were working as construction workers when they were taken by the gunmen.
“I was told they were hogtied and placed inside a van. The military found their bodies along with 18 other workers inside the van later,” Amarga said.
She said the military informed her later that her husband and son were part of a prisoner exchange between the Army and Maute gunmen, a plan that went awry.
Another claimant, Ashima Basher, said her father was killed when Philippine Air Force warplanes bombed Marawi City to flush out the militants.
Basher said their relatives later found the body of her father, Basher Aloon, in the heap of rubble.
On Monday, after six years, the government finally recognized the deaths of 22 civilians killed during the 2017 attack by Daesh-inspired Maute gunmen, leaving most of Marawi destroyed in the ensuing five months of urban fighting.
Marawi Compensation Board (MCB) Chairperson Maisara Dandamun-Latip handed P350,000 checks to the family members of the 22 civilians during a ceremony at the Mindanao State University Cultural Heritage Center.
Latip said the families who filed their claims were able to satisfy the scrutiny of the board, proving they lost family members during the intense five months of fighting between the government and the Maute Group.
She said they were processing 37 more claims to be awarded next month after the Department of Budget (DBM) is notified.
“These are the people who filed their claims early. We are also processing claims for eight more families who lost a family member or relatives,” Latip said.
Latip said only 118 residents have applied for death claims so far as of November.
The MCB reported that there were at least 1,000 civilians who were trapped in the city and may have been caught in the crossfires between the soldiers and militants.
Latip said the board accepts death claims even if no official death certificates are presented by the family members.
“We also welcome testimonies from witnesses and military accounts,” she said.
Latip said they were also processing more than 300 claims from residents who lost their homes during the siege, adding that there are already 1,000 residents who filed their claims since July this year.
She noted that the 300 claimants are estimated to amount to P1 billion, the money provided by the national government under the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022.
Latip said the P1 billion would not be enough to cover the claims, and Congress has agreed to allot another P6 billion in the 2024 National Expenditure Program.
“That P1 billion is not sufficient, and the funding should be increased,” said Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Adiong.
Adiong said he has submitted a proposed amendment, which, if approved, would increase the Marawi compensation budget to P10 billion. – Rappler.com