Fulfill the promise of Republic Act No. 11696      | Inquirer Opinion

Fulfill the promise of Republic Act No. 11696     

The passage of the Marawi Compensation Act by the Senate on third and final reading on Jan. 31, 2022, following the adoption by the House of Representatives on Feb. 2, 2022, marked a watershed moment for us, Maranaos. One that reignited our hope after a long period of unfulfilled promises to “build back better,” notwithstanding the enormous resources invested in the rehabilitation project by the national government and international donors. The passage expressed the state’s commitment and awareness of its moral and legal responsibility to our full recovery as a people displaced by war.

We reflect on our years of struggle for justice and restoring the honor and dignity of a people ravaged by a war that was not their own. We fought hard with sweat and tears for former president Rodrigo Duterte to sign Republic Act No. 11696, or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022, into law before he finished his term. The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW) has struggled to ensure that the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB) would be an objective and independent body dissociated from previous failures and allegations of corruption. We lobbied for the genuine representation of Maranaos and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) on the board, which represented tangible support and full recognition of the pain and sorrow inflicted on those who lost loved ones and their homes in the 2017 war.


After nine arduous months of waiting, our hopes are renewed with the selection of the nine members of the MCB. We expect the board to lead an independent, inclusive, responsive, and gender-sensitive compensation process. Out of the nine members of the board, five are women, which bears a cardinal moment in the history of Muslim Mindanao for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as a merger of the hearts and minds of the people of Marawi.

Our women representatives bring much-needed credibility to a rehabilitation process that has failed to offer long-suffering victims relief and justice. Internally displaced women, particularly those from ethnic and religious minorities, bear the brunt of intersecting prejudice and oppression, aggravated by the implications of delayed rehabilitation.


MRCW looks forward to the expedited process of crafting and implementing the implementing rules and regulations of the reparation law that guarantees a transparent, efficient, and accountable use of compensation funds, starting with the P1 billion allocated for 2023. A just compensation process begins with the legitimate participation of those directly affected and safeguards against external influences and interests.

We stress the importance of consulting Marawi IDPs and experts familiar with the complexities of the overlapping concerns and challenges of the compensation process. Because previous profiling was insufficient and contentious, a comprehensive inventory of Marawi IDPs and properties, including private social service providers such as schools and hospitals, is urgently needed. Land disputes and other land-related concerns must be managed methodically and evidence-based to avoid violent conflict flashpoints when IDPs return. Agreements on private land where the temporary shelters were constructed are set to expire this year. Landowners, who are themselves IDPs, are now forced to impose rental fees to make a livelihood off what is left of their assets. Renters struggle to secure the means and resources necessary to meet their daily needs.

These are just a few of the critical issues that must be addressed to build stakeholder trust in the process, beginning with a comprehensive inquiry into the status and implementation of the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation program. The rebuilding process has to be opened to wider public scrutiny than in the past. House Resolution No. 101 was filed in the 19th Congress, and it is now time to act on the call for an investigation and exact accountability to the agencies previously tasked to implement the Marawi rehabilitation program. This covers updates and data that will be useful to the board as it works on its mandate, like the Kathanor dataset, the post-conflict needs assessment, the status of land conflict resolution in the MAA, and pertinent issues like temporary shelters, education, health, and the needs of vulnerable sectors. After all, compensation can take both monetary and nonmonetary forms essential to achieving a developed and peaceful human settlement in Marawi that is not solely based on the completion of physical structures, but a result of a social consensus among its residents.

As we move forward, six years after the war, we hope that the voices of discontent and rage, as well as feelings of despair and hopelessness, will finally be stilled, bringing closure, healing, and lasting peace to Marawi. We place our faith in the Marawi Compensation Board members: chair Maisara Dandamun Latiph, Sittie Aliyyah Lomondot Adiong, Dalomabi Lao Bula, Jamaica Lamping Dimaporo, Romaisa Lomantong Mamutuk, Mustapha Dimaampao, Mabandes Sumndad Diron Jr., Moslemen T. Macarambon Sr., and Nasser Macapado Tabao. We are confident that they will work together to bring justice to all of us who have been waiting for more than five years for our dignity to be restored, our lives to be reclaimed, and our dreams to be realized.

MRCW is an independent multistakeholder dialogue group that harnesses skills and professions to monitor the Marawi reconstruction process and channel greater public attention and engagement since 2018. MRCW members are from Marawi and most are Maranao.

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