Two paths for Marawi rehab | Inquirer Opinion

Two paths for Marawi rehab

/ 05:03 AM October 21, 2023

History is replete with governments skilled in the art of destruction but dreadfully inept at repair. The Philippines is one example, as evidenced by its reconstruction program for Marawi City that remains enfeebled six years after the 2017 siege.

Five months was all it took, from May 23, 2017 to Oct. 17, 2017, for the flourishing capital of Lanao del Sur to fall into ruin following the assault by marauding Maute and Abu Sayyaf rebels in the worst security crisis to strike our shores in years.

By the time Marawi was liberated by government forces, 1,000 people had been killed, over 350,000 others displaced, and the Islamic city known as the summer capital of the South had turned into a wasteland.

Yet, as of today, the rehabilitation of Marawi has made little progress and its residents staying in temporary shelters remain mired in the uncertainty of their half-decade quest for compensation to rebuild their homes.


It’s against this backdrop that makes it particularly grating to listen to former president Rodrigo Duterte, under whose administration the Marawi siege happened, advising the Israeli government to raze Gaza Strip to the ground, after Hamas militants staged a sneak assault on Israel that triggered the ongoing war.

“I will make it the biggest cemetery in the world … if it were up to me,” the former president said on Oct. 10.

One user on the X social network put it best: “This is what Duterte did to Marawi back in 2017. He had the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) pulverize it to the ground to weed out the ISIS (Islamic State)—which took five months to accomplish. Afterwards, they abandoned Marawi in ruins and left its residents still displaced.”

We acknowledge that the Marawi siege had warranted a forceful response, including the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, as the terrorists had cut a bloody path across the city, with the aim of establishing an IS enclave in Southeast Asia.


But the ultimate test of a government’s resolve is not during the peak of a crisis but in the aftermath, by how well it can restore order and normalcy to a distressed community. We didn’t see that even after two-and-half-years of military rule in Marawi.

By that standard alone, Duterte had failed the city and its people. For him to tell another government now to follow in his footsteps is a galling testament to his temerity.


We urge President Marcos to heed the lessons that his predecessor apparently didn’t learn from the Marawi debacle, by removing bottlenecks in the processing and release of compensatory claims, speeding up the relocation of the displaced, and pouring more funds into the city’s recovery.

Under Republic Act No. 11696, or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022, the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB) is mandated not only to compensate lives lost but also personal and structural property damage. Owners of private properties demolished as part of the recovery program are also to be paid; as are heirs of those who died or are legally presumed dead.

This month, the Department of Budget and Management released P1 billion to compensate victims under the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Fund, the same amount Congress has earmarked in the national budget for next year.

But P1 billion can only go so far.

In September, Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said budget officials had promised to raise the allocation for next year’s Marawi compensation program.

We await this with bated breath, because in July, the initial P1 billion funding for the compensation of victims was nearly depleted on the first day of processing claims, MCB chair Maisara Latiph told lawmakers.

Just imagine once all claims are in: At least 12,500 structures were destroyed during the siege, and some 77,000 residents were expected to file claims for them, Latiph said.

To make matters worse, there are fears among Marawi’s internally displaced that they might soon be evicted from their temporary homes. Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra has sought to allay those concerns, saying property owners have agreed to extend the period for the free use of their lands under a five-year usufruct agreement that was to lapse this month.

But the extension, according to the mayor, will only last from six to 12 months. The government must step in immediately to ensure these people will have a roof above their heads beyond that period.

According to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, there are still, as of June, an estimated 16,000 displaced families in Marawi who are waiting to relocate to permanent shelters or rebuild their own homes.

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That leaves the President with two choices: He can take his cue from his predecessor, maintain the status quo, and put the urgent matter of Marawi’s restoration on the back burner. Or he can prove to its people that he won’t neglect them, that he rebuilds communities instead of destroying them, and will ensure that this once proud jewel of Mindanao shall rise again from the rubble.

TAGS: Marawi, opinion, rehab, Rodrigo Duterte

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