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Hontiveros to lobby more funds to compensate Marawi war victims

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- As the local government unit (LGU) here and the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB) echoed their call for a supplemental budget, Senator Risa Hontiveros came in and expressed her willingness to lobby for additional funding to ensure that all legitimate claimants who filed for appropriate compensation would be covered and provided with due payment.

Such an act was seen as timely, especially after MCB Chairperson Lawyer Maisara Dansamun-Latiph detailed that for two months since they commenced the acceptance and processing of applications on July 4 this year, at least 4,630 claims of death, both structural and personal, have already been submitted to their office.

Accordingly, this is equivalent to roughly P17.5 billion, falling short of the initially appropriated P1 billion by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Hontiveros convened with the MCB executives on September 14 to share her next step in anticipation of a budget debate that would be held soon.

"Ako ang mag-i-sponsor ng budget ng Marawi Compensation Board. Ang mga kaya nating i-explore ngayon sa budget debate ay gawin na natin para hindi umabot sa 2024 dahil alam natin na malayo ang P1 billion sa P17.5 billion doon sa unang batch pa lang na naitala [I will be sponsoring the budget for the Marawi Compensation Board. We will do whatever we can in the budget debate so that it will not reach 2024 because we know that P1 billion is far from P17.5 billion based on the enlisted first batch]," she said.

It could be remembered that Hontiveros was among the lawmakers who backed the enactment of Republic Act No. 11696, or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022, which aimed to provide reparations to residents of the Islamic city whose loved ones passed away and whose properties were disfigured due to the five-month urban warfare in 2017.

With the successful passage of the desired law, the senator expressed her thanks for all the input she garnered from peace advocates when this was still being shaped.

She stressed that this has been significant for her, considering that her office has been engaging with stakeholders when advancing bills to make sure that this would inspire relevant situations and experiences and stir the government to become responsive to the needs of the affected dwellers.

Senator Risa Hontiveros convenes with the Marawi Compensation Board officials as she pays a courtesy visit. Here, she shares her plan of lobbying the additional budget to cater all qualified claimants. (PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)

Notwithstanding the laudable intent of the law, Hontiveros noted its shortcomings, saying she would look forward to further improving it through amendment.

One of the concerns raised was the inclusion of the siege survivors and residents of the least affected area (LAA) in the compensation.

Latiph stated that they would submit a position paper to appeal for this subject, more so that they acknowledge the struggles this populace also went through.

Moreover, Hontiveros considered the board’s workforce to be limited to only 92 staff, which she recognized as insufficient to cater to the hundreds of thousands of claims collected and validated over five years.

Despite all the magnified concerns, the senator wished that the crucial mandate bestowed upon the MCB officials would be properly undertaken so that the residents relying on them would attain their longed-for recovery.

"Talagang hinila ninyo ang sarili niyo at ang inyong sambayanan mula sa dulo ng buhay at kamatayan. Napakaimportante ng inyong misyon sa ngayon. Humuhugot din ako ng pag-asa kasi sinasabi ko na ang tao mismo na pinakasugatan ay siya ang nakakaintindi at nakakatulong na humilom ang sugat ng kapwa tao niya [You really pulled yourselves and society from the brink of life and death. Your mission is important. I am also drawing hope because, as I have been telling you, those who are wounded can understand more and help to heal the wounds of those who are also wounded]," she said.

Latiph confirmed this and prayed that the tragedy of six years ago would serve as a reminder to the general public that no one wins in war.

"Lahat ay talo at ang kawawa ay ang mga napag-iwanan [everyone loses, and the most pitiful are those left behind]," she said.

Apart from paying a courtesy visit to the MCB, Hontiveros also toured the most affected area (MAA) to witness the developments and rising infrastructure projects implemented under the rehabilitation program. (CRG/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)

Marawi Compensation Board Chairperson Lawyer Maisara Dandamun-Latiph hopes that the public will learn from the siege in 2017 that destroyed her Islamic city. (PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)

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Claire Gigje

Information Officer I

Region 10

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