The House Committee on Disaster Resilience approved during a virtual hearing on Tuesday the amended substitute bill for the proposed Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act.
Leyte 4th district Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, panel chairperson, approved the substituted measure after an hour-long discussion that involved technical working group (TWG) chairman, Lanao del Norte 1st district Rep. Khalid Dimaporo; the individuals bills' authors; and invited resource persons.
However, that part of the hearing occurred in an executive session, meaning it was closed to the media.
The still unnumbered substitute measure, which provides for the monetary compensation for the loss or destruction of residential houses, commercial buildings, and other properties in Marawi City during the 2017 siege of the city resulted from the harmonization of House Bill (HB) Nos. 3418, 3543, and 3922 by the TWG.
One of the authors, Deputy Speaker and Basilan lone district Rep. Mujiv Hataman was the one who moved for the measure's approval. Torres-Gomez, carried the motion after no one objected.
This notwithstanding, sponsor Dimaporo indicated that he would be open to accepting further amendments to the measure in order to perfect it.
"I've studied the issues on the compensation bills and I've drafted an amended version that hopes to resolve all of the issues mentioned. Personally, as I rewrote the amended version of the consolidate substitute bill, I would rate myself maybe 7 out of 10, maybe less, in my ability to attain the wishes of the good authors," he said.
"Having said that, if there are any other potential amendments, I would gladly accept it as we work on the Committee Report," Dimaporo said.
Torres-Gomez commented: "The bigger work really will be when it reaches plenary. With the amendments proposed, it is our hope that this bill would really see the light of day and that rehabilitation can happen for the people of Marawi in the soonest possible time."
"I think the bigger issue...is to determine the status of the (rehabilitation) because that will largely determine how the compensation will roll out," added the panel chairperson.
Later in the hearing, Dimaporo acknowledged that the executive committee found "red flags" in the substitute bill, thus the need to fine-tune it. These potential problems were presumably raised by the representatives of the different departments during the executive session and were thus not identified.
He also stressed that in the implementation of the proposed law, the equal protection clause in the Constitution must be duly observed. He cited as reference the compensation received by human rights victims during the Marcos regime.
Under this parameter, the maximum compensation received by a claimant was P1 million, while the minimum was P150,000. "You cannot go beyond that otherwise you are violating the equal protection clause in the Constitution."
"Magtulungan na lang tayo sa (Let's just work in together in the) House of Representatives to give you the best version that we can. Rest assured that we will work hard on that," Dimaporo said.
The approved measure mandates Task Force Bangon Marawi to provide the monetary compensation to beneficiaries.
It was May 23, 2017 when an estimated 1,000 ISIS-inspired Maute Group terrorists occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. It took the military and police five months to drive out the enemy, with the extensive shelling and bombing leaving the Islamic city in shambles.
Hataman, who penned HB No.3543, earlier called for a revamp in the leadership and management of Task Force Bangon Marawi as he cited its inefficiency in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city three years after the terrorist attack.
The other two authors are Lanao del Sur 1st district Rep. Ansarrudin Abdul Malik Adiong (HB No.3418) and 2nd district Rep. Yasser Alonto Balindong (HB No.3922).