Press Release
September 29, 2021

Co-Sponsorship Speech
Committee Report No. 324
Senate Bill No. 2420

Good afternoon, Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

Our Meranaw or Maranao brothers and sisters have been known to be fearless warriors. They have fought the Spanish forces in 1891 and put up their arms against American colonial forces in May 1902 that lasted more than a decade.

No one expected that on May 23, 2017 Meranaws will be forced to leave their beloved city. A city which has been the heart of Lanao province, home to my alma mater Mindanao State University and considered the Summer Capital of the South with astonishing view of the grand Lake Lanao.

Who would have thought that the culturally and economically vibrant Islamic city will transform into a war-torn, deserted city. After the five-month long clash, the DSWD-Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards showed that there were 353,921 internally displaced persons (IDPs) belonging to 77,170 families and constituting 98% of the city's population. Along with this, based from the Post-Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) conducted, it revealed that the cost of damages is estimated to be Php 11.5 billion and estimated losses at Php 6.7 billion. Furthermore, the Human Recovery Needs Assessment survey done by the Office of Civil Defense, shows that the human development needs of the IDPs is estimated at Php 51.6 billion. Mr. President, more than a year ago, the Senate Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation visited our Maranao brothers and sisters, conducted an ocular inspection in Marawi City - Ground Zero and a public hearing in Iligan City. Habang nag-iikot kami, kasama sila Senators Zubiri, Tolentino, Go and Marcos sa ilang mga ongoing rehabilitation projects ng Task Force Bangon Marawi noon, nagkaroon kami ng pagkakataon para makausap ang ilang mga IDPs. Ilang taon na ang nakalipas ngunit bakas pa rin sa mukha at kalagayan nila ang epekto ng giyera. Isa lang ang kanilang hiling sa pamahalaan - na sana ay makabalik sila sa kanilang lupang pinanggalingan at masimulan ulit ang kanilang buhay. Isang simpleng pakiusap na magbibigay daan upang matunton nila muli ang landas pabalik sa kanilang mga buhay na kinagisnan.

Mr. President, today, I am with much pride that this august body is taking a step to make it possible for our kababayans in Marawi to restart and rebuild. And so, I proudly stand this afternoon for our Maranao brothers and sisters, who have been internally displaced and who have lost everything because of inhumane terrorist acts. I stand to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2420 under Committee Report No. 324 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act.

Ang mga pinaghirapang bahay, kabuhayan at iba pang naipundar na mga ari-arian ay nasira at nawala sa loob lamang ng limang buwan na giyera. Ang bawat nakatayong bahay na testamento ng ilang taong pagsusumikap ay naging imahe ng mga gumuhong mga pangarap.

Mr. President, by virtue of this measure, any qualified owner of a residential, cultural, commercial structures, and other properties in the Main Affected Area (MAA) and Other Affected Areas (OAA) in Marawi City, whose properties have been damaged or demolished because of the 2017 Marawi armed conflict, shall receive compensation from the State, free of tax.

Our Task Force Bangon Marawi led by Sec. Del Rosario is almost done with the reconstruction of Marawi City. Apart from government buildings and other public facilities, four (4) mosques have been built. In addition, the Marawi Grand Mosque, which is in the heart of the city, will be inaugurated this October. These mosques are significant part of the Muslim culture and tradition, especially in the Islamic City of Marawi. The remaining piece that will complete our rehabilitation efforts for the city is the enactment into law of this proposed measure.

Mr. President, I believe that the only way for us to build peaceful and safe communities free of discrimination, political manipulation and oppression, is when we can immediately address the vulnerabilities and desperation of homeless and suffering families.

Mr. President, as leaders of this country, we must provide not just a door or a window of opportunities for our Maranao brothers and sisters. We must provide homes of opportunities to give them continued hope, amid uncertainty during this time of pandemic and their struggle to restore normalcy in their lives.

And for this, Mr. President, I am fervently praying for the swift passage of this measure.

Before I end, Mr. President, allow me to extend my utmost gratitude to our hardworking and seemingly tireless yet still good-looking and charming Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sonny Angara, my idol. Despite already being preoccupied by successive budget hearings, he took time to hear and sponsor the Marawi Compensation Bill.

Coming from Mindanao, I have personally witnessed the hardships that conflict has brought upon our fellow Filipinos. In the relatively short time I have worked with Sen. Sonny, I have known him to be a compassionate man. May puso ang taong ito para sa mga kababayan natin na nagdusa dahil sa giyera at ngayo'y nagsisikap na muling makabangon. Kakampi natin siya.

In behalf of our Maranao brothers and sisters, thank you very much, Sir! Shukran jazeelan!

Maraming salamat po!

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