Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman. (File photo)
COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament approved on Thursday, August 27, 2020 the report of the Special Committee on Marawi (SCM), a document outlining the issues faced by those displaced and affected by the Marawi Siege, and issuing recommendations for the Bangsamoro Government and the National Government to address the slow pace of reconstruction and the urgent concerns of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Member of Parliament Anna Tarhata Basman, Committee Vice-Chair, said they hope to do right for the people of Marawi by providing them a stronger platform for their grievances and lending whatever machinery they have as a Parliament and as an autonomous government to address their urgent and perennial concerns.
“We hope we do justice to our people by putting the spotlight on the matters and issues they raised during our interactions,” Basman stressed.
Deputy Chief Minister Ali Solaiman, who chairs the Committee, also aired the sentiments of those displaced and affected by the siege.
“To this date, a lot of these IDPs are still prevented from returning to their homes. Some are staying in the temporary shelters, still battling with the discomforts of unfinished shelters, inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene facilities,” Solaiman said.
Solaiman shared what breaks his heart is the fact that most of these people were left with no source of livelihood and thus unsure of where to get their daily food and family’s sustenance.
“I will not tell the people to blame the government but I cannot prevent their disappointment. They have every right to be disappointed. I, myself, am disappointed with the slow pace of the rehabilitation,” Solaiman emphasized.
Constituted in September 2019, the committee was tasked to look into the status of government’s response to the Marawi Siege. It is chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Solaiman, with MPs Basman, Hamid Aminoddin Barra, and Abdullah Macapaar serving as Vice-Chairpersons.
The SCM has 29 members, including all 21 MPs from the Lanao Region.
The Special Committee has conducted six committee hearings, three public hearings, multiple public consultations, field visits, consultations with experts, and data- and evidence-gathering in its work to summarize all national, local, regional, and non-governmental interventions in the aftermath of the siege, articulate the sentiments and concerns of IDPs, and provide recommendations to the Bangsamoro Government and the National Government.
Basman emphasized the urgency of the report especially given the outbreak of COVID.
“By June this year, three years later, thousands are still displaced. Rehabilitation has just begun, but the pace of reconstruction has remained slow. The difficulties faced by displaced Mëranaws — in their daily lives and their livelihoods, in dealing with the past and looking forward to the future — are compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19,” Basman explained.
Furthermore, the lady Member of Parliament also discussed key highlights of the SCM report, which covered issues involving land, which include property rights, and shelters, including concerns regarding property ownership, the military reservation, clearing and demolition, taxes, housing, and temporary shelters; core necessities, including utilities, livelihood, education, and health; public works; and other issues, including data issues, questions with regard to inclusion, scope, and priority, transparency, transitional justice, and security.
In addition, the report also outlined recommendations for the Bangsamoro Government, as well as for other government entities outside the region.
“We follow the lead of the National Government; we understand that they are calling the shots. We know that by law, our jurisdiction over Marawi Rehab is limited; but we also know that we cannot simply do nothing for those displaced and affected,” Basman said.
The SCM’s recommendations for the Bangsamoro Government include immediate organizational interventions such as establishing a dedicated office or board for BTA-led Marawi Rehabilitation and Recovery and fixing data gaps, and providing immediate and direct assistance.
Immediate to medium-term recommendations, on the other hand, include hastening water distribution and construction of sanitation and hygiene facilities, hastening IDP access to electricity, prioritizing business and livelihood, synchronizing service delivery to avoid duplication and resentment, continuing providing health and education services, and assisting homeowners in identifying property boundaries.
Medium to long-term recommendations include providing support for permanent housing development.
On the other hand, for government instrumentalities other than the Bangsamoro Government, the SCM calls for transparency in rehabilitation efforts and plans, the immediate passage of the Compensation Law, and addressing emerging security concerns. The SCM also echoed calls to allow IDPs to return home and exercise their property rights in the MAA.
“In so many words, our people have always said – let them go home. There may be justifiable reasons for preventing this in certain areas. We recognize that the TFBM through the mechanism of Kathagombalay is slowly opening up the MAA starting with Barangays Tolali and Daguduban. But as to the rest of the MAA, a full ban may not be necessary. For these areas, we echo their call, let our people return. Experience in other jurisdictions with similar circumstances show that while residing is not yet permitted, other expressions of possession can already be exercised,” Basman explained.
In addressing these recommendations to the National Government, Basman reiterated the role of the Bangsamoro to supplement National Government efforts on Marawi.
“We offer these insights through this report in the spirit of sincere and earnest partnership and cooperation, and we hope they are taken well,” she added.
Meanwhile, Solaiman said the Bangsamoro Government seeks to bridge the efforts of the different entities involved in rehabilitation in order to fast-track the process.
“Let us not despair. The Bangsamoro Government is here to bridge the gaps in the efforts of the National Government, the different ministries, NGOs and other stakeholders so as to fast track the rehabilitation of Marawi,” Solaiman said. (GALao with reports from the Office of MP Anna Tarhata Basman, BTA Parliament)
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