Statement of the Commission on Human Rights urging the national government to expedite release of compensation packages to IDPs in Marawi City

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights urging the national government to expedite release of compensation packages to IDPs in Marawi City

Seven years after the conflict between Philippine government forces and the Maute Group in Marawi City, many families displaced during the five-month siege continue to grapple with the difficulties of rebuilding their lives.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since May 2017, approximately 16,070 families, or around 80,300 individuals, are still living as internally displaced persons (IDPs). These families have resided in transitional shelters provided by the government, under a five-year lease agreement between the landowners and the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM). However, in 2023, with the expiration of these leases, these families were forced to relocate or pay rent, among other financial responsibilities, to sustain their basic needs.

Moreover, some IDPs have voiced concerns that the compensation offered does not reflect the current inflation rate and the rising cost of construction materials. They have urged the government to reassess their properties based on fair market value to ensure that the compensation package aligns with prevailing economic conditions.

As the nation’s prime advocate for the protection and promotion of human rights, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urges the Philippine government to expedite the distribution of compensation to the internally displaced families of Marawi City. The Commission expresses its concern that delays in disbursing benefits will lead to further repercussions such as food insecurity, inadequate sanitation facilities, and increased security risks.

The CHR expresses its support for the review of Republic Act 11696, known as the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022, by the House Ad Hoc Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation and Victims Reparation, which is led by Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Alonto Adiong. The purpose of the review is to determine whether amending the law could address issues related to appraisal standards.

The CHR has consistently advocated for the importance of adopting a rights-based approach to support the return, transitional, and permanent resettlement of IDPs. This approach is grounded in the Philippine Constitution, which guarantees the dignity and rights of every individual, including the right to adequate housing and the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of property.

“Being impacted by conflict and displacement is already traumatic. For seven years, these families have yearned to return to their normal lives. We urge all stakeholders to collaborate and expedite lasting solutions, enabling them to not only rebuild their homes but also their lives,” CHR Chairperson Richard P. Palpal-latoc said.

Furthermore, the Commission earnestly appeals to the national government and the local government units (LGUs) for the implementation of measures that prepare for and respond to emergencies resulting in internal displacement, adhering to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as established by UN OCHA.

The Commission also implores lawmakers to pass House Bill No. 8269, also known as the “Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act.” If passed into law, this will guarantee a human rights-based approach for the protection and promotion of the rights of IDPs and other non-combatants in accordance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other international treaties and conventions.

“We appeal to Congress to pass the IDP bill into law to avoid situations like the unfortunate conditions faced by our kababayans in Marawi City, and to ensure that there will be a more effective and coordinated response to such crises in the future,” Chairperson Palpal-latoc concluded. ###