Glimmer of hope for Marawi Siege victim-evacuees

There’s a reason for the victim-evacuees of the 2017 Marawi Siege to be optimistic. Although they are not yet ready to celebrate, they see a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. The compensation for the loss of lives and damages to the properties of residents is not all an empty promise from the government. The promised monetary compensation is within reach. The proposed 2023 General Appropriations Act contains a provision for an initial budget of 1 billion. The amount is grossly inadequate, and the subject of protest from the Moro civil society group. But it was a good start for the fiscal year 2023 when the process of compensation sets in. The national government and Congress have promised a greater amount in the succeeding years that is reasonable and commensurate to the damages inflicted upon the resident. We take them at their word.

Anticipating delay in the process of compensating the victims, the local governments of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province have initiated the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations which is a condition sine qua non before the implementation of the compensation law (RA 116961). They have literally jumped the gun on the Marawi Compensation Board which the law requires to be organized first and mandated to draw the IRR. It is their subtle way of messaging to the national leadership the urgency of the matter.

Behind the drafting of the IRR is a clear message from the LGUs that their constituents have already suffered so much and every day of delay exacerbates their already desolate physical, mental and psychological condition. Therefore, it needs immediate attention and action by the national government.

The draft IRR is the product of a series of consultative public assemblies under the aegis of the Marawi City government which asked the stakeholders-victim to put in their ideas about the IRR. Their suggestions and comments were collated, consolidated, harmonized, and distilled into the joint draft of the 2 LGUs — Marawi and Lanao del Sur — thru a two-day writeshop attended by prominent local legal luminaries. To name a few are: Dagoroan Adom Macarambon, president of the local Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Nurhabib Barodi, Dean of the Mindanao State University College of Law;
Mino Macalandap, IBP past president; Faisal Cali, Provincial Attorney; Elias Yusoph, former City Prosecutor and Commissioner of Comelec; veteran litigators Badelles Maca-an and Mayor Majul Gandamra; and this writer.

The first issue that confronted the writeshop was determining the parameters of the IRR. The scope and width of the law are canalized distinctly and could hardly be stretched to accommodate any rule outside its letter. How to write the IRR without offending fundamentally the black letter and spirit of RA 116961 was the elephant in the room at the back of the mind of the drafters.

There was apprehension that straying away from the law would make the IRR improper, unacceptable, and even illegal. This stems from jurisprudence that the IRR could be the source of rights and obligations independent of the mother law. There was a consensus, however, that for as long as the IRR merely supplies details in the implementation that will explain the general provisions, including the spirit of the law then it can accommodate limited flexibility.

The unanimous consensus was to put in ideas that will suit the noble intention of the law which is to compensate the victims. Some may see some provisions of the draft bordering in the penumbra of doubt about its regularity in an IRR that could pose a problem to the Board.

They could be moot and susceptible to debate. When that happens their meaning and import should be defined taking into consideration the whole gestalt of the IRR. This means it should be resolved to uphold social justice which is the core value and raison d’etre of the law.

We leave it to the Board to determine the regularity, if not the legality of the draft IRR. It is the final authority that will adopt it as willed expressly by the law.


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