A DILAPIDATED building and car is seen in the most affected war-torn area of Marawi City in this May 14, 2019 photo, two years after pro-Islamic State militants began their attacks on May 23, 2017. — REUTERS

PRESIDENT RODRIGO Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved a measure providing compensation for people who lost family members and properties due to a five-month clash between state forces and Daesh-inspired extremists who laid siege on Marawi City in southern Philippines in 2017.   

Heirs of victims who lost their lives during the Marawi siege are entitled to compensation under Republic Act No.11696, signed by Mr. Duterte on April 13.  

Owners of residential, cultural, and commercial structures and other private properties inside the so-called “main affected areasthat were destroyed from the heavy gun battle would also receive tax-free compensation, according to the law. The law lists 24 barangays.   

The measure, which was approved by Congress only this year, grants private property owners a compensation based on the sum of the current market value of the land and current replacement costs.  

Under the law, owners of properties demolished under the Marawi rehabilitation program would also receive compensation.  

When we started the struggle and fight for the rights of Marawi Siege victims and survivors, it was an uphill climb all the way. We never even thought we would witness this day come,Rolanisah Dipatuan-Dimaporo, a doctor who works at the regions Ministry of Health and a member of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, said in a statement released by the group.   

This critical law marks the most significant action for the full recovery of Marawi, mechanisms and processes where people who lost their loved ones and owners of properties that were demolished and destroyedwill now be established and victims now may file their claims for compensation,she said.   

The government, through an inter-agency task force, has been reconstructing public structures and building new housing complexes for displaced residents who will have to be permanently relocated.   

The rehabilitation program has been criticized for delays and alleged lack of transparency.   

On the other hand, Housing Secretary Eduardo D. Del Rosario, who heads the Marawi task force, has said they are on schedule with finishing a “substantial” number of ongoing projects by June 30.  

“We remain on track to complete substantial number of the infrastructure projects by the end of the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he said last week following his monthly visit to the city.   

Mr. Duterte has also signed the proposed measure creating the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA), an agency that will coordinate an integrated urban development plan in Region 11.   

The law, designated as Republic Act 11708, was signed on April 13.  

It covers 15 towns and cities. These are: Davao City; cities of Panabo, Tagum, and the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; Digos City in Davao del Sur; Mati City in Davao Oriental; and the municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Hagonoy, Padada, Malalag, and Sulop in Davao del Sur; Carmen in Davao del Norte; Maco in Davao de Oro; and Malita and Sta. Maria in Davao Occidental.  

The MDDA will be adopting a plan prepared by the Davao Regional Development Council, which includes synchronized programs on sewerage and septage systems, infrastructure development, solid waste management, public transport and traffic management, and public safety and security.  

Operating funds for the MDDA will be allocated under the annual national budget and contributions from member local governments. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Marifi S. Jara