DAMAGED HOUSES surround a new four-floor school building, the first of 10 planned for construction under the Marawi integrated school buildings project. — TASK FORCE BANGON MARAWI FB PAGE

A COMMITTEE formed to address land disputes in areas of Marawi destroyed during the 2017 siege is being eyed to become a permanent and regionwide government body that will handle real estate ownership contentions, according to an official of the Bangsamoro Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD).

“We are planning to institutionalize LDRC (Land Dispute Resolution Committee). Maybe this needs an executive order or an act from the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (which currently serves as the region’s parliament),” said Minalang M. Barapantao, Sr., designated project operations manager of the committee that was formed in 2021 to focus on and hasten the settlement of property ownership disputes in Marawi’s so-called most affected areas.

The disputes involve multiple party claimants, and between government and private parties.   

Mr. Barapantao, speaking at the DXMS Alerto Bangsamoro radio program co-hosted by International Alert Philippines last week, said of the 796 disputes logged in, 49 have been settled so far while 57 are ongoing.

The LDRC aims to resolve cases outside the judicial system for faster resolution and avoid legal costs.   

Mr. Barapantao said they are anticipating more claims and conflicts to arise with the implementation of the recently-signed compensation law that will benefit owners and relatives of destroyed properties.

“With the enactment of the compensation law, we expect that once that is operational, more conflicts will come out,” he said.

The LDRC is an ad hoc body that is originally set to expire by the end of this month. Mr. Barapantao said the National Government, through Task Force Bangon Marawi, has agreed in principle to extend its mandate to at least end-June or up to the end of the Duterte administration.

When the committee does become a permanent agency, Mr. Barapantao said they foresee it operating on a wider scale to address other land disputes within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“It will be a board already, not a committee, maybe a ‘Regional Land Dispute Resolution Board’,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johary Lumna of the Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office reported that 2,800 building permits have been issued to verified property owners.

Of these, 1,000 have started repairs or reconstruction of their damaged properties, he said.

He added that there is a plan to extend the Task Force Bangon Marawi, which is supposed to be co-terminus with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, up to the end of the year to continue with the processing of displaced residents, among other functions relating to the city’s rehabilitation. — MSJ