Back in early 2020 I was asked by several Mranaw civil society leaders to help them put together a technical stock-take of available data on post-Marawi Siege reconstruction efforts. At the time, the report of the BTA Special Committee on Marawi had not been written yet, and there was a very real fear that commitments for rebuilding the city and helping residents return home and get back on their feet would be forgotten after the Duterte administration and if the BARMM extension were not approved. Although it seems that the BARMM transition will continue until 2025, these fears of abandonment are still very real particularly with election season in full swing and no Compensation Bill in sight. Everything is still a moving target (just ask the residents of Jolo about what happened to them since the 1970s).
In other countries the standard practice for public responses to massive crisis events would be to conduct a serious assessment, my favorite example being the Multi-Stakeholder Review done three years after the Aceh reconstruction process, covering both tsunami relief and peace agreement implementation with the GAM/Free Aceh Movement. For that to happen in the Philippines, that means that the national government, along with regional and local actors, the private sector and the international development community will need to be open and frank about hard questions that need answering. All we can hope for is that the current commitment of allowing residents to return by December 2021 will be honored, and a real Compensation bill passed into law ASAP.
In the meantime, everything in this report, published by INCITEGov with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, is a small yet hopeful initial contribution to the transitional justice and reconciliation agenda. It is by no means definitive, but we try to ask the right questions and point to all the key analysis out there, particularly the BTA SCM report, which is informed by extensive consultations and notably, Mranaw economist Assad Baunto’s thorough analysis; reports from the many CSOs/NGOs and donors working on the ground (including citizen group MRCW and law group IDEALS); by journalists and truth-tellers Criselda Yabes and Carmela Fonbuena; not to mention the thousands of accounts of Mranaw residents and community leaders over the years. The report also benefits immensely from the budget analysis of the NDRRM fund by the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Democracy led by Zy-za Nadine Suzara. I’m just sorry that this does not include analysis regarding procurement and implementation quality, or much after year end 2020, which I hope that others can do. All of this is meant to be constructive technical engagement in good faith, which must continue now and well beyond the next few years. And no, this is not about what color you’re wearing or not wearing for the elections—this is about making sure that people get to go home, and that future commitments to all IDPs everywhere will be honored regardless of whoever is in power in Cotabato and Malacanang.
The report is now available for download on the following platforms:
– as PDF bit.ly/IlangTaongBakwitPDF
On Google Play Books: bit.ly/IlangTaongBakwitGPB
P.S. Our service is to the living, but this too must honor the dead, including the peaceworkers who made this possible — birthday celebrant sa langit ma’am Linky, ma’am Dinky Soliman, and sir Gus C.