Members of the House Makabayan bloc filed on Wednesday Resolution 1973 seeking an investigation into the human-rights situation and the status of rehabilitation in the Islamic City of Marawi.
ACT-Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago specifically asked the House committees on human rights and Muslim affairs to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports of human-rights violations in Marawi and other grave concerns of the local people on the government’s post-siege rehabilitation plans in Marawi.
In filing the resolution, the opposition lawmakers said “there is a need for Congress to investigate the reports of human-rights violations and the valid concerns of the people of Marawi as regards their land, properties, culture and future.”
While no amount of investigation, compensation and accountability will bring back lost and shattered lives, properties, culture and dignity, they said this probe is important for the “people to regain a part of their lives and culture.”
The lawmakers also cited in the resolution report from the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) in June and July 2017, respectively. It documented several cases of rights violations, including cases of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture of Marawi residents, who were accosted by soldiers while in the process of evacuation.
There were also several complaints of looting, by soldiers who forced their way inside abandoned homes and took household items and other properties, the report said.
Drieza Lininding, a resident of Marawi and chair of Moro Consensus Group who was also at the filing of the resolution, confirmed these incidents of looting.
“Ito siguro yung pinaka-malaking lootings, bilyones po ‘yung nawala na pagmamay-ari ng mga Maranao na ang bahay nila hindi sa affected areas,” he told reporters.
(This, maybe, is the biggest case of looting, amounting to billions have lost from the Maranaos whose houses were not from the affected areas.)
“‘Yung iniwang mga bahay nila akala safe dahil mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan ang nagbabantay, hindi pala. Pero bakit hindi po ito pinag-uusapan?” he asked.
(The houses they left behind they thought it was safe knowing that soldiers and policemen were there guarding, but it was not. However, this issue is not being discussed.)
Lininding also lamented how Marawi residents are usually sidelined in narratives.
“Napakalungkot po pag-usapan ang isyu ng Marawi City dahil iisang naratibo lang, lumabas din ito sa pag-aaral ng Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, karamihan po, o almost lahat po, ng source na binabalita sa media kung hindi galing sa military ay galing po sa government. Kaya po yung naratibo hanggang ngayon na napapaniwalaan ng buong Pilipinas ay kasalanan namin ito na mga taga-Marawi,” he said.
(It is saddening to talk about issues in Marawi City because it is one narrative, this one also comes out in the study of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, majority or almost all of the sources of news being shown by the media come from either the military or the government. That is why the narrative until now being explained to the entire Philippines is that it is the fault of the people of Marawi.)
Dr. Moctar Matuan, another Marawi resident, also appealed that Congress investigates the reported human-rights violations and the ongoing rehabilitation in their city.
“‘Yung isang estudyante lang sa University of Santo Tomas na biktima ng hazing, nagkaroon ng Senate inquiry, bakit itong thousands ang namatay, billions ang nasira at saka apektado lahat ng tao, bakit hindi ito pinag-uusapan?” Matuan asked.
(That one student from the University of Santo Tomas who was a victim of hazing, there was a Senate inquiry, why is it that with thousands killed, billions worth perished and it has affected most people, why is it not an issue?)
“Napaka-unfair po naman. Dahil ba kami po ay mga Muslim wala na kaming importansya na citizen ng Republic of the Philippines? Sana tumulong din ang ibang congressmen at lawmakers na mapatuloy itong inquiry na nire-request ng Makabayan,” he added.
(This is very much unfair. Is this because we Muslims do not have relevance as citizen of the Republic of the Philippines? I hope the other congressmen and lawmakers help to push the request of the Makabayan to investigate.)
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, in its report on November 2017, also said “Philippine security forces violated the prohibition on the use of torture and other ill-treatment of people in their custody, adding that most of the violations were carried out against civilians who were escaping from the besieged lakeside town and seeking military protection.”
“These reports belie the statements of both US Defense Secretary James Mattis and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Spokesperson Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. that rights were upheld by military troops and there were no violations of any rule of engagement in the Marawi siege,” the lawmakers said.
The resolution also questioned how Bagong Marawi Consortium was selected, “and how the people of Marawi and the Filipino people will be affected by the yet undisclosed revenue model of Bagong Marawi Consortium or plan for recouping the billions of pesos it will pour into Marawi rehabilitation projects.”
“Many Marawi residents are gravely concerned that there is no clear and comprehensive rehabilitation plan for internally displaced persons, no recognition and accountability over the government’s failure of intelligence and failure to stop the entry of terrorist groups in Marawi, absence of any government statement or commitment to indemnify lost lives and compensation for damaged properties, no assurance of rebuilding of destroyed 20 mosques and 30 madrasah, and absence of clear government statement on lifting of martial law in Mindanao,” the congressmen said. /jpv