State allots P1-B for Marawi siege victims 

Damaged properties in the aftermath of the Marawi City siege in 2017. — REUTERS

THE GOVERNMENT has allotted P1 billion in next year’s national budget to pay Marawi residents who lost their homes in the 2017 attack by extremists linked to the Islamic State, a congressman said on Sunday. 

Owners of residential and commercial buildings that were damaged or destroyed by the siege will be paid tax-free, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny T. Pimentel said in a statement. 

“We expect the compensation payout to rev up reconstruction activities in Marawi by private property owners,” he said. 

A multiplier effect on the economy through job creation that tends to benefit poor households is expected from private rebuilding activities, he added. 

The fund, which is part of the P31-billion calamity fund, will also cover mosques, schools, colleges, hospitals and other health facilities, he said. Also covered are home appliances, jewelry, machinery, rice mills and other expensive equipment. 

The Marawi siege began on May 23, 2017, when military forces set out to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the head of the Abu Sayyaf group, which had pledged allegiance to the ISIS group. 

The five-month siege, which involved heavy gun battles between government and extremist forces, left the central part of Marawi in ruins.   

Mr. Pimentel said 95% of buildings in 24 villages were damaged or destroyed by aerial and artillery bombardment. More than 200,000 Marawi residents fled. — Kyanna Angela Bulan