SENATOR Robinhood Padilla on Tuesday night warned terrorist threats might be strengthened if the government could not deliver the victims of the 2017 Marawi siege from poverty.
Padilla said the issue is not a matter of politics or legalities, but a question of “brotherhood and of faith, brotherhood and sisterhood.”
According to him, the national government appeared to be having a hard time finding sources of funds.
“But will we allow our brethren to suffer if there is a chance of finding funds for them,” Padilla asked.
He said the government must explore all options in finding ways to fund compensation programs for the victims.
In his interpellation of the budget of the Marawi Compensation Board, Padilla said authorities have no time to lose because the threat of terrorism still looms if the victims are stuck in poverty.
He noted that the threat from the foreign terrorist group that entered the Philippines “has not gone away.”
He added that in his talks with the Marawi Compensation Board (MCB), its P1-billion budget may not be enough because the amount may be used up in three to four months.
Padilla urged the government to explore other sources of funding, including P6 billion in unprogrammed funds, for compensation efforts.
He also said the authorities must make sure those affected by the 2017 siege are given means of livelihood.
He said it would be a good idea to explore non-monetary programs being drawn up by the MCB, especially in coordination with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Ministry of Social Welfare and Development.
Senator Risa Hontiveros who is sponsoring the MCB budget noted that the MCB plans to provide recipients of the compensation with financial literacy skills training.
Hontiveros also said they were exploring additional resources for the MCB so it can fulfill its mandate, even as the MCB is also ensuring compensation for non-Muslim victims of the siege.
So far, she said almost 90 percent of death claims were for non-Muslim laborers.
The first batch of recipients of monetary awards involve death claims, and a commemorative program has been organized to give the first batch of awards, timed with the anniversary of Marawi’s liberation.