Bill Aims to Find and Preserve Marawi’s Lost Cultural Artifacts

Categories: Culture, History, Religion
Tags: Marawi, artifacts
The bullet-ridden Mindanao Islamic Center (balcony photo), in a photo taken in 2017. STORY: Bill aims to find, preserve Marawi’s lost cultural artifacts

The bullet-ridden Mindanao Islamic Center (balcony photo), in a photo taken in 2017, stands amid ruined structures following the five-month war between government troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City. (File photo by JEOFFREY MAITEM / Inquirer Mindanao)

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao del Norte, Philippines — Inside a glass case displayed at the Bangsamoro Museum here, copies of the Holy Qur’an, some of its pages torn and mangled, easily catch visitors’ eyes.

These were among the artifacts found in the debris of a mosque ravaged during the siege of Marawi, a war between an Islamic State -inspired terror group that occupied sections of the city and government troops, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from the Lanao del Sur provincial capital more than six years ago.

Now, the books lie as poignant reminders of the immense loss of cultural properties and lives during the five-month siege.

But Bangsamoro lawmakers want to protect artifacts like these by pushing for a bill that will establish a comprehensive database to document and track all cultural properties lost during the siege.

Parliament Bill No. 181, also known as the Marawi City Cultural Properties Protection Act of 2023  seeks to protect invaluable historical artifacts lost during the siege, including those that were retrieved, and to deter illegal trade.

The bill was filed by Members of Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil, Hashemi Dilangalen, and Hamid Malik, and lawyers Rasol Mitmug Jr. and Sittie Fahanie Uy-Oyod.


Entered on first reading during the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament’s session on June 22, the bill hoped to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Marawi by safeguarding its invaluable artifacts for the benefit of future generations.

According to the bill, the database will include an extensive inventory of artifacts, antiques, relics, photographs — with detailed descriptions of each item.

The Marawi siege broke out on May 23, 2017, when members of an IS-influenced armed group laid siege to sections of the city, triggering the fighting that dragged on until October of that year, displacing residents, and bringing about extensive damage to homes and infrastructure.

In filing the bill, Bangsamoro lawmakers said they recognized the profound impact of the siege on its people, some of whom still had to return home to the city’s most affected areas six years after the fighting ended.

To ensure public accessibility, the bill provides that a secure and user-friendly online portal will be developed, allowing users to explore and learn about the cultural heritage of Marawi. The database will be regularly updated and managed by the Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.

The proposed legislation includes strict penalties for people found guilty of engaging in the sale of cultural properties, including artifacts, antiques, and relics that were looted during and after the siege.

“Amid this chaos, it is important to remember the significance of preserving artifacts and other cultural properties that serve as a tangible link to the past,” said Mawallil, one of the principal authors of the bill.

“These cultural properties help us understand our history, culture, and heritage, and they hold valuable lessons that can inform our future,” he added.

Published on : 29/06/2023 by puertoparrot

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