TABACO CITY, Albay: Capt. Ronnie Madrinan of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division’s Public Affairs Office on Friday led a humanitarian team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in transporting relief goods and nearly P1 million given by Bicolanos to Marawi City refugees.
Madrinan led at least five military and government trucks loaded with 200 sacks of rice, canned goods, noodles and used clothing generated after almost three weeks of knocking at the doors of the people of the Bicol Region seeking aid for evacuees affected by more than one month of fighting between the AFP and the Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group.
Besides the military and government trucks packed with goods, the AFP collected P800,000 in cash from the Bicolanos to be handed over by Madrinan to the city social welfare office of Marawi City currently stationed in neighboring Lanao del Norte, Iligan City.
Madrinan left Tabaco City international seaport via commercial ferry boat Regina Calixta owned by Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua bound for Virac, Catanduanes to get the goods gathered by the people of the province.
The AFP Bicol was given 50 percent discount in shipping fees by Regina Calixta management.
From Virac, Madrinan will be transporting the goods to Iligan using a cargo ship also owned by Cua for free.
The AFP Bicol has been receiving donations from people from all walks of life, with Carlo Lincaso, owner of a thrift store in Legazpi City and former cameraman of GMA7 donating five big sacks of used clothes for the Marawi refugees.
The donation was picked up by Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force in Bicol and transported to Tabaco City international seaport for the trip to Virac.
“We’re grateful to the Bicolanos because in just less than three weeks, we were able to produce P800,000 and assorted relief goods for war-torn Marawi. The Bicolanos share whatever they can. These goods and money came solely from the Bicolanos, our stakeholders,” Madrinan said.
He added that the relief goods will be handed over to the Marawi social welfare office.
The AFP launched the “Pagmakulog sa Sadiring Lahi (Compassion for our Fellowmen)” project, an initiative to lend a hand to the evacuees, on June 19 in Bicol’s six provinces.
The kick-off was led by Army Gen. Manuelito Orense, commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division.
After the launch, the AFP in Bicol also tapped social media to appeal for help from netizens and local radio stations across the region.
The project aims to encourage Bicolanos to give any form of assistance to boost the morale of the displaced families.
According to Madrinan, they will sail for three days to reach Iligan City.
“We hope that the war in Marawi will be over, so that the displaced families can return home,” he said.
The AFP in Bicol earlier sent at least three battalions to Mindanao before the Marawi City clashes erupted to go after Maute Group terrorists.
Since the Marawi siege started on May 23, at least three Marines from the Bicol Region and an Army soldier have been killed in action.
The fallen heroes were given military honors here.