ILIGAN CITY: The once heavily populated evacuation centers that Iligan has prepared for the residents who fled Marawi City at the start of the siege in May have now been reduced to a small community of remaining internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Out of the five major evacuation centers in Iligan, the city is now maintaining only four, according to Disaster Relief Rehabilitation Management Office (DRRMO) administrative assistant Jonah Edosma with each center having a population of not more than 250 IDP households, a sharp contrast from May to October when centers were bulging at the seams.
The remaining centers include Buruun Fisheries (118 households), Buruun Gym (44), Santa Elena (249) and Maria Cristina Gym (229 families).
In October, the DSWD reported a total displacement of 353,921persons or about 58,987 households distributed in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Non-resident IDPs have either opted to stay at the evacuation centers or at the houses of their relatives in Iligan City and the two Lanao provinces, according to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 10 director Liza Mazo.
A peace caravan signaled the return of the resident IDPs to Marawi. Aside from welcoming back the original residents, the Marawi local government unit (LGU) also gave out relief goods to the residents eager to return to their homes and processed the recovery of payments under the DSWD guidelines.
Recently, during a food packet distribution in Marawi, a number of residents were refused the DSWD food provision because of excess in the number of Disaster Assistance and Family Cards (DAFC) used by each family.
Some members of the distribution team alleged that a number of DAFC were not original documents and were being used repeatedly, thus depriving other legitimate IDPs with only one access card. Irate IDPs who were refused access to the food provision expressed anger at the staff.
Jam Taha, DSWD Region 10 spokesman said “reproduced cards are old concerns that the agency has been dealing with.”
The DSWD distinguishes between the resident IDPs who are originally from Marawi and the home-based IDPs who may have resided in nearby towns of Lanao del Sur but opted to stay with relatives in addresses outside of Marawi during the war.
Taha said part of the problem of reproduced access cards is in the validation of the data base of the DSWD. “Some legitimate IDPs have five access cards, a duplication and something that we have been trying to solve for sometime now adding that once the data base system has been validated, fraudulent cards will be deleted from the system.”
Meanwhile, non-government organizations (NGOs) based in Iligan and Marawi have continued to provide various types of assistance to IDPs before, during and after the war.
Salic Ibrahim, executive director of Maranao People’s Development Center said his group had given assistance to thousands of IDPs in terms of food packages, kitchen utensils, sanitation kits and psycho-social services or trauma healing in the Iligan and Marawi evacuation centers.
Donations come from AUSAid, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Catholic Relief Services and the Ntional Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
Other NGOs like Ecoweb and RDRRAC have also served home-based IDPs in Iligan. NGOs see the greater need of addressing the trauma and depression caused by the war.