VP’s office reaches out to Marawi evacuees

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The Office of Vice President (OVP) Maria Leonor Robredo over the weekend turned over a water filtration device for evacuees staying at a temporary shelter in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur.

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The evacuees came from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, which has been under attack by terrorist Maute Group since May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus that allows warrantless arrests in Mindanao.

The OVP’s Angat Buhay partner Physicians for Peace provided the water filtration device.

“The Vice President has already visited Marawi before the Marawi [clashes], and we are looking at providing them [evacuees]livelihood thru weaving. We already raised funds to help in weaving production and we were supposed to turn [them]over but the Marawi incident happened. While we are proceeding with that aid for livelihood, we’ll ensure the basic needs first,” Robredo’s spokesman, Georgina Hernandez, said in an interview.

“We already sent food aid but the feedback we got is that the food supply is still not enough. We will coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development in sending more food aid, as well as doctors so that the evacuees’ health can be assessed,” Hernandez added.

She said the OVP is mulling sending sewing machines since fighting between government troops and the bandit group forced those displaced to leave in haste, preventing them from bringing enough clothes to the evacuation center.

“They thought they would only be staying in the evacuation center for two days. That’s why they are very emotional right now, and they need sewing machines to sew their clothes and hopefully in time for Eid’l Fitr. We want them to have a semblance of normalcy thru sewing,” the spokesman added.

Hernandez and other OVP staff were earlier briefed by Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, also military spokesman, and Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Bombit Alonto Adiong Jr. to discuss relief efforts and plans for rehabilitation led by local government units during their meeting at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol.

Also over the weekend, international rural and indigenous peoples’ groups from Peoples’ Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) joined the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission in Marawi City to express grave concern on the situation of the mostly Moro people in the area amid continuing firefights and bombings.

“There is a need for solidarity among peoples amid these crises to ensure that people’s human rights are upheld especially that rural, Moro and indigenous peoples are displaced and further victimized,” Beverly Longid of IPMSDL said in a statement.

“We appeal for a stop to this indiscriminate aerial bombardment. These bombs do not discern from the Maute attackers and the innocent peoples still in the area. These bombings might as well be directed against the indigenous and Moro peoples as government forces do it indiscriminately and have also directed their nozzles at lumad [indigenous people]communities in other parts of Mindanao,” Longid added.

Malacañang has welcomed the Commission on Human Rights’ statement that there are no right abuses reported in Mindanao from the declaration of martial law in the region.

“This should put the fears and anxiety of some quarters against martial law to rest. As we have said in previous occasions, public safety is foremost in the President’s mind in light of the continuing rebellion in Marawi and martial law is a necessary response to address the prevailing reign of terror and its potential spillover to the rest of Mindanao,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said also in a statement.

LLANESCA T. PANTI
 

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