The government should provide the basic needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zamboanga, including livelihood and housing projects, said vice presidential spokesperson and lawyer Rico Quicho on Friday.
“Vice President Jejomar Binay has vowed to help the families affected by the Zamboanga siege. The current administration has yet to give back even just a sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected. And with each passing day, it becomes more and more urgent to help bring these people back on their feet.” Quicho said.
He said that two years after the bombing of Zamboanga, the government’s slow response has caused some 17,000 IDPs to remain languishing in evacuation centers.
“Much like what happened to the survivors of typhoon Yolanda, the non-completion of livelihood and housing projects for Zamboanga residents affected by the bombing in 2013 had forced them to continue to stay in evacuation centers,” he added.
Quicho said according to the Zamboanga City Social Welfare and Development Office, 16,989 individuals comprising 3,051 families are still languishing in evacuation centers as of September 2.
“The massive displacement of Zamboanga residents and the destruction of property—the damage wrought by the conflict—could have been avoided if the administration, represented by Secretary Roxas in Zamboanga, had opted for a peaceful resolution to the problem. Instead, they decided to flush out the rebels through bombings,” he said.
Quicho said the Zamboanga IDPs are casualties of the Aquino administration’s refusal then to agree to the Vice President’s suggestion to negotiate a ceasefire, instead of bombing parts of Zamboanga.
At the peak of the siege, the Vice President proposed the idea of brokering a ceasefire with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari, who was his classmate at the University of the Philippines Diliman.