Philippines

Gov’t opens Marawi operations center

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The government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), launched its operations center in Marawi, DSWD OIC-Secretary Emmanuel Leyco said on Friday, December 15.

“This shall serve as the nerve center for our operations in Marawi to make sure that the initiatives of the Department will match the requirements of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the area,” Leyco announced in the Bangon Marawi press briefing in Malacañang.

The DSWD, in particular, will focus on the recovery and re-establishment of human infrastructure in the affected communities in Marawi.

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), on the other hand, will take care of the security and physical infrastructure.

Leyco also announced that the DSWD has prepared a “portfolio of programs” in Marawi. Among them is the suspension of conditionalities for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), or the government’s conditional cash transfer, until March 2018.

“We have suspended the conditionalities that will allow them to receive even if they are not attending schools or not going to health clinics, or not even attending the family development sessions,” he said.

The other DSWD programs in Marawi were modified sustainable livelihood, social pension, supplementary feeding, and assistance to individuals in crisis programs.

In a related development, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag reported that as of December 11 another 4,159 displaced families from the eight barangays under cluster 3 were able to return to Marawi.

“That notches the total returnees up to 18,478 families or 92,390 individuals based on the records of the Marawi LGU (local government unit),” Banaag said.

‘Intervention activities’

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of The Philippines (AFP) vows to carry on its activities to help in the government’s efforts to rebuild Marawi.

“Sa ngayon po ang AFP, pangunahin sa kanyang intervention activities ay ang pag-clear pa rin ng ating mga barangays, the most affected barangays, from improvised explosive devices at saka unexploded ordnance,” AFP Spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo assured.

The armed forces is also taking preventive measures to address alleged recruitment activities of remnants of the Maute-ISIS group in Marawi and nearby vicinity.

“(M)ay namo-monitor tayong ganitong reports kaya magpapatuloy ang ating operations upang siguruhin na they will not succeed,” Arevalo said.

To counter the terrorists’ recruitment efforts, the AFP has conducted activities like countering violent extremism dialogues with the youths, youth leaders’ summit, educational tours for Muslim youths, among others.

“Ang objective ng lahat ng ito ay bigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga kababayan lalo na ang mga kabataan na ma-realize nila kung ano ang—what is extremism, how is recruitment being done by these extremists,” the AFP spokesperson clarified.

Aside from these intervention activities, the AFP tapped its combat engineers to assist in the construction of temporary shelters and public infrastructure in Marawi.

‘Solidarity activity’

In the same press briefing, HUDCC Assistant Secretary Avelino Tolentino III said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) would conduct a two-day solidarity activity on December 16 and 17 for the IDPs in selected evacuation centers and home-based communities.

The activity aims to promote the spirit of Christmas as a season of hope, love, peace, and unity for Muslims and Christians, which involve fun games, gift-giving, peace education, among others. ###PCO-Content