IDP Protection Assessment Report - Protracted Displacement in Sulu Province (AFP vs ASG) (IDPPAR no. 03, Issue no. 03, 2019)
In June 2017, civilians from Barangay Kabbon Takas, Patikul municipality evacuated due to armed confrontations between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the alleged members of the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG). According to the Barangay Chairman, his constituents have been displaced multiple times due to frequent armed encounters. The displaced families fled from Barangay Kabbon Takas to Barangay Kan Ague, in the same municipality. Through an agreement with a private land owner, they were allowed to use a portion of a lot where they built temporary shelters and makeshift shanties to stay in while the situation was still unstable.
In January 2019, the municipal local government unit (LGU) of Patikul in coordination with the barangay LGU of Kabbon Takas had already planned the return of these families. However, this did not materialize after the bombing of the Jolo cathedral occurred later on the same month, prompting President Duterte to announce the launch of -out war against the ASG.
As of this report, more than 284 families (approximately 1,420 persons) have remained displaced for more than two (2) years. Of this total, 150 families (approximately 750 persons) are staying in the old and damaged shanties in Barangay Kan Ague, while 134 families (approximately 670 persons) are living with their relatives and friends. According to the barangay chairman, some of these families went to their relatives in neighboring barangays, and others moved as far as Jolo municipality.
The municipal LGU of Patikul continuously monitors the situation of these families and provides food assistance, despite overstretched resources. According to IDPs interviewed by local partner IRDT in October 2019, they had last received food packs sometime in February 2019. They expressed the need for immediate support, particularly shelter materials to improve their makeshift shelters, food assistance to complement the relief assistance from the MLGU, and livelihood assistance.
Since the onset of their displacement, ten (10) deaths have been recorded among the IDPs due to different illnesses, including a dengue case which was reported by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) of Sulu. The barangay chairman attributed this case to the unsafe location of the temporary shelters and the challenging living conditions.