Philippines: AFP starts community dialogues to convince IDPs to return to their homes

ICC Iligan City (19 November) -- The Philippine Army in the two Lanao provinces has started to do the best it can in helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to go home to their respective origins.

This, to implement the directive of the Sec. Gilberto Teodoro of the Department National Defense (DND) which is to decongest the evacuation centers of over-staying IDPs whose children had to be put back to school for their own welfare.

Thus revealed Maj. Jul Acmad Muhalli, Officer-in-Charge of the 4th Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division (1ID), PA, who said the field commanders of the Army units under its area of responsibility (AOR), had initiated to meet the local government officials of the hinterland towns in Lanao del Norte (LDN) on such campaign.

As it turned out, the consultative dialogue with the Sec. Teodoro, during his recent surprise visit in Munai, LDN, was attended by the town President of the Associated Barangay Captains (ABC), the Municipal Administrative Officer, six (6) Punong Barangays (Captains), four (4) Sangguniang Bayan Kagawads (SB Member) and the Chief of Police.

Per agreement by the residents, the local government officials and the military, the Punong Barangays will furnish the military a list of their residents so they could be issued a safe conduct pass and extended security and transportation services in going back to their homes by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Meanwhile, among the problems presented during the dialogue with the Defense Secretary in Poona Piagapo were the lack of roads, power, water system and lot for the school buildings.

The dialogue in Poona Piagapo, another hinterland town in LDN near Munai, was attended by its Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator, five (5) Punong Barangays, four (4) SB members and Maranao religious leaders or Imams, among others. (RCA/PIA-10)