Philippines: IDP programme extends quick relief to evacuees in Maguindanao

MAGUINDANAO - Amidst focused attention on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, a donor-funded government program today (26 July) is also taking a quick response to address the plight of civilian families displaced over last week's military operations against Abu Sayyaf group in parts of Maguindanao.
The Government of the Philippines-United Nations Development Programme-European Commission Program on Rehabilitating Internally Displaced Persons and Communities in Southern Philippines, in collaboration with the Office of Civil Defense and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council of Maguindanao, is conducting today an emergency relief operations for the internally displaced families in towns of Talayan, Guindulungan, Datu Odin Sinsuat and South Upi in Maguindanao Province affected recently by fresh conflict between government forces and suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group in the said areas.

The recent displacement is a result of the sporadic encounter between elements of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division/6th Infantry Brigade and an unidentified armed group which took place two weeks ago in Sitio Badak, Barangay Tenaggos in Datu Odin Sinsuat and affected neighboring municipalities in Maguindanao.

Food and non-food packages will be extended to some 819 internally displaced families who are now taking temporary refuge in evacuation centers set up in various municipalities in Maguindanao.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, Chair of the Mindanao Economic Development Council and National Program Director of the IDP Programme, leads the distribution of five kilos of rice, half kilo of monggo and half kilo of salted fish to each of the 400 IDP families in Sitio Kitep, Brgy. Muti, Guindulungan town and 449 IDP families in Sitio Sumangkong and Quarry in Talayan town.

"Even as she was giving attention to her SONA, President Arroyo has seriously directed me to oversee today's relief operations for the internally-displaced families in Maguindanao and make sure that peace-building is sustained in parts of Mindanao where conflicts still arise," Dureza said.

Dureza is also set to turn over four sets of farm production equipment particularly hand tractor and turtle power tiller to 13 internally-displaced barangays in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat as part of the IDP programme's aim to facilitate the complete rehabilitation of the IDPs in the area. Palimbang town is one of the areas for rehabilitation after it suffered major conflict situation on December 2004.

Implemented under MEDCo, the IDP programme targets the rehabilitation and resettlement of at least 10,000 displaced families in 15 provinces in the Autonomous Region of Muslims Mindanao (ARMM) and non-ARMM regions. The programme carries out assistance pinned on three major components, such as relief assistance and confidence-building; rehabilitation; culture of peace and access to justice.

The programme also intends to improve the condition of IDPs through provision of core shelters, potable water, sanitation facilities, health and nutrition, quick-gestating livelihoods, peace literacy and psycho-social programs.