DAVAO CITY— Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that the agency is ready to assist Lumad evacuees who are occupying an area inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran, pending an order from President Rodrigo Duterte.
During Taguiwalo’s visit to the evacuees here Friday, the second time since assuming the Cabinet post, she said one of the priorities of the department is to help the Lumads return to their communities.
“During my first visit here, they told me their wish to go back to their communities. I have conveyed this to the President even before his inauguration and he directed me to prepare whatever the Lumad communities need when they go back to their community,” she said.
As of now, Taguiwalo said that she has already given instructions to DSWD Davao Region Director Mercedita Patillas Jabagat to provide assistance to the Lumads as soon as they go back to their communities.
Taguiwalo said that “the regional office here is ready to support the return of the Lumads once the request is met by the President.”
“Now they are ready to provide the kind of assistance they need when they settle in and start farming again, but we have to wait for the instructions of the President about the security and timing of their return in their communities,” she said.
Taguiwalo said that she still has to wait for the President because “he is the commander in chief.”
“Kung gusto natin matugunan ang hinihiling nila, tugunan natin yan. Kung gusto natin matugunan yan, dapat malinaw din sa military ito, it is not for me to talk to the military but it is up to the President to organize the kind dialogue with the respective authorities (If we want to address their demands, then let’s addressed it. But it must also be clear to the military. It is not for me to talk to the military but it is up to the President to organize the kind dialogue with the respective authorities),” she said.
Asked if there will be livelihood program to be given, Taguiwalo said that the Lumads did not wish for livelihood programs, “but end of militarization in their area.”
“Ang mga Lumads na ito very self-sufficient eh, hindi naman sila humingi, nagtayo na nga sila ng schools nila eh. Ang hinihingi lang nila, huwag sila i-militarize, huwag ibigay ang lupain nila sa mga mining companies or sa business companies. (The Lumads are self-sufficient, they didn’t wish for it. They even built their own schools. What they wish it to stop the militarization in their area and not to surrender their ancestral lands to the mining companies or business companies),” Taguiwalo said.
Taguiwalo said that the Department will act on the basis of the demands of the Lumad evacuees.
“On the recognition that the Lumad community that are here in Haran have organized themselves to provide the kind of development that they need and we should be supporting it and assisting it because one of our goals as a department is development based on people’s empowerment,” Taguiwalo said. (davaotoday.com)