Gov’t lacks Maranao-speaking social workers to lead psychosocial therapy of evacuees

Oct. 27, 2017

DSWD Undersecretary Luz Ilagan (Medel V. Hernani/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A high-ranking official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development said language barrier could be a problem of the department once they start conducting psychosocial intervention among hundreds of thousands of evacuees.

In an interview Wednesday, October 25, DSWD Undersecretary Luz Ilagan said they see a shortage of Maranao-speaking social workers and the agency is already planning to tap social workers from other regions in Mindanao to serve internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“While we have the experts basin ang language ang barrier so ang social worker nimo kailangan kabalo og Maranao (While we have the experts, there may be language barrier, your social worker should know how to speak Maranao),” Ilagan said, adding that they will get more social workers from other towns in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City.

Drieza Lininding, a Maranao evacuee and head of civil society organization, Moro Consensus Group, said the problem of language barrier is possible in reaching out to children who are used to speaking their mother tongue.

“I think speaking to adults will not be a problem, but to children, it could be,” he said. Maranao adults, Lininding said, can speak and understand Tagalog and Visayan.

Ilagan said aside from more personnel, the DSWD has also requested to set aside a building or shelter where the agency may conduct their psychosocial intervention activities.

Ilagan, who attended the launching of the Kilos Sambayanan campaign in Barangay Talomo here on Wednesday, said they recently conducted an inter-agency meeting in Iligan City to discuss their preparation for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

She said once the military gave them a clearance, the DSWD teams will enter the city prior to the return of some residents who are coming to Marawi by batches.

Ilagan said the focus of the DSWD are the persons affected by the conflict.

“It’s not only the area that has been damaged. It’s the person. The inhabitant has been damaged so how do you put that person together again so that he or she can recover,” she said.

Aside from the challenge on the language barrier, Ilagan said they are also cleansing the lists of IDPS both home-based and those in evacuation centers.

“Right now we are creating a masterlist of IDPs. The list is being reconciled with the list of other agencies,” she said. Initially, the DSWD has listed around 77,000 IDPs. The Task Force Bangon Marawi said some 6,463 evacuees may start returning to Marawi City on October 29 to nine barangays.

Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense on Friday, October 27 said they will soon present the results of the Damages and Losses Assessment under the Comprehensive Post-Conflict Needs Assessment which has been completed in Clusters 1 to 10 composed of 49 barangays.

“For the remaining barangays in the main battle area, we are awaiting for the conclusion of the clearing operations to be determined by the AFP,” he said.

A family of IDPs will be given relief assistance including food packs, family tents, hygiene kits, dignity kits, malong, mosquito nets, plastic mats, blankets, sets of kitchen utensils, among others.

Ilagan said they have rented additional warehouses in Iligan City to keep the aids for Marawi evacuees. The DSWD, she said, requested an estimate of P3 billion fund from the Department of Budget Management.

In a statement on Wednesday, DSWD Disaster Response and Management Bureau Director Felino Castro reported said as of October 23, the DSWD has provided affected families with ₱518,153,407.97 worth of relief assistance, including food and non-food items). Castro said the amount includes “₱355,964,158.28 provided by DSWD; ₱51,480,815.00 has been provided by DSWD-ARMM; ₱62,558,155.00 has been provided by ARMM-HEART; ₱21,791,876.90 has been provided by LGUs; and ₱26,358,402.79 has been provided by NGOs (non-government organizations).”

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