DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The local town officials in Lanao del Sur are asking help from the regional and provincial government to help them address livelihood problems brought by the crisis in Marawi City that has dragged on to its 80th day since the siege laid by extremists started on May 23.
During a meeting with army officials at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol in Marawi City on Wednesday, Aug.9, Balindong town mayor, Benjamin Bagul said security restrictions have limited their town’s fishing industry. Balindong is located 16 kilometers away from Marawi City. The town has 38 barangays.
In a telephone interview with Davao Today on Thursday, Bagul said they are regulating the time of fishing from 6 am to 5 pm only.
Previously, Bagul said fisherfolks can go fishing any time of the day, when there was no conflict.
“The fishermen told me their catch is good at around 1 am until 4 am,” he said.
Bagul said to address the limitation, the local government may provide temporary jobs, including cash for work program for more or less 130 fishermen. The mayor said there are at least eight coastal barangays where fishing is the main source of livelihood of residents.
“We can hire them, at least we know them who need jobs in the area,” he said.
Balindong is also hosting 2,500 families of internally displaced persons, most of whom are residents of Marawi City.
In terms of health, Bagul said their hospital is full of patients.
“Sobra yung pasyente kasi we are catering to seven municipalities of Pualas, Ganassi, Madamba, Marantao, Tugaya, Bacolod Kalawi and Madalum. They are confined here,” he said. Bagul added he wants to discuss the issue with the regional Department of Health to know how they could give more services given the situation.
The similar situation was felt by fishing villages in Masiu town said town Mayor Nasser Pangandaman. He said they are offering temporary cash for work programs for the affected residents. Pangandaman admitted the pay is very minimal since the local government cannot afford to pay more.
“Kung ano ano lang yung maisip natin na gawin nila and then we pay them (We give them whatever jobs we can think of and we pay them),” Pangandaman told Davao Today, adding that those who avail of the cash for work program through street clearing or backyard gardening, among other jobs are paid P200 a day.
Pangandaman also said they are still awaiting action from the regional Department of Trade and Industry to monitor and address the skyrocketing prices of commodities because of the crisis.
“Unscrupulous traders are taking advantage of the situation. That’s why during the last meeting I appealed to the government to check the price escalation of basic commodities in the province,” he said.
“Talagang naapektuhan yung mga tao, hindi kayang bilihin yung commodities (The people are really affected, they cannot afford the prices of commodities),” he said.
Pangandaman said they depended on Marawi City as their main marketplace. He said Marawi City was normally 40 minutes away from Masiu. However, when the conflict started, residents have no choice but to travel several hours to reach Iligan City, Pagadian City or Cagayan de Oro City.
He said until now they are awaiting for the action from the regional government.
Masiu is a town adjacent to Marawi City. It is where Ominta Maute, the mother of the Daesh-inspired leaders of the Maute group, Omarkhayam and Abdullah, was arrested last June 10.
Masiu is now home to more than 1,400 families of IDPs. “Since the start of Marawi siege, I think twice pa lang kami nabigyan ng relief goods,” Pangandaman said.
“We are really appealing to the national government and the provincial government to look at the situation of the nearby municipalities too. We are also affected by the conflict,” Pangandaman said.
Meanwhile, the effects of the conflict have also prompted local town officials to stand up against extremists as they vow to monitor possible spillover of the conflict outside Marawi City.
Bagul said they have discussed with the Armed Forces of the Philippines the effect of the tight security measures to fishing villages.
He said Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told him the Army will discuss the matter. Galvez said he believes “it would be best to have fishermen in the lake area from time to time so that they too can also serve as watchers who will report suspicious boats to authorities.”
Bagul also said they have asked their fisher folks to register their motorized boats in the municipal government.
Bagul said they hope the conflict will be resolved the soonest possible time. “The town officials of Lanao del Sur are very much concerned with the situation in Marawi City. We will work hand in hand to address this problem,” he said.(davaotoday.com)