DAVAO CITY, Philippines — An official of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Committee who is directly monitoring the situation of affected residents after the siege in Marawi City is appealing to the national government to extend more help to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced individuals.
Zia Alonto Adiong, crisis committee spokesman, told reporters Wednesday that they would like the interagency task force, that was newly created by the government to attend to the rehabilitation of the Marawi City, to be “more aggressive” in providing the needs of close to 300,000 IDPs.
Adiong highlighted the challenges which they see as the fighting drags on to its 51st day today.
“We are now entering the rainy season and we expect that there will be other problems that may arise. Problems of sanitation, problems of food and water and so we want the national leadership to take in charge of providing the needs of our IDPs,” Adiong said.
As of July 8, a total of 1,753 individuals have been rescued while 57 cadavers were retrieved. Adiong said they have recorded 33 evacuees who died of various illnesses, among these 10 died due to diarrhea with severe dehydration, six died due to stroke, five died due to sepsis, and four died due to pneumonia.
He said combined medical teams of the provincial, municipal, and city health offices are seeing depletion of resources and lack of manpower to reach other towns. He said the problem is both in distribution and supply.
“It’s actually both. When it comes to supply, we are talking about 288,896 individuals and we need to provide for their food, sanitation, medicine, beddings,” he said. Adiong said there are still a lot of areas that they do not have access yet.
During his visit to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he believes the fighting in Marawi could go for about “10 to 15 days” more. Military officials previously admitted that the fighting in the city proved a challenge for the government troops who were used in fighting in the jungle.
Duterte also said that they were surprised how the ISIS-linked Maute group and its allies have prepared for the battle with so many weapons.
“Karami ng armas. Anak ng…hindi mauubusan. Hindi maubos-ubos ang—lalo na iyong grenades, iyong ipasok dito sa iyong Armalite may tube iyan. It’s a grenade but it’s fired from a rifle,” he said.
The government however repeatedly refused to give deadlines when the fighting will conclude.
Adiong said if the fighting will drag on for a few more weeks, they are appealing to the government to deal with the crisis not only through military action.
“We also would like to appeal that this crisis should not only be dealt with by military action. We also want to appeal before the national leadership to be as aggressive as the services that they would like to extend to our IDPs in terms of humanitarian relief and medical needs of our evacuees,” he said.
He added: “We also would like the national government to be aggressive, and even more aggressive in extending medical assistance to our IDPs.”
“Fifteen days is a burden to our people in fact we have been receiving complaints that there are IDPs who are trying to get back to their home especially in the controlled areas,” he said.
Adiong said the LGU officials want to be part of the interagency task force headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for rehabilitation. He said their membership is a big help to the task force since they already have the baseline data for damage and needs assessment.
“Our membership in the Task Force shall reinforce its mandate as we already have the baseline data. Actual Damages and assessment needs can be well articulated by the offices representing the very victims of this ongoing fighting,” he said.
“Aside from the humanitarian response we delivered, we have already put it place plans and activities similar to the mandate of TF Bangon Marawi in close coordination with the various agencies,” he added.
Rehabilitation while fighting
The government’s recovery program plans to start the early rehabilitation process in the city even while the fighting is going on. The plans for a temporary resettlement area for residents are being laid out by the Inter-Agency Task Force Bangon Marawi
Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesperson said in a press briefing on Monday that the government will set up tents as temporary shelters for the IDPs.
He said the Task Force is also looking at the creation of a “single detached cottage” for those who have lost their houses in the fighting between government troops and Maute group.
He said they are hoping to implement the transition from six months to one year “until such time that the areas that they used to live will have been reconstructed and rehabilitated.” (davaotoday.com)