The government assured Monday, October 2, that there will be sufficient resources for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lanao del Sur despite failure of military to reach its target to liberate Marawi on September 30.
Task Force Bangon Marawi Spokesperson Kristoffer James Purisima said relief assistance to IDPs continues and it will not stop even if the fighting ends.
“We’re prepared to stretch our resources and to augment our resources as needed,” said Purisima during the regular Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañan.
“Hindi tayo titigil kahit tumagal pa o malapit ng matapos ang kaguluhan sa Marawi ‘no. Hindi natin ito tinitingnan basta patuloy ang ating focus sa ating mga IDPs,” he added.
He noted the continuous construction of transitional shelters to provide IDPs with comfortable dwellings as soon as possible.
“Basta may matapos ng significant number of transitional shelters, ita-transfer na natin sila palabas ng evacuation centers papunta doon sa transitional shelter site,” said Purisima.
He said the National Housing Authority is “on target” to finish the first portion of the project, which include 1,500 transitional shelters.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the battle in Marawi might end on September 30. However, ground commanders said the conflict might extend for 10 to 15 days due to difficulty in neutralizing the remaining Maute terrorists, who spread themselves thinly within their main stronghold.
Purisima, meanwhile, said the government continues to provide trainings and livelihood for IDPs to help them recover from the Marawi siege.
Psychosocial intervention like art and play therapy, and health intervention such as water, sanitation, and hygiene services are also being conducted for the moral and psychosocial recuperation of the displaced Marawi residents.
IDPs likewise continue to get relief supplies consist of hygiene kits, clothing, food and slippers from government and other non-governmental organizations.
In an interview after Purisima, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella cited the first mass held at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi on October 1 (Sunday) noting that it was a welcome development in the government’s tenacity to liberate the Islamic city.
“Saint Mary’s Cathedral had been damaged during the siege of the city; and the terrorist group posted propaganda video of their desecration of the cathedral’s religious images. The Cathedral was retaken by government troops after 95 days of fighting and yesterday’s celebration of the Mass was a welcome development in the push to totally liberate Marawi from extremists, and restore normalcy to the lives of its residents,” he said.
“We call on all Filipinos to pray for our soldiers, displaced residents; and that we might continue to respect and live with each other peacefully,” he added.
Abella also commented on the support of the American Chamber for the tax reform program hoping that the Chamber and other business groups will also agree that the final tax reform bill to be approved by Congress will deliver all revenues needed to fund the President’s agenda for ambitious investments.
“Without these revenues, we would have to incur even more debt to finance our economic growth agenda, thereby endangering our investment grade rating, raising our borrowing cost and limiting our access to financial markets,” the Palace spokesman said.
Abella, meanwhile, condemned the fresh attacks of New People’s Army (NPA) in Sarangani, South Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Palawan and Masbate saying that their recent action “fuels the public’s doubt” about the group’s sincerity to talk peace.
The NPA reportedly abducted a tribe leader and a CAFGU member in Surigao del Sur, ambushed a military convoy in Palawan and killed a policeman in Masbate.
“The government will undertake appropriate steps to deal decisively with these forces that seem to have lost their sense of nation-building,” he said.
Abella also gave his comment on the call for the ouster of the Philippines from the United Nations Human Rights Council saying: “We respect the rights of all, including the extremely critical, to freely express their opinion of the government.”
“However, self-styled watchdogs of the Philippines’ human rights performance need to balance their call with legitimate organizations like the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC), which recognizes the work the Philippines does, given and despite its challenges,” he said.
“The UN body’s unanimous adoption of its report on its review of the Philippines last month, highlighted the Philippines’ clarification of issues brought against it by local interest groups; as well as the Philippine government’s own recommendations on how the UNHRC can further strengthen its review processes in succeeding cycles. Having said that, the Philippines, as an active member of the UNHRC and respects this body’s integrity, and will call out attempts to use it seemingly to advance certain interests and political agenda,” he added. ###PND