As the military starts to wrap up its operations in Marawi City, Task Force Bangon Marawi continues to provide relief assistance to affected communities and at the same time trains individuals to provide them livelihood, an Office of Civil Defense official said on Monday, September 18.
“Relief operations are still ongoing through the Office of Civil Defense, our Social Welfare and Development Department and the Philippine Army in Iligan City,” said Romina Marasigan, chief and spokesperson of the Office of Civil Defense’s Public Affairs Office, during a press briefing in Malacañan.
Marasigan said the Task Force is assisting not only the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in evacuation centers, but also those that are home-based.
Task Force Bangon Marawi Executive Director Undersecretary Cesar Yano has inspected the Social Welfare and Development warehouse in Initao, Misamis Oriental to ensure adequate supply of food packs for the IDPs, according to Marasigan.
Aside from relief distribution, the Task Force is also doing psychosocial intervention in partnership with Mindanao State University, Marawi Sultanate League, Pantar local government unit, and the Marawi Council of Ulama.
To assist IDPs in their livelihood, Marasigan reported that 145 IDPs have already undergone skills training on cake making, massage therapy and carpentry. Some 946 IDPs who want to venture on agribusiness were also given seeds.
Several Marawi IDPs will also participate in the Diyandi Festival in Iligan City where they will be given stalls to showcase their goods at the Diyandi Fiesta Park, which will run for 45 days.
Marasigan added that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has also expressed willingness to assist the IDPs through livelihood programs.
The construction of transitional shelters is also ongoing, according to Marasigan. But while the construction is being done, the International Organization for Migration has inaugurated alternative dwelling spaces, she said.
At least 137 families were transferred to the newly inaugurated dwelling spaces aimed at decongesting the evacuation centers in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte.
“Our Task Force sub-committees and support groups shall continue to coordinate our efforts on ground and will be actually having an update to be given to our Chairperson of the Task Force Secretary Delfin Lorenzana,” she said.
Joining Marasigan Monday was Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who gave an update on the situation in Marawi.
As of Sunday, September 17, the military killed 673 enemies and recovered 699 firearms. Government forces were also able to clear seven buildings in the last 24 hours and 28 buildings the day prior, he said.
Padilla said the clearing operations are tedious and are being slowed down by the presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left by the enemies.
“In fact, the street-to-street fighting is ongoing as of this moment and our forces are focused and determined to push the envelope so that soon we can say that Marawi is totally liberated,” he said.
Padilla also made an assurance that enemies who want to surrender could turn themselves in and they will be treated fairly.
He stressed that the military strictly adheres to its rules of engagement and respects the rights of everyone. ###PND