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MANILA, Philippines – Their primary job is to defend the the Philippines. But soldiers of the Civil Military Operations Regiment (CMO) has been offering an unusual kind of service to internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the Marawi crisis.
Instead of being engaged in firefights, they have been bringing a mobile kitchen to evacuation centers to provide hot meals for Marawi evacuees. It may not be their job to do so, but they are owning it. (READ: Lorenzana ‘confident’ Marawi siege done by end-September)
Rappler talked to the commander of the public affairs task unit of Joint Task Group Tabang, Major Jeffrex Molina. According to him, it is not only hot meals that they provide. They also make sure to speak of peace to these people, and bring them home.
The CMO is under Joint Task Group Tabang, which is tasked to rebuild Marawi City.
Providing what they need
The Marawi clashes have raged for 4 months now, and internally displaced families have been receiving the same kind of relief goods since the crisis began.
“We saw that what IDPs desire is good food or at least a hot meal,” Molina said in Filipino.
They requested to Molina’s group if they could taste hot meals. “We conceptualized the mobile kitchen,” he said.
Organizers decided the mobile kitchen should serve different places.s.
As of now, they have already visited 78 evacuation centers in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur.
Their job does not end in providing food to the evacuees. They also make sure to talk about the importance of peace in the face of the ongoing conflict.
They prepare halal food for their Muslim brothers and sisters as well.
Molina said that this helps them build trust and camaraderie with Muslims in the area, especially that Christians prepare the food.
They, too, provide psychosocial intervention to children to ease the trauma they have experienced.
Bringing hope and comfort
The main goal Molina and his men have in mind is to serve the people affected by war.
“What we really want for them to realize is the sincerity of the soldiers and that this is for their welfare,” he said.
At the end of the day, he said they want the civilians to know that the government and the soldiers care about them, and that they can go through this hard times together with them.
“It’s a big thing for us to ease their pain,” he said. – Rappler.com