Maguindanao relief goods will run out if conflict drags – ARMM

Karlos Manlupig
Maguindanao relief goods will run out if conflict drags – ARMM
The military says there is no fixed timeline for its offensive against the breakaway BIFF
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – For how long will the military offensive against the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) continue? It’s a question local officials are asking as they fear that relief supplies will run out in the coming weeks. 

Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said the regional government will work hard to provide the needs of the evacuees but this would become more problematic as the number of displaced families rises.

“If this will go on until end of the month, we will run out of supplies. It’s in the propositioning of goods that takes time. That’s why we have already requested DSWD national and UN agencies/ICRC to help. Based on our discussions during the RDRRMC meeting yesterday, there’s no exact time when the law enforcement operation against the BIFF would end,” Alamia said. 

The military said there is no fixed timeline on the offensive against the BIFF because it is a continuing law enforcement operation not just against the rebel group but also against personalities suspected to be involved in terror activities in the area.

Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said they are urging the local government units to reach out and help government forces in the operation, especially by addressing the needs of the affected communities.

“In fact, we also laud the local government units for immediately responding to the needs of the displaced residents,” Petinglay said. 

Cycle of evacuation

ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (HEART) said more than 8,236 families from 8 municipalities have now fled their homes for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

At least 7 villages were affected in the town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, displacing at least 1,641 families, while more than 2,637 families were displaced in Mamasapano town.

ARMM-HEART reported that 2,119 families were displaced in Datu Salibo town while about 1,273 families left their homes in the town of Shariff Aguak.

Around 175 families also evacuated in the town of Datu Unsay while 87 families were displaced in Datu Saudi.

Meanwhile, several towns became hosts to displaced residents including Rajah Buayan with at least 255 families and Datu Hoffer Ampatuan with 49 families.

ARMM-HEART added that 13,776 high school students and 1,813 elementary school students were also affected by the suspension of classes caused by the fighting.

On Tuesday, the regional government delivered relief goods to at least 2,885 families including the towns of Datu Saudi, Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Mamasapano.

More than 7,208 families were already given food packs since the start of the fighting.

Alamia said that the regional government’s humanitarian response follows the standards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in delivering relief goods, which has a value of P450 per food pack.

“Every time there’s a displacement, we follow the DSWD standards at P450/food pack, excluding logistical and operational expenses,” Alamia said. 

The food pack consists of rice, instant noodles and canned sardines and is being distributed per family.

Additional funds

The regional government allocated P12 million for humanitarian response this year but at the present rate of displacements ARMM has started sourcing out financial support form other offices and agencies. 

“We have a budget for relief operations alone at P12M annually for 2015. However because of the number of displacement and emergencies/humanitarian crises, we source out funding from the office of the regional governor, also help from partner agencies like the UN, ICRC. DSWD also provides relief goods. ARMM HEART is the rapid response mechanism and the operation center of the RDRRMC of ARMM. So if it’s a long term displacement, DSWD comes in,” Alamia said.

For now, the urgent need aside from food supply for the displaced residents are non-food items like facilities for water, safety and hygiene. “They need portable CRs. Gerry cans for water. Tarps. These are the non food items,” Alamia said.

Soldiers’ needs

For the needs of the operating troops, Petinglay said there is still enough supply to ensure that the government forces are still well fed even if they are on the ground. 

The military follows its allocation on subsistence allowance of P2,700 for every soldier per month, which is equivalent to P30 budget per meal.

Even if the operation will extend for a longer period of time, the military is confident that the operating troops will not run out of supply considering that the operation is supported by the general headquarters.

The present operation under the Joint Task Force Central of the Western Mindanao Command is supported by troops from the 6th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Battalion. – Rappler.com

 

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