MANILA, Philippines – Civil society leaders affected by the crisis in Marawi City urged the national government to fast-track the release of the cash assistance they are expecting to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
The Ranao Rescue Team said on Thursday, June 22, that evacuees are having a hard time accessing the cash aid provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) because they lack the required documents.
The DSWD earlier said it would distribute P5,000 to each family affected by the ongoing clashes in Marawi City. P1,000 will used for their celebration of the end of Ramadan on Monday, June 26, while the remaining amount will be for their transportation and other needs.
"In such a calamity and in the face of Ramadan, we appeal to the humanitarian heart of government to assist evacuees in this time of need and suffering," said the Ranao Rescue Team.
They stressed they need the money ahead of June 26 because families have to prepare as well as buy food and clothes for Eid'l Fitr, a joyous occasion when Muslims end their month-long fasting. (READ: How to help Marawi evacuees through DSWD)
The group asked the DSWD to set up a one-stop shop processing of requirements for the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Ranao Rescue Team spokesperson Samira Gutoc-Tomawis explained that the current process requires evacuees to have a certification signed by the barangay and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial director.
After the validation at the local government level, the DSWD will issue a Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC) required to get the cash assistance.
"They cannot call all these people because they are also bakwits (evacuees), that's the difficulty," Gutoc-Tomawis said, adding that the affected families also do not have money for transportation to look for these officials.
"We are [hoping] for a national command from Manila so that the local offices will be pushed to move," she said.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said in a briefing at Malacañang Palace earlier on Thursday that they are trying their best to expedite the release but "within parameters" since it's difficult to proceed without proper validation.
"Right now, there's a system. They have started it. The evacuation centers in Iligan have completed the processing yesterday. They are moving now," Taguiwalo said.
She added that they are having a hard time reaching home-based IDPs, who constitute 95% of those who fled their homes.
The DSWD has also assigned personnel on a shifting basis to conduct validation during weekends for faster processing. It is also coordinating with local offices regarding the situation.
As of June 21, there have been 69,434 families displaced due to the conflict, which began on May 23. So far, the month-long clashes have left 65 soldiers and policemen dead. The military also said 258 terrorists have been killed, while 26 civilians were killed by terrorists. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)