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COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has moved to establish a comprehensive framework to protect the rights and welfare of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as regional officials noted a dramatic increase in their number in recent years.
A proposed regional law, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Bill No. 32, has been certified as a priority piece of legislation, to protect both Muslim and non-Muslim residents who have been displaced within BARMM’s political territory.
The proposed Rights of Internally Displaced Persons of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Act aims to address concerns about their safety, access to basic needs, healthcare, education, and livelihood.
Public consultations were recently held in Marawi City and Cotabato City, providing a platform for IDPs, community leaders, and other stakeholders to be heard by members of the Bangsamoro parliament.
The BARMM Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) presented alarming figures during the consultations to emphasize the need for measures to help the IDPs.
In 2022 alone, BARMM data showed that as many as 127,826 people were displaced throughout the region due to natural disasters and armed conflicts. The data showed that last year’s IDPs due to natural disasters reached 58,915, while BARMM counted 68,911 others due to armed conflicts, which include clan feuds.
BARMM parliament member Raisa Jajurie said key provisions of the bill would ensure the IDPs‘ access to basic needs, the right to health and education, freedom of movement, recognition and replacement of documents, and security and protection for IDPs.
She said the proposed measure would also ensure immediate relief and humanitarian assistance to IDPs, their families, and communities.
Jajurie said more consultations are scheduled to take place in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in the coming weeks.
She said she expects that a committee report would be presented to the region’s legislature in July.
Marawi Rescue Team head Samira Gutoc, a 2022 senatorial candidate and an IDP herself, said the bill’s provisions would foster an environment conducive to protecting conflict victims and promoting economic growth.
The proposed legislation places significant responsibility on the regional government, its ministries, agencies, offices, and local governments to execute the mandate effectively.
While there is currently no national law in the Philippines specifically addressing the rights of IDPs, regional efforts play a crucial role in establishing mechanisms and sustainable solutions, BARMM officials said. – Rappler.com