The continuing joint operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has already affected the residents of 51 barangays in the municipalities of Clarin, Inabanga, Sagbayan (Borja,) and Tubigon in Bohol.
Through its Field Office (FO) in Region VII, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) already deployed staff to support the evacuation and camp management for the 518 families or 2,641 individuals who are staying in eight evacuation centers. Some 113 families or 588 persons decided to stay with relatives/friends, but are nonetheless being provided with family food packs and other non-food items.
Currently, DSWD has provided food and non-food assistance amounting to P1,134,000 to the families affected by the continued military operations.
In addition, DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the Regional Office will continue to monitor the situation of the families.
“We will continue to mobilize our social workers to help the displaced locals. Our regional office is ready to welcome requests for augmentation support from affected municipalities to ease the condition of the people affected by the intense fire fight,” she said.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that monitoring the situation also includes ensuring that civilians are not wrongfully accused or tagged as members of the ASG. She said that there have been numerous incidents wherein ordinary farmers have been accused of being ASG members or supporters and were subjected to human rights violations. She said that as volatile as the peace and order situation in Bohol, the civil and human rights of civilians must always be upheld and respected.
“The safety and welfare of our citizens always come first in situations of armed conflict. Women, children, and the elderly are the most vulnerable. In the meantime, I am also giving strict instructions to our social workers to practice extra caution as they go about their work helping those affected by the military operations against the Abu Sayaff,” she said. #