A month, one week, and six days after the military operations against the Maute terrorist group inside Marawi City began, a team from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) led by DSWD-Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) Director Felino O. Castro V was finally able to enter and deliver assistance to about 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in seven barangays in the city.

Yesterday, after the courtesy call with Mindanao State University (MSU) System President Mr. Habib W. Macaayong, the Department, in coordination with Marawi City Links and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Lanao del Sur, led the distribution of Ramadhan Packs and administration of Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards (DAFAC) to the affected families at the Provincial Capitol.

Aside from the distribution of food packs, affected children were given treats from Chocolate Haven, a store based in Koronadal City, while their parents went through DAFAC profiling so they can afterwards access other government services.

Several DSWD personnel also conducted monitoring visits to nine evacuation centers in the areas of Pantar, Saguiaran, Pantao Ragat, Balo-i, and Iligan City. They went to gather information and listen to the issues and concerns of IDPs. They also provided KALANGKAPAN tarpaulins, which explain the process of DAFAC registration.

Likewise, a site visit was held in Barangay Sagongsongan, Marawi City by officers from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region X, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the DSWD to discuss development concerns for the proposed 10-hectare site for transitional shelters of IDPs.

Meanwhile, DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the Department continues to rush the process of delivery of family food packs, dignity kits, and malongs which will be sent to IDPs inside the war-torn city. She also said that the DSWD is closely working with the Department of Health (DOH) to put in place sanitary and health safeguards in the evacuation centers by giving the evacuees instructions on how to maintain the cleanliness of their environs, as well as by providing them cleaning and disinfecting materials. DSWD staff and volunteers also engaged in clean-up activities in the evacuation centers.

“We continue to encounter many difficulties in delivering assistance to our kababayans displaced from Marawi. Most of the evacuees from the city are home-based IDPs who are scattered across many different barangays. We are doing the best that we can in coordination with local government units and barangays to reach the communities of the IDPs so we can process the release of assistance to them,” she said.

The Secretary also said that donations for citizens displaced from Marawi that have been coursed through the DSWD are being strictly monitored. She clarified, however, that while the DSWD has not released any official call for donations, many Filipinos working overseas have been asking how to send assistance in cash and in kind. She said that several embassies in the Middle East have released the said guidelines and posted them on their social media pages.

“For this reason, we are informing the public of the guidelines pertaining to donations, and other government agencies are helping spread these guidelines to ensure that people who want to send donations are properly informed and guided,” she said.  “Even our embassies and consulates are aware of the guidelines because they are the ones receiving requests for information as to how they can donate. It is true that the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City will require billions, and we need all the assistance that we can get,” she added.

Those who want to extend help to the affected families may still donate through the DSWD. For food and non-food items from the National Capital Region (NCR), send the donations to the DSWD NROC at Chapel Road, Pasay City, Metro Manila with telephone number (02) 511 1259. NROC is open Mondays to Fridays from 6AM to 6PM.

For interested donors from Mindanao, send the donations to the DSWD Field Office in Region X located at Masterson Ave., Upper Carmen 9000 Cagayan de Oro City with telephone numbers (88) 858-8134 and 858-6333 or at Field Office XII located at Poblacion, Koronadal City, South Cotabato with telephone number (083) 228 6080.

Meanwhile, foreign cash donations can be deposited to bank account number 3124-0055-81 with account name DSWD FOREIGN DONATION and swift code TLBPPHMMXXX. Peso cash donations, on the other hand, can be deposited to bank account number 3122-1011-84 with account name DSWD DONATION at Land Bank of the Philippines, Batasan Branch, Constitution Hills, Quezon City.

Donors should notify DSWD-Finance Management Service (FMS)/ Cash Division (CD) of their donation through phone or email. Kindly send the validated deposit slip together with your information (name, nationality, and address) to finance@dswd.gov.ph and cash@dswd.gov.ph or fax to 931-8127.

Nagsimula na pong pumasok ang tulong mula sa ibang bansa para sa mga kababayan natin na napilitang lumikas mula sa Marawi. Sama-sama po nating alamin at i-monitor ang mga paggagamitan ng milyon-milyong pisong assistance at donations na ito, at sama-sama din nating tiyakin na aabot ang mga ito sa mga tunay na nangangailangang mamamayan ng Marawi (Humanitarian assistance from other countries are now coming in for our displaced kababayans from Marawi. We urge the public to help us monitor how the government plans to use the millions worth of assistance and donations, and ensure that the aid will be received by those who are genuinely in need of assistance),” Sec. Taguiwalo said. ###