KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/07 May) — Assistance to internally displaced persons, or bakwits, due to the armed conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reached a staggering P1.2 billion, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.
In a statement, the OPAPP said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development poured P688 million, with the United Nations and other international non-government organization contributing P447 million.
Other national government offices and local government units extended P62 million and P14 million, respectively, it added.
“The convergence is a mix of early recovery and rehabilitation projects, relief packages, cash-for-work, livelihood assistance, and other infrastructure-based projects,” the statement said.
The OPAPP press release, however, did not indicate if the P1.2 billion is the total accumulated since 2008 or since the start of the Aquino administration on June 30, 2010. MindaNews asked the OPAPP media for clarification but no answer has been given as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
War erupted anew in several parts of Mindanao in 2008 following the botched signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.
The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre noted in an April 2009 report that the internal displacement of 600,000 residents in Mindanao in 2008 was the “the biggest new displacement in the world” out of 4.2 million newly displaced during the year.
Data from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Program Management Office showed that as of March 29, 2011, there were still 54 evacuation centers left in Maguindanao where 5,134 families sought refuge.
OPAPP Assistant Secretary Jehanne Mutin recently handed over an initial P10 million for the construction of 2,359 core shelter units in Maguindanao to ARMM executive secretary Naguib Sinarimbo.
They are expected to be completed and distributed to beneficiaries this year, Mutin said.
The amount was sourced from the President’s Social Fund allocated for the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peace and Resilient Communities) or PAMANA program spearheaded by OPAPP, the statement said.
Core shelters for the bakwits in Maguindanao are due for construction this year in the towns of Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
The first batch of 10 core shelter units was recently turned over to beneficiaries in the town of Talayan.
The beneficiaries each received certificates of ownership, a sack of rice, and basic home implements for use in the communal WASH (water supply, sanitation and hygiene) facilities.
The non-government organization Mindanao Tulong Bakwet, which constructed the 10 core shelters, also pitched in on the implements, while the Talayan LGU’s counterpart was the gravelling and household electrification.
PAMANA is a complementary track to the peace talks being pursued by the current administration. It seeks to reduce poverty, improve governance, and empower communities through a convergence of efforts from national government agencies, LGUs, international and local development partners, and civil society organizations. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)