Humanitarian group in Bukidnon eyes mission to Leyte

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 November) – The private sector-led 1 Bukidnon Help Movement is planning to send a four-team humanitarian mission to Leyte to help in relief and other services there, Dr. Policarpio Murillo, a Valencia City councilor told MindaNews via telephone Monday.

The group has recently returned from a humanitarian mission to Bohol, distributing aid and conducting medical and psychological support services in six barangays badly hit by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last month.

Murillo, the group’s lead convener, said the mission will travel to Leyte, worst-hit by super typhoon Yolanda, on November 22 to 26 with an advance party travelling on Nov. 16 to do selection of areas and other preparations.

He said they will give aid to survivors in areas based on the criteria “badly hit” and “under-served.”

The mission will be composed of four teams – medical, relief distribution, stress or trauma debriefing, and logistics.

Murillo said they will only send half of the 41 members of the Bohol mission teams and ask new volunteers to join.

1 Bukidnon Help Movement describes itself in Facebook as an umbrella organization of various Bukidnon-based groups and individuals that are mobilized to help.

Murillo said they started in 2011 to respond to the need for relief missions after typhoon Sendong hit northern Mindanao.

He said they have called for donations and are starting to accept today, Tuesday, at the NVM Mall in Valencia and other drop-off points.

Asked why the group did not go to Leyte immediately after Yolanda, Harvey Maraguinot of Gawad Kalinga who will head the advance party said their partners in Leyte advised them against sending ordinary volunteers as they might be mobbed.

Looting of business establishments has been reported in Leyte in the past days owing to the scarcity of food and other basic items. Security forces have been beefed up in the area to restore order.

“It is still very difficult now with no electricity and water. They are setting up command centers in the area, temporary toilets, and tents as sleeping quarters for ordinary volunteers,” Maraguinot said.

Without the basic necessities, he added, the volunteers might only add burden to their hosts.

He said they are taking time to gather more goods from donors.

The group plans to distribute food and hygiene packs like they did in their recent mission to Bohol, which was also hit by Yolanda.

Murillo said their mission teams distributed a total of 2,198 food packs and hygiene kits in six “badly hit” and “under-served” barangays in from October 29 to November 1, and extended a total of P800,000 worth of goods and services.

A food pack is composed of three kilos of rice, three canned goods, three packs of instant noodles, a gallon of mineral water, and packs of biscuits and coffee.

Each hygiene kit is composed of tooth brush, tooth paste, soap, vitamins, medicines and medical supplies.

Murillo thanked the donors and said they asked permission that donations intended for Bohol, which came when the teams had already left be used for the Leyte mission.

He said Trans-Asia Shipping Lines had waived cargo fees and gave them discounts for the handling of the relief goods.

Other institutions and individuals also helped the group pursue its mission in Bohol, he added.

The Valencia City Chamber of Commerce and Industry took charge of the group’s finance committee, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bukidnon Chapter of legal matters, and the Bukidnon Medical Society of the medical mission.

Murillo said Gawad Kalinga and the Singles for Christ handled the stress debriefing sessions, adding many of the volunteers were teachers. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)