Over 1,000 families displaced in Zambo standoff move to temporary shelters

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – A total of 1,056 families or 5,774 individuals displaced during the standoff between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction last year have been transferred to temporary shelters, officials said.

These families are staying in bunkhouses in the provisional sites before their eventual return to their places of origin once the rehabilitation works are completed, according to Assistant City Administrator Elmer Apolinario.

The transitional sites are located in barangays Tulungatung, Taluksangay, Upper Calarian and Rio Hondo and at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex.

Apolinario said the city government is now negotiating with lot owners for the sites of temporary shelters and permanent new homes for the displaced residents.

He said National Housing Authority (NHA) personnel have already collected data related to the rehabilitation program to finish the program within the time set by the national government.

The official said NHA will also validate information submitted by the local government.

He added the Department of Public Works and Highways has already completed its own survey of the roads and waterways damaged during the September 2013 standoff.

The two agencies are set to finalize their plans for submission to President Aquino for approval.

NHA General Manager Chito Cruz said during President Aquino’s visit here in December last year, the construction of permanent houses will take at least six months to complete.

Aquino had approved the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction and allocated P3.5 billion for the plan.

Meanwhile, Land Housing and Management Division chief Rodrigo Pagotaisidro said his office was validating the list of beneficiaries to ensure they really came from the areas affected by the standoff.

Reports hinted some families from neighboring areas have sneaked into evacuation centers “so they can avail of the program of the government.”

“This is definitely a challenge because we do not want some people to take advantage of the situation,” Apolinario stressed.

“We do not want them to benefit from our rehabilitation efforts at the disadvantage of our legitimate IDPs (internally displaced persons),” he added. (MindaNews)