Fake ‘bakwits’ uncovered in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/10 April) – The local government has discovered 400 families pretending to be internally displaced persons (IDPs), or evacuees, staying along the shore of R.T. Lim Boulevard known as “Cawa-Cawa” Boulevard in this city.

Thousands of Zamboangueños were displaced September last year when hundreds of armed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members loyal to Nur Misuari staged a siege downtown that lasted almost three weeks.

Assistant City Administrator Elmeir Apolinario said that upon hearing of fake IDPs staying in the area, they immediately conducted a revalidation survey and indeed found them there.

He said some of the fake evacuees are from barangays not affected in the siege, while some are from the nearby province of Basilan and from as far as Tawi-tawi.

Apolinario said the fake “bakwits” have set up tents along the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard with the intention of availing of free food given by the government and by humanitarian agencies as well as availing free shelter from the National Housing Authority (NHA).

But he stressed that only legitimate IDPs are entitled to receive food and shelter assistance from the government.

The legitimate IDPs, he said, had been identified through mapping that was conducted earlier by the city government’s Housing and Land Management Division.

Apolinario said the fake IDPs will be ordered to vacate the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard and to return to their respective places of origin.

The recent infiltration of fake IDPs along the boulevard was the second that happened since the September 2013 siege.

Late last year, the local government ejected from the boulevard 129 families found to be fake evacuees.