Distribution of PhilHealth cards to serve as bakwits’ ID document set for Oct. 24

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 October) —  Marawi residents displaced by the war will soon receive Philhealth cards to serve as their identification documents, as they prepare to return home.

“The primary objective of the project is to provide identification documents to the Marawi IDPs (internally displaced persons) most of whom left their identification documents in their haste to flee their homes,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a media advisory.

Evacuees (IDPs, also known as ‘bakwits’) in Pantao Ragat town in Lanao del Norte who filled out and submitted their PhilHealth Membership Regirstration Form (PMRF) form on October 19 to 23 will receive their cards on Tuesday, October 24, at the municipal town hall there.

Evacuees from Marawi City line up while waiting for the distribution of goods at the covered court in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte on Tuesday, 30 May 2017. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

The UNHCR said that during its Protection Monitoring visits, evacuees expressed their need to have ID cards, citing restriction on their movement which also prevents them from seeking livelihood and employment. They also expressed fear of being arbitrarily arrested and detained.

“It is in this respect that PhilHealth was engaged to issue identification cards to member and qualified non-member IDPs. The cards shall serve as documents proving their identity and shall address restriction to their mobility which prevents them from seeking livelihood and employment,” the UNHCR said.

Pantao Ragat was selected as the pilot municipality for this collaboration of the UNHCR,  Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development, the local government unit of Pantao Ragat, Catholic Relief Services, and SMART Communications.

As part of their community preparation, evacuees in Pantao Ragat were asked to file their applications at the town hall with the assistance of PhilHealth representatives and UNHCR staff and volunteers.

Volunteers were also mobilized to visit evacuation centers in Pantao Ragat from October 20 to 23 to assist evacuees who were unable to attend the community preparation, in filing their application forms.

While completing their forms, evacuees are asked if they would like to register to an SMS broadcast service powered by SMART that provides information to evacuees and also for the government and humanitarian actors to effectively disseminate information they want to share with the displaced population.

The service also aims to offer a mechanism for evacuees to raise any concerns they have regarding their displacement through a phone number where they could send their queries and concerns.

Residents in nine barangays on the western side of Marawi — Basak Malutlut, East Basak, Datu Saber, Green (Buadi Sacayo), Matampay, Moriatao Loksadato, Panggao Saduc, Poblacion and Tampilong, are expected to return to their villages on October 25 or 26, after barangay officials shall have accomplished the requirements needed, Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of the Task Force Ranao, told a press briefing on Sunday, October 22.

Among these requirements is a master list of residents that will be verified by the military and police.

Brawner said barangay officials will be represented in the village checkpoints to ensure only residents return.

“We will make sure the non-residents would not be able to join them and maybe create havoc or crate a scenario here in Marawi City,” he said. (MindaNews)