MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) – The influx of people pretending to be residents displaced by the Marawi Siege two years ago, led to the May 22 suspension of the ‘Kathanor’ profiling of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and there is “no definite date yet” on when it will resume, Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, field office manager of Task Force Bangon Marawi, said.
“Maraming fake IDP” (there are many fake IDPs), said Castro. He told MindaNews. they had to suspend on May 22 because during this last schedule for May 20 to 31, an unusually high number of people came to the field office even as they were not residents of Marawi City and specifically, not residents of the 250-hectare, 24-barangay Ground Zero, the main battle area between government forces and the IS-linked Maute Group in the five-month war from May to October 2017, now referred to as the Most Affected Area (MAA).
As of May 20, a total of 44,497 households of IDPs inside and outside the MAA had been profiled since October 7 last year, Castro said.
Of this number, 15,677 were from the MAA and 15,584 had been given 73,000 pesos assistance – 53,000 pesos for the transitory family support package and 20,000 for livelihood settlement grant — during the payout from April 6 to May 24. The 93 other profiled households in the MAA qualified to receive the assistance have not come to collect it.
Marawi residents displaced by the siege but outside the MAA can avail of 20,000 pesos livelihood assistance but the payout for this has yet to be scheduled, Castro said.
He said Kathanor was supposed to have ended in March and the May 20 to 31 schedule was supposedly only for those with grievances or complaints or those who were unable to meet the schedules for their barangays.
No problem until…
He said there was no problem in the profiling process from October 2018 to March 2019. The problem on fake IDPs, he said, surfaced during the May 20 to 31 schedule when “doon dumagsa” (people came in droves).
Last Thursday, exactly two years from May 23, 2017 (Day 1 of the Marawi Siege), Housing Secretary and TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario told a press conference at the 103rd Infantry Brigade that they “discovered there are so many individuals pretending to be Meranaw residents” and that a director of the National Bureau of Investigation himself overheard those falling in line instruct people on what to asnwer.
Del Rosario said they also discovered that some receipts presented as proof of residence, supposedly from utility firms such as light and water, and even police clearances were fake.
He said a barangay official was found to have colluded with a non-resident he certified to be a resident of his barangay, allegedly in exchange for half of what the non-resident would get.
Using biometrics, the Kathanor (organization) profiling collects data on the number, location and status of Marawi residents displaced by the siege, as well as those who have returned to Marawi, which TFBM then consolidates, to come up with an accurate database to improve its delivery of services and to help design better programs and projects for the recovery of Marawi.
Kathanor aims to correct the inaccuracies of the previous listings, which included multiple registrations, fraud and other irregularities in the IDP database.
From other towns
“With due respect, there are some reports na maraming nag-aapply even outside Marawi City or from different municipalities are also applying to undergo biometric process so alam naman natin bakit ganon maybe because of some gain,” Mayor Majul Gandamra said.
Gandamra was referring to the 73,000 pesos financial assistance given to owners and sharers of structures in Ground Zero who have already been profiled.
Del Rosario said the mayor and the barangay captains have to ensure that those given certificates by the barangay chairs are genuine residents of Marawi “otherwise magkaroon ng bloated figures ang Marawi City.”
“Nagiging rampant (it became rampant) so when I arrived yesterday here in Marawi, I was surprised that a kilometer away before reaching field office, there were so many vehicles and motercycle tricycles around. I was thinking celebration or some sort of a fiesta in MSU only to find out those people were lined up in our field office because they would like to be profiled (when) most of them are not real residents in Marawi City,’’ he said.
He stressed the need to conduct a re-validation so that those who submitted fake documents will be disallowed. He said the Department of Interior and Local Government will be calling on officials of the 24 barangays in the MAA and will suspend them if they issue certificates of residency to those who were not residents of their villages before the siege.
Del Rosario said those already profiled, numbering some 45,000, came in trickles since October.
On the average, he said, around 200 to 300 submitted themselves to profiling but “just the other day, it’s thousands. Biglang dumaami ang dumating so we had to stop .” He said Castro coordinated with the mayor before suspending it.
He said the DILG as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines “will help the barangay captains so that we can ensure that only credible residents will be profiled and be given assistance by the government.”
“Naging magnet kasi yung 20,000 and 53,000 pesos na ibinibigay pati kapitbahay nakatira sa ibang municipalities (The 20,000 and 53,000 pesos assistance being given became a magnet and so even those living in other municipalities) … all of a sudden they would like to be profiled also,” he said.
In ‘Kathanor,’ IDP household heads and members aged five and above are required to go to the venue together for the process; those aged 14 and above must present two government-issued IDs and they are supposed to register on dates scheduled for their barangays.
The TFBM listed eight steps in the process: get a priority number at the registration desk; attend the Kathanor orientation; submit two valid government ID at the Identification and Residency Screening Desk; complete handwashing for fingerprint readability; fingerprinting; photo-taking; interview with the heads of household; and return priority number and submit Kathanor form. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)