Military exec doubts number displaced in MaguindanaoBy Charlie C. Señase
DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao—A regional military commander with jurisdiction over central Mindanao is seeking a revalidation of reports by aid agencies that up to 70,864 people had been displaced by a flare-up of violence in Maguindanao last month.
Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said the number of displaced people which was also reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council appeared bloated. He did not say, however, what the more accurate figure was.
“We have to be very candid in our data gathering, especially in the number of evacuees and their locations,” he said.
Ardo said the number of evacuees from clashes triggered by attacks mounted by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters starting Aug. 5 could have been bloated by people posing as refugees to take advantage of relief goods provided to the real evacuees.
“There should be proper coordination in data and information gathering to come up with realistic figures,” he said.
Director Loreto Rirao of the Office of Civil Defense in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the number of evacuees also include people displaced by local family feuds and natural calamities.
“Getting the right figure and right information, through proper and close coordination with partner government and nongovernment agencies would save a lot of money that can be used in other priority concerns of funding institutions,” Ardo said.