Zambo City refugees still not cleared to return home
The refugees from Zamboanga City will start their trek back home once their mayor, Beng Climaco, confirms that it’s safe for them to do so.
“Aron sad dili sayang og kwarta dapat i-sure sa nga okay na didto kay basin og dili pa okay mobalik sila dire ma doble ang gasto (So that we won’t waste money, we have to make sure that it’s okay there. If it’s not, then we’ll spend double if they come back here),” Ester Concha, chief of the Cebu City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) said yesterday.
Concha said Mayor Climaco and Cebu City mayor Michael Rama have talked about the plight of the 60 people who sought refuge in Cebu City, but there was no confirmation yet from the Zamboanga mayor whether it was already safe for them to return to their homes in barangay Talon-Talon which was one of the villages overrun by the Moro National Liberation Front rebels..
If the area is safe to return to, Concha said each refugee will be given P1,000 to pay for their boat fare.
The DSWS provided relief goods to the Zamboanga City refugees who have been staying at Tres de Abril for nearly two weeks.
One of the refugees, Angel Angeles Jr., told Cebu Daily News he wants to go home so that they can begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
“We don’t have money, I need to go home for work and earn money for our needs,” he said.
Angeles, a 54-year-old truck driver delivers fish from Zamboanga City to Davao City thrice a week.
He arrived in Cebu City with his wife and three children. A son was left behind in Zamboanga City. The refugees made it to Cebu using his truck which is now being used as a makeshift sleeping quarters.
“My son called and told me that establishments in Zamboanga City are already open. The temperature in Cebu is really different from Zamboanga’s, here in Cebu it is very hot,” Angeles said.
The refugees earlier noted that their presence was met with suspicion by residents, who believed they were MNLF members despite their bringing children with them.
Earlier Mayor Rama pledged to allocate P5 million in assistance to the Zamboanga City after it was wracked by conflict initiated by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction loyal to its founder Nur Misuari.
Aside from “random stragglers,” Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas said government forces still need to clear 30 to 40 hectares of rubble before they can allow the refugees to return home. /Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Correspondent
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