Gov’t misses own deadline to relocate Zamboanga City siege victims
MANILA, Philippines—The government failed to meet its Dec. 15 deadline to relocate all families displaced by the 2013 Zamboanga City siege to permanent homes due to delays in the construction of houses and other factors.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), however, stressed that the efforts of local officials, national agencies and international humanitarian aid groups should still be recognized.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said they would continue to provide assistance to the affected families until all victims are able to stay in permanent homes.
In a statement, Soliman said 1,300 families were still staying at the Zamboanga Grandstand from a bigger number of 2,800 families in January.
“Some we have already moved to permanent shelters, while others to temporary shelters as they await the permanent ones. This is still a very significant accomplishment,” she said.
Soliman made the comments following Tuesday’s turnover of 40 bunkhouses and 14 single detached housing units in Masepla, Mampang which were constructed by the 52nd Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army with funding from the DSWD and the International Organization for Migration.
Earlier, she said the government would relocate the affected families to permanent housing by Dec. 15, or more than a year after the Zamboanga City siege in September last year.
The National Housing Authority now targets to build all permanent shelters by the middle of next year while the DSWD aims to relocate those still in evacuation centers to transitory sites by January 2015.
Soliman cited the setback in the construction of houses and cultural concerns as contributing factors to the delay.
“For example, there are 300 families who cannot go to a certain transitional area because of clan conflict. So they would not move out of the evacuation center,” she said.
In some cases, some evacuees did not want to transfer to temporary shelters for fear that they would not be given permanent houses.
Soliman said they had explained to the displaced families particularly those in transitory sites that their arrangements were only temporary, and that they would be moving to permanent, sturdier homes.
She pointed out that in the case of the Zamboanga Grandstand, not all evacuees there were all victims of the bloody siege.
Only those affected by the siege and previously listed in the local government’s database would be given permanent housing, Soliman stressed.
So far, the DSWD has provided a total of P438.75 million in assistance to affected families, which include P95.5 million for transitional shelters and P8.75 million for the balik-probinsiya, balik-barangay, house rental and home materials assistance programs.
Meanwhile, P318 million was spent on food packs and non-food items, cash and food-for-work programs, and other basic series such as financial and educational aid, and P16.5 million for the capital seed funds and skills training.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.