Cost of war evacuation: P1M a day
COTABATO CITY—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is spending at least P1 million a day to feed villagers displaced by the government’s all-out offensive against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members.
Lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary and chair of the region’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (Heart), said as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the number of displaced persons was at least 41,180 individuals housed in different evacuation sites in Maguindanao province.
Alamia said the regional government’s humanitarian response follows the standards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in delivering relief goods, which are worth P450 per pack.
The food pack consists of rice, instant noodles and canned sardines and is being distributed per family.
The regional government has allocated P12 million for humanitarian response this year but at the rate people are being displaced by the ongoing war, ARMM has started seeking financial help from other offices and agencies.
Alamia said DSWD is expected to enter the picture of “it’s a long-term displacement.”
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Tuesday said the government operations against BIFF, an armed group of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members, could last until June.
At least 10 tons of relief goods composed of rice, noodles, canned goods, dried fish and ready-to-eat food packs have been distributed to the evacuees since Saturday.
Hataman said he fears more difficult days ahead for the evacuees.
“If, indeed, the military operations would last until June, the government would be spending at least P111 million to feed more than 8,000 families,” said Hataman.
Authorities said more evacuees are fleeing their homes in the interior villages of eight Maguindanao towns.
Alamia said the regional government would work hard to meet the needs of evacuees, but expressed worry that supply could not catch up with the influx of evacuees if the war lasts for more than a month.
According to Alamia, the DSWD and other government agencies are coordinating to keep conditions in evacuation centers livable.
Aside from food, however, evacuees also need facilities for water and hygiene.
Soldiers taking part in the war on BIFF, according to a military spokesperson, are also being given adequate food supply.
According to Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said each soldier gets P2,700 in subsistence allowance per month, which would give him P30 per meal.
Petinglay said even if the war is prolonged, the military is confident that it would not run out of supply for soldiers.
Petinglay refused to reveal the number of soldiers involved in the war on BIFF, saying it is classified information. Karlos Manlupig and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao
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