MANILA–The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) office in Bohol continues to monitor the situation of families affected in military and police operations in pursuit of Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province.
“We will continue to mobilize our social workers to help the displaced locals. Our regional office is ready to welcome requests for augmentation support from affected municipalities to ease the condition of the people affected by the intense firefight,” Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said in a department news release issued Wednesday.
Taguiwalo said they are also ensuring that civilians are not wrongfully accused or tagged as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), following several incidents wherein ordinary farmers were accused of being members or supporters of the group and were subjected to human rights violations.
Although the peace and order situation in Bohol is volatile, the civil and human rights of civilians must always be upheld and respected, she said.
“The safety and welfare of our citizens always come first in situations of armed conflict. Women, children, and the elderly are the most vulnerable. In the meantime, I am also giving strict instructions to our social workers to practice extra caution as they go about their work helping those affected by the military operations against the Abu Sayyaf,” Taguiwalo said.
The conflict has affected residents of 51 barangays in the municipalities of Clarin, Inabanga, Sagbayan (Borja), and Tubigon.
DSWD-Central Visayas has already deployed staff to help 518 families consisting of 2,641 individuals staying in eight evacuation centers.
Some 113 families or 588 persons have opted to stay with relatives and friends, but are provided with family food packs and other non-food items.