MANILA, Aug. 11— The government task force mandated to spearhead the reconstruction and recovery of Marawi assured the public of its unremitting efforts to address the “human side” of the city’s post-conflict rehabilitation phase.
In a press briefing in Malacañan on Friday, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima stressed that the government is taking a more “proactive approach” to rehabilitate communities affected by the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao.
He said Task Force Bangon Marawi remains focused on promptly responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently staying in evacuation centers and even those who are home-based.
“Remember our stance, whenever there are disasters, whether natural or man-made, proactive tayo. We do not wait to respond. We prepare in order to prevent anything from escalating,” Purisima said.
Purisima said that on top of the physical aspects of the city’s reconstruction, the government will do all it can to provide the mental health and psychosocial services that the IDPs need.
“Alam naman natin na dahil matagal na ang ating mga kababayan sa evacuation centers, syempre meron din silang mga nararamdaman… I’d like to believe that is part of our psychosocial intervention… to understand what they’re feeling,” Purisima noted.
“Kasama ‘yan doon sa sinabi ko… na ‘human side’ ng ating Post-Conflict Needs Assessment. Kasi we’re not just rebuilding a city. We’re rebuilding the lives of people and communities,” he added.
To date, Purisima said around 30,000 displaced Filipinos have availed of the government’s mental health and psychosocial services, which include psychosocial first aid, stress debriefing, and psychiatric treatments to varying age groups.
Purisima clarified that although they do not consider the mental health situation among IDPs as alarming, they are nevertheless prepared to go beyond the basic services and intensify their response for more serious mental health cases.
“I should note that there are a few recorded cases of mental issues. But these were addressed by DOH (Department of Health)… And if there are documented cases, we will respond accordingly,” he assured.
“Kung may kailangan na heightened or elevated level of response or intervention, ibibigay natin ‘yun. Kung kailangan ng most basic, ibibigay rin natin ‘yun… All I can assure the people is that we are providing everything we can for our IDPs on the ground,” he added.
Meanwhile, Purisima said the Singapore Ministry of Defense handed over relief items and equipment for IDPs from Marawi and other affected localities.
Purisima said the Singapore Air Force facilitated the transport of relief items last Monday, August 7, at Laguindingan Airport. The items were immediately transported to Iligan City for eventual distribution.
As for the ASEAN relief distribution, Purisima said a total of 360 personal hygiene kits and one water filtration unit were distributed to the IDPs in evacuation centers located in Iligan city, while a total of 1,655 personal hygiene kits, 432 family kits, and 432 kitchen sets were provided for the home-based IDPs.
For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla clarified that incentives for reports and information provided by civilians and other partners that will lead to the neutralization or the arrest of any member of the NPA, particularly in the island of Negros, was an initiative on the part of the local government.
“We do welcome this initiative on the part of the local government, particularly in Negros. Because we know that they are already fed up with the abuses that are being committed and the violent activities that are being done by this armed group, which has degenerated into a bandit group, primarily concentrating on extortion and arson,” Padilla said.
Padilla expressed hopes that the initiative on providing incentives for the capture of NPAs will be replicated in other areas that are facing similar problems.
Padilla also gave assurance that this will not lead to money-making activities by bounty hunters.
“Payments are not given unless the information provided was proven to have been accurate and it led to the arrest or neutralization of a known suspect,” Padilla explained.
“So if these people have arrest orders that have been issued already to them and have been identified and seen somewhere and were reported and led to their arrest, then the bounty will be provided,” he said.