CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development-10 (DSWD-10) said government agencies are finalizing the list of internally displaced persons (IDPs) before they could go back to Marawi City, amid reports of non-Marawi residents availing of assistance intended only for evacuees.
At present, a team from the local government units and local and regional social welfare and development offices are conducting the mapping of houses in Marawi, especially those damaged due to the conflict, to verify the names of its owners.
Reports have surfaced that many of those claiming to be IDPs—both home-based and those living in evacuation centers—are actually not residents of Marawi, said Virginia Cardona, DSWD-10 disaster management focal person.
DSWD-10 said at least nine Marawi barangays, dubbed as “Cluster 1,” were now open to returning residents, namely, Basak Malutlut, Marawi Poblacion, Buadi Sacayo, Marinaut, Datu Saber, Moriatao Loksadato, Tampilong, Matampay, and Panggao Saduc.
As of Nov. 15, the DSWD-10 has recorded 182,014 IDPs in Northern Mindanao 20,268 of which are staying here, and 95,011 in Iligan City.
Cardona said many of the evacuees come from the towns in Lanao del Sur surrounding Marawi, who also fled their homes following the fighting between extremists and government forces there.
Like the IDPs from Marawi, these evacuees also received food packs and other assistance from government and private agencies, she said.
In fact, she added, many of them are holding more than one Disaster Assistance and Family Access Card (Dafac), a document that evacuees must present to avail of the aid packages.
Cardona said unscrupulous individuals had exploited the aid distribution system because the DSWD didn’t require proof of residency and other requirements.
“We just ask them their names. We understand at the time since most of them left their identification cards as they were in a hurry to leave their homes in Marawi,” she said.
Upon returning to Marawi, evacuees must first register with their village chiefs for proper documentation so that they could avail of cash and non-cash assistance, said Norainie Altao, project evaluation officer of CSWD-Marawi.
“They (evacuees) must appear before their barangay chairman so they can be included in the barangay profiling or else they will not be included in the distribution of assistance,” Altao said, adding that many of the village offices in Marawi are already functioning.
She said the returning IDPs are entitled to receive food aid good for one month and P5,000 in cash.
But the main concern of the IDPs, Altao said, is that they are finding it hard to go back to their hometown due to transportation expenses, although the city government of Cagayan de Oro had expressed its willingness to provide vehicles that would take them to Marawi.