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ARMM extends assistance to 900 displaced families in Maguindanao town

COTABATO CITY – About 900 displaced families from the town of Talitay in Maguindanao were assisted through the Bayanihan relief operations conducted on Friday at Barangay Pageda.

The operations included medical and dental missions, relief distribution, and grooming services offered by the 6th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) in partnership with the ARMM regional government.

Programs and agencies in the region that participated in the Bayanihan operations are the Department of Health (DOH), the Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.  

DOH conducted laboratory tests for high blood, blood sugar screening for the detection of possible cases of diabetes, and urinalysis for the detection of kidney problems. Dr. Eloisa Usman, chief of DOH’s mission said they are prioritizing senior citizen evacuees as they are usually the ones who get lesser medical attention.

Pregnant and lactating mothers, infants, senior citizens, children, women and men from Pageda and nearby barangays also received free medical consultation and dental and services from the 6th ID CMO Medical and Dental Corps. 

Displaced families also received food and non-food relief packs consisting of 25 kilos of rice, two cans each of sardines and corned beef, two pouches of coffee and cereals, three packs of sanitary napkins, a pair of pail and pot, and medicines as prescribed by the 6th ID Medical Corps. 

The Bayanihan mission was carried out due to the displacement of some 900 families from Pageda and nearby barangays of Bintan and Gadungan, also in Talitay, arising from law enforcement operations laid out for town mayor Montasir M. Sabal.

The mayor is on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of local politicians involved in illegal drugs. Mayor Sabal has continuously denied all accusations and has fled from his home before the operations were launched. 

Gerry Besana, 6th CMO Battalion leader, urged displaced civilians to go back to their houses and resume their normal lives. He assured that the military did not mean to interfere with the lives of the residents and that they were only after five individuals, including the town mayor. 

Besana said it has become normal for residents to flee their homes when they see the military arriving. “Umaalis sila (They leave) because they fear for their lives, at baka daw sila madamay (and they fear they could get hurt),” he said.

Changing this perception, Besana added, is one of the challenges facing the military. “Hindi sila dapat matakot especially kung hindi sila ang target ng operation (They should not be afraid if they’re not the target of the operation); we are here to serve and protect your lives, protect your properties,” he said. The 6th ID, he added, cannot leave the town until everything is in order and everyone has returned home. 

Sapela Jabar, 45 years old with 10 children, was among the evacuees who benefited from the Bayanihan mission. She left her goats and chicken and her harvested rice crops when she fled at night on a boat with her little children, still undressed, when surprise explosions almost hit her home.

Her shoulders, she said, still aches from carrying things she never thought she could carry. She shared that she was glad the situation has normalized now in her barangay and that she and her family can finally go home. 

“Pedsukol sukol kami sa Kadnan ka nakapacheck-up kami sya, nakakwa sa gamut para sa masakit a lawas (We are thankful to God because we were able to get a check-up here and get medicine for our body pains),” Jabar said. 

Kamid Buisan, acting mayor of the town, said the municipal government is very thankful for the activity prepared by the regional government and the 6th ID. He also assured the town’s residents, that they should not worry about coming back to their homes now as the military has assured their safety. Classes in all levels that are currently suspended would likely resume next week. (Bureau of Public Information)

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