Food shortage in Lamitan feared due to closure of Basilan, Zambo ports PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 September 2013 11:32

Local officials on Wednesday warned of a food shortage in Lamitan City starting Saturday (September 21)  if authorities will continue to bar the resumption of   the seaport’s operation amid the improving security situation in the island province of Basilan.

Lamitan City, which has 45 barangays, is the capital of Basilan and the administrative seat of the provincial government.

Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay, presiding chairman of the city peace and order council, said the food supplies, including rice, in commercial establishments and small stores in Lamitan would last only until Friday.

“That’s what our emergency survey of the food supplies available in local stores revealed,” Furigay said.

Members of the city council are set to draft a resolution calling on the military and police to allow them to re-open the Lamitan boat docks, located at the eastern coast of the city.

Furigay said the tension in Lamitan City and nearby Isabela town, which has its own seaport, has waned considerably, but the ban on voyages of boats from  island province to other regions still remains.

Relief shipments affected

Furigay said even the  shipment of relief supplies to Lamitan City by the office of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman has been hampered by the security measures,  imposed to prevent any spill over of the hostilities in Zamboanga City to nearby island provinces.

The ARMM government, through its Humanitarian Action and Emergency Response Team (HEART) initially shipped last Monday about eight tons of relief supplies to Lamitan City, after securing clearance from the police and military.

The ARMM’s executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, said the shipment consisted of food packs and non-food provisions, such as hygiene kits, contributed by the office in Mindanao of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

Alamia said the ARMM’s HEART is now working out another shipment of relief supplies to Lamitan City, to be accompanied by health and social welfare workers, by the next available voyage.

The HEART’s emergency missions for thousands of evacuees in Zamboanga City, jointly led by Alamia, Hataman and the ARMM’s local government undersecretary, Juni Ilimin, are still underway, according to the autonomous region’s Bureau of Public Information.

Furigay said they are grateful to the UNCHR for extending assistance to hundreds of evacuees displaced by the hostilities in five of Lamitan City’s 45 barangayas — Lagayas, Kulay Bato, Colonia, Bulanting and Maganda.

“Ten other barangays were also affected by the tension caused by the attacks because of sightings of armed men and the proximity of these barangays to the scenes of the fierce encounters,” Furigay said.

Furigay said the MNLF forces that simultaneously attacked Lamitan City were unable to penetrate the city owing to the defense put up by armed Muslim and Christian villagers, the police and the military.

“State of calamity”

The city council declared Lamitan City under state of calamity Wednesday in a bid to hasten the release of funds and delivery of services to hundreds of families dislocated by last week’s violent attacks by followers of Nur Misuari.

Furigay said his constituent-councilors voted unanimously for a proposal to put Lamitan City under state of calamity owing to the extent of the dislocation of local residents resulting from last week’s attempts by gunmen to break through the city proper.

Furigay said the MNLF forces that simultaneously attacked Lamitan City were unable to penetrate the city owing to the defense put up by armed Muslim and Christian villagers, the police and the military.

“If not for a good community defense plan we have formulated many months before, the attackers could have easily penetrated through and reached the city center,” Furigay said.