EVACUEES CRY: ‘No to relocation, yes to re-development’ PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:38

In a forum jointly attended by the local offices of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos [formerly OMA], the Department of Social Welfare Regional 9, and the Darul Iftah, in a dialogue with a group of Muslim civil society organizations on Sunday, October 19 at the NCMF mosque, a unanimous support was given to the desire of the various groups and advocacies representing the internally displaced peoples [IDPs] and evacuees from Barangays Rio Hondo, Mariki and Sta Barbara to return to their original homes and to scrap the move to relocate them permanently or temporarily, anywhere  outside of their original abodes.

NCMF Legal Officer Yasser Apion affirmed that the NCMF and the city government through the Crisis Management Commitee Chairperson, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar are aware of and take due cognizance of the rightful ownership of the mostly Muslim fire victims and evacuees to their original homes and their right to return and rebuild their houses in their original land in the now almost completely gutted down Barangays of Rio Hondo and Mariki and part of Sta. Barbara.

“The right to their abodes is legally entrenched in the Philippine laws by two presidents of this country through the proclamation of President Ferdinand E. Marcos in Presidential Proclamation number 472 of 1975, and the Presidential Proclamation of 1965 by President Diosdado Macapagal who created and declared some 30 hectare area of Campo Muslim, now Rio Hondo, Mariki and part of St. Barbara as a “Muslim Settlement”, according to Atty Apion.

The appeal for the return of the IDPs to their original homes is passionately endorsed by Muslim peace ambassador and popular screen actor Robin Padilla who is also known as brother Abdul Aziz to his Muslim brethren.

Padilla and his Liwanag ng Kapayapaan Foundation Inc.[LKFI] fully support the right of return of the Muslims to their homes and lands, emphasizing that it is their obligation as Muslims to protect their properties and take care of their well-being not only on behalf of their ‘ahli’ [Muslim households] but also as ‘ummat Muslimeen’ [Muslim community] and thereby strongly exhorts the Darul Iftah, a consensual body of Muslim religious elders and community leaders, to uphold their authority and take full responsibility in the fulfillment of this obligation as decreed in the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy Book.

The civil society organizations expressed their grateful appreciation of the stands and commitments of Darul Iftah, the DSWD-RO9 and the NCMF and recommended doable concrete actions to be endorsed to the CMC through these governmental bodies. Among these are the immediate return of all the Sama Dilaut boats now haphazardly docked and upshored all through the Cawa-Cawa promenade areas and spilling onto the city streets, and to allow them to anchor back again into the shores of Mariki and Rio Hondo.

“For a start, without need for a sophisticated engineering plan or multimillion budget allocation, the indigenous Bajaus’ should be given full access to their mooring grounds including the freedom to put up their stilt houses again,” says a spokesperson from Lumah Ma Dilaut, a Sama Dilaut NGO.

The same unhampered access for small fishermen and agar-agar farmers especially in Layag-Layag [Sumariki island] is also the appeal echoed by a seaweed farmer from said island. “We appeal to authorities to allow us and our boats access to the sea  for us to inspect our plantations and prevent them from further degradation and save them from rampant looting”.

The IDPs now swelling to hundreds of thousands sheltering at the Enriquez Sports Complex and more huddled in tent shelters along Cawa-Cawa Boulevard include some 3,500 families of indigenous Sama Bajau from the Hongkong village sitio of Rio Hondo alone, or at least 15,000 heads of mostly women and children. The IDPs have been holed out and stranded at said evacuation sites for more than 40 days now following the stand-off between the Philippine Armed forces and Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF] Misuari faction. — Mucha Lahaman Quiling/Mindanews-Sambuwangan