Sumatra folks call on gov’t to bring them back to their place of origin PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 11:27

Nearly a thousand residents from Sumatra who were displaced during the Zamboanga siege are calling on concerned government agencies to bring them back to their place of origin.

Simariki Island Foundation president Nasir Ismula said Sumatra residents who are temporarily staying at Talon-Talon Elementary School are allegedly being deprived of their decent living brought about by a war between the renegade Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the government forces.

Ismula said the residents have no more home to return to since their houses were totally destroyed and razed as a result of massive bombardment.

“They want to go back and construct their own shelter and proceed with their livelihood on fishing and gathering of agar-agar,” Ismula said.

Sumatra formerly known as Simariki which means ‘a tiny isle’ is situated in a swampy and mangrove areas east of Barangay Mariki and west of Talon-Talon. It has an area about 3.6 hectares and was once in underwater whether high or low tides.

Ismula said the residents are also appealing the government to protect their forefathers graveyard and mosque since it was established in the area in the 18th century.

“We are not against the improvement of the said area where the conflict erupted but we are asking the government to settle these issues,” Ismula said.

He said they are also requesting former vice president Noli De Castro for the total rehabilitation of the residents which include shelter and livelihood knowing De Castro’s connection with any funding agencies in the country.

Presently, Simariki or Sumatra to many was a total destruction and the residents are being temporarily housed at Talon-Talon Elementary School, one of the identified evacuation centers in the city.

“For five months now, the situation is unbearable as days go by and the residents now want to return to their place of origin. However, the government through the City Crisis Management Committee denies their wish for unknown basis,” Ismula said.

The residents grouped themselves and formally organized a foundation which will work out for their rehabilitation and the development of the area for the preservation of their legacy from their forefathers.

“This was conceived in view of the emerging challenges of the time and a motivation driving the residents to unite and work for a better tomorrow for this generation and the next generation to come,” Ismula stressed.  — MLF