By Lou Ellen L. Antonio
MARAWI CITY, May 23 (PIA) — The dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) did not stop the government, particularly the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), from assisting Marawi City residents.
“We thought that the government has forgotten us due to the crisis that the country is facing. But we are thankful to TFBM especially to President Rodrigo Duterte because we felt their concern for us,” said Juhary Pacasum, an internally displaced person living at Biyaya ng Pagbabago Transitory Shelter in Sagonsongan, during the distribution of 25 kilos of rice and P1,500 cash assistance by TFBM.
 “Even though the movements are restricted due to lockdown, the assistance reached us. This is a blessing for us especially that it is Ramadhan. We thank the agencies for their unwavering support to us,” added Pacasum.
Pacasum, along with other victims of the five-month siege laid by Daesh-inspired Maute terrorist group, also received a livelihood starter kit from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“We are grateful because they have been continuously assisting us,” Pacasum said.
Livelihood assistance
Another beneficiary of livelihood starter kits expressed gratitude to DTI saying the income that she will earn from the sari-sari store will help sustain their daily living needs.
“I am thankful that I received a starter kit from DTI. This will help me earn income to provide the needs of our family,” said Naira Pangcoga.
Per report from DTI, a total of 38,105 livelihood kits or 76% of its 50,000 target kits had been distributed to IDPs since 2017.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, DTI still continues the distribution of starter kits following precautionary health measures.
Farm mechanization support
In a related development, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao recently awarded farm tractors to seven (7) farmer cooperatives in Marawi City to improve farm productivity.
The cooperatives are from barangays Sagonsongan, Mipaga, Dulay Proper, Guimba, Timbangalan, East Basak Malutlut and Sugod.
The support was given under the Bangon Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program using the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
“We express our gratitude to all those who helped us to get a tractor. All farmers are happy to see the assistance given by the government,” said Palawan Tuminaman, chairman of Guimba Farmers Cooperative.
According to him, the farmers are happy with the tractor as it can help them till their lands easily.
Food Security Convergence
Displaced farmers also benefited from the Food Security Convergence Project of TFBM and its partner agencies.
“We thank the agencies for helping us farmers. They provided us with seeds which we are harvesting up to now,” said Norhaima Tabu Acar .
She said that the farmers are experiencing difficulty in sustaining their farms and the farm inputs they received are great boost to their farming.
Transitory shelters
To date, all the IDPs staying in evacuation centers have already been relocated to transitory shelters in Marawi.
“Thank you very much for the help extended to us by TFBM, NHA, LGU Marawi, and all the agencies that help us to transfer here,” said Agakhan Menor Ambor.
Ambor’s family is among the 64 displaced families in Sarimanok Tent City Site who were transferred to the Mountainview Rorogagus Transitory Shelter Site.
Fast-tracking rehabilitation projects
TFBM Chairman and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario is optimistic that all major projects in MAA will be completed by December 2021 despite the two-month Enhanced Community Quarantine caused by COVID-19, which stalled all the rehabilitation works in Marawi.
This after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of P3.56-billion budget to the different implementing agencies to fast-track projects in the most affected area (MAA).
“They (implementing agencies) can now focus on their timelines and carry out appropriate measures to hasten the completion of their projects” said Del Rosario. (LELA/PIA ICIC)