Cotabato City—Moro volunteers and government workers have brought water and ready-to-cook food packs to Christian neighbors severely affected by two major earthquakes, showing that compassion during a humanitarian crisis can prevail over the religious divide long exploited by politicians.
Chief Minister Hadji Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) noted “with [a] deep sense of appreciation and gratitude” that many of the workers responding to the call for help on a weekend were on their last day in office, the victims of paid lay-offs as part of a major government reorganization.
“We stand in solidarity with our neighbors in times of peace and distress, regardless of faiths and sects,” said BARMM Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, referring to the predominantly Christian communities in Makilala town and Kidapawan City.
“This is our last hurray,” said William Solano, who had been a photographer until his last Halloween in office, from the day the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) began in February 1990.
Gov. Mamintal Bombit Adiong Jr. said the Maranao people have learned first-hand how hard it was to leave homes and lose belongings in times of emergency.
Adiong said Lanao del Sur commissioned a disaster team in aid of earthquake-displaced families in Makilala, Cotabato. The team is composed of workers of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Lanao del Sur.
Sinarimbo said Ebrahim has directed the urgent dispatch of bottled potable water and food packages, along with water tankers to help in the rationing of water for domestic use by displaced families.
He said BARMM has set up incident command posts in devastated Makilala town, one in Kidapawan City proper and another in Cotabato Provincial Capitol in Barangay Amas.
Adiong said initially, the Lanao del Sur team transported relief for 1,200 families, and based on sight needs assessment, may determine whether financial assistance may be handed out to the neediest families.
A medical mission will also be deployed in the coming days, along with another round of relief distribution, said Jennie Alonto-Tamano, head of Lanao Sur provincial information office.
Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista thanked the BARMM leadership, Ebrahim in particular, for the assistance.
Over the weekend Sinarimbo, also BARMM spokesman said water tanker trucks were deployed to public places where the most number of evacuees are temporarily sheltered, including Barangay Amas, site of the provincial capitol of North Cotabato.
Muslim volunteers from Lanao Sur and Maguindanao worked overtime on the weekend to repack ready-to cook-food items for distribution.
Myrna Jo Henry, BARMM READi information head, said volunteers and employees had repacked 11,000 bottles of water, along with boxes of food and hygiene kits in a truckload of relief assistance for distribution at the region’s three command posts in the two towns.
In Surigao City, inmates at the city jail cut their portions of food rations to help earthquake victims.
In a statement on Saturday, Jail Senior Insp. Diovin C. Auza, the city jail warden, said more than 600 inmates from Surigao City Jail decided to cut their regular allowance and accumulated 30 sacks of rice that they wanted to be given to Mindanao residents who were badly hit by recent earthquakes.
The 30 sacks of rice have a total value of P37,500 and equivalent to a one-day meal allowance for the more than 600 prisoners inside the Surigao City Jail, Auza said.
“It’s like they skip three meals for an entire day for the purpose of helping our fellowmen who were badly affected by the successive quakes that struck here in Mindanao,” he said.
The donations of the inmates were officially received by Commander Lawrence Roque of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Surigao del Norte.
The PCG will take charge of transporting the 30 sacks of rice together with the other relief from various sectors in the Caraga Region.
The Kornadal city government, meanwhile, has allocated P200,000 in emergency assistance to neighboring localities that were devastated by three power earthquakes in the last three weeks.
City Mayor Eliordo Ogena said they will send this week at least P150,000 in cash assistance to North Cotabato and P50,000 to Davao del Sur to augment the ongoing relief operations for residents affected by the quake.
The financial aid was approved by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), which was convened by the mayor on Saturday.
Ogena said they saw the need to deliver immediate assistance to the neighboring provinces even as the city was also affected by the three major tremors and the continuing aftershocks.
The local government recorded one fatality and over 100 injured as a result of the magnitude 6.3 quake on Oct. 16, magnitude 6.6 on Oct. 29 and magnitude 6.5 on October 31.
We’re pooling our available resources to help our neighboring localities,” Ogena said.
On Thursday, the city government sent its search and rescue team to North Cotabato to assist the emergency operations in the area. With PNA