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PIA Press Release

TOR for relief distribution in Maguindanao

Koronadal City (8 June) -- The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)- Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) has strengthened its coordination with partner humanitarian agencies, donor groups and Local Government Units (LGUs) involved in the distribution of relief assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maguindanao and other areas in the region affected by the armed conflict.

In a coordination meeting here yesterday, the RDCC's Food Cluster which the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the region heads adopted a Terms of Reference (TOR) which will guide the members of the TWG and the Cluster in the conduct of the investigation on the reported mishandled of relief assistance intended for the IDPs in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Military reports said that on May 30 and 31, 2009, they have confiscated 221 bags of rice, each containing 50 kilos from an unnamed rice trader. The rice supply was found to be part of the relief assistance or ration intended for the IDPs for the month of May. The sacks bear the name of the World Food Programme (WFP), one of the donor agencies supplying food assistance to the IDPs. WFP is a member of the RDCC-TWG-Food Cluster.

According to reports, some unidentified individuals in cahoots with some local traders bought the rice supply with cheap prices and will be sold to the market on regular or higher prices.

The said reported incident has brought alarm to the RDCC which is chaired by Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan.

Director Ramil Masukat of the Technical Management Services of the Office of the Regional Governor said the RDCC-TWG-Food Cluster wants to come up with recommendations on how to strengthen and improved coordination and feedback mechanisms amongst the humanitarian agencies and other stakeholders involved in responding to the needs of the IDPs.

The team, according to Masukat agreed to conduct coordination meeting every first Thursday of every month.

He said the TOR will guide the team in their conduct of investigation on the processes used in the distribution of the relief assistance to the IDPs who are staying in the evacuation centers since August of last year due to the continuing armed conflict between the government troops and the elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Masukat said the TOR is applicable to all the distribution activities in the ground. Investigation will start next week. The WFP is joining the investigation activities next week.

Earlier, ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan reaffirms his full support to the mutual effort of the Government of the Philippines and the MILF for the resumption of peace talks and its final conclusion. Ampatuan "urge the government and the MILF to take every necessary step to bring the peace process back on track. The stakes to peace are too high to this country and the time is so precious for all parties to waste".

"This was the longest evacuation and armed conflict that ever happened in the country and we appeal for the sake of our people, the IDPs, to, those concerned groups to go back to the negotiating table and talk peace," DSWD-ARMM Assistant Secretary Pombaen Kader said.

Masukat added that the Team has the responsibility on what is happening on the ground. "We have to do something. This act is somewhat insulting the lives of the Bangsamoro People. This is inhuman," he said.

Meanwhile, as of today, DSWD-ARMM Secretary Bai Soraida Biruar reported that in Maguindanao province the total number of IDPs reached to 52,714 families or 272,540 individuals. She said the department is continuously filling the gaps on the needs of the IDPs. (bpi-armm/PIA 12) [top]

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