Tuesday, December 09, 2014



Loss of lives, properties and livelihood, fear for safety, survival, and of what the future holds. 

These are the many issues being faced by thousands of Filipinos whenever a country is hit by a natural or man-made disaster.

From the crisis brought by the Zamboanga City siege, the devastating earthquakes in Bohol and Cebu, Typhoon Yolanda destruction in Tacloban City, Aklan, and many parts in the Visayas, to the looming Typhoon Hagupit, and Mayon Volcano eruption in Albay. These events only show that the Philippines is prone to all kinds of natural calamities and man-made conflicts. The people who are caught in between these unfortunate scenarios should be assisted immediately and sufficiently.

How can the government address the plight of these people, and empower them to have their lives and dignity back?

As a Mindanaoan who experienced and witnessed the havoc brought by both natural and man-made disasters, Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III is pushing for the passage of the bill that aims to promote and protect the rights and dignity of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout the Philippines.

Senate Bill No. 2368, otherwise known as “An Act Protecting The Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Penalizing The Acts of Arbitrary Internal Displacement,” proposes that the government should adopt as a State policy a rights-based approach to internal displacement. The bill promotes and protects the rights of IDPs in situations of armed conflict, generalized and/organized violence, clan wars (like in Libacao, Aklan), violations of human rights, implementation of development projects and human-made hazards.

“Internal displacement is a common phenomenon in the Philippines brought about mostly by long-standing insurgencies, as well as natural and man-made calamities, among others. Involuntary displacement is a serious social problem that needs to be addressed as it results in loss of lives and properties, psychological trauma, family disintegration, disruption in education, loss of employment, anarchy, and over-all vulnerability, among others,” he said.

Sen. Guingona has set a public hearing on November 27, Thursday for the proposed IDP measure to look for viable solutions on the different problems and concerns faced by thousands of displaced people throughout the country.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are still 38,000 people who are still displaced in Zamboanga City. In the Visayas, there are still 25,000 people who are living in transitional sites that still require inter-sectoral assistance, and another 95,000 households (475,000 people) are living in unsafe or inadequate makeshift shelters. In Albay, there are 53,000 evacuees living in 50 evacuation centers.

The issues on food and water safety, privacy, rape, trafficking, prostitution, and shelter, among others are the concerns that affect the IDPs, especially the women, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Sen. Guingona’s bill proposes to address the many conditions now being faced by many of our countrymen in different parts of the Philippines.

“IDPs should not be considered merely as ‘collateral damage’ of armed conflict or other humanitarian emergencies, as each one of us has a stake in human security and development. It is also sobering to note that every person in the Philippines is susceptible to becoming an IDP,” Sen. Guingona stressed. /MP

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