THE Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan Cares Foundation (PDP-Laban Cares) shared some Christmas cheer to the war-torn Marawi City, handing over holiday packages and boxes of fruits to families on Tuesday, December 5.
PDP-Laban Cares chairperson Kathryn Yu led the distribution of about 1,500 December goodwill packages and fruits.
"We are here to give the holiday packages para ma-feel nila ang December season. The package consists of fruit cocktail for fruit salad and more," Yu said.
Yu said the PDP-Laban Cares has not been running out of sponsors and donors for its charitable activities because the people supporting the worthy cause have seen the team personally carrying the goods straight to its beneficiaries.
Yu, the romantic partner of Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, said the group has been wanting to set foot in the conflict-stricken city after the gun battle ended but authorities had not allowed them to do so.
The PDP-Laban Cares has frequently visited the evacuation centers and tent cities in Iligan City and nearby towns outside Marawi to conduct relief operations and to personally check the condition and the needs of the displaced families.
"As I promised before na babalik ako ng Marawi. Gusto ko talagang pumasok pero before hindi tayo pinayagan hanggang Pantar lang tayo," Yu said.
Yu said the PDP-Laban cares will come back more often until the city fully recovers.
Assisted by government soldiers and the police, the group also conducted an ocular inspection near the main battle zone particularly at the Mapandi and Bangolo bridges.
Yu said it could perhaps take several years to rehabilitate the city.
She said the photos taken during the ocular visit showing the ruins left by the five months of skirmishes will be presented to its sponsors including the PDP-Laban party to at least get more funding to help the rehabilitation works.
"It's my first time here. Nalulungkot ako na nakita ko yung mga ruins. I think it will take several years para marehabilitate yung Marawi. At least we were able to take photos para mapakita sa mga sponsors, donors and kapartido natin paano talaga nasira ang Marawi at kung paano tayo magtulung-tulong para ibangon ulit ang Marawi," Yu said.
"Yung sa relief efforts natin outside Marawi its more of helping the displaced families at the evacuation centers. Inside the city I think ang tulong na kailangan nila is rehabilitation para ma-rebuild ang Marawi," Yu added.
Yu said the group is also working out on a long term efforts especially for livelihood programs for women and support for children.
The group will either implement livelihood programs on its own initiative or with partner government agencies.
"Tinitingnan natin yung weaving, tree planting at pinag-aaralan pa namin ang iba pang livelihood projects. Yung assessment ay irereport natin kay Senator Koko, Speaker Alvarez at President Duterte para mabigyan ng quick action," Yu said.
For his part, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, who personally received the goods from the foundation, said the packages will be given to the families in need through the city social welfare office.
Gandamra, who is a member of the PDP-Laban, has expressed his gratitude to the PDP-Laban Cares for the continuing support and care for the Marawi residents.
"Tayo po ay talagang nagagalak at nagpapasalamat dahil ang ating mga kababayan even from faraway place ay pumunta dito nang sa ganon ay makapagbigay ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Marawi na nangangailangan ng suporta. Pangalawa, kahit ganitong pag-aalala sa amin dito ay napakahalaga," Gandamra said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 07, 2017.