Evacuees from Zambo arrive in Cebu-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Gunfights that lasted for hours and news about neighbors and relatives getting killed were too much to bear for 13 families who arrived Wednesday in Cebu City from Zamboanga City.
Marites Angeles Kajal said they could no longer stand it and they were scared that stray bullets would hit them.
When the fighting briefly stopped, Kajal and 59 of her relatives fled Zamboanga City at 8 a.m. Tuesday. They arrived in Cebu City at 5 p.m. the next day.
Kajal and her companions, 30 of them children aged below 10 years old, were cramped inside an Isuzu Forwarder and Mitsubishi Montero when they made the 33-hour land trip that brought them to Dipolog.
From Dipolog, they proceeded to Dumaguete City and crossed to Santander town in Southern Cebu.
On their way out of Barangay Talon-Talon in Zamboanga, the parents hid their children and pinned them near the base of the car seats, fearing they would be seen by the rebels.
Kajal said Barangay Talon-Talon is situated between barangays Sta. Catalina and Mampang, where most members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) stayed.
“We were caught in the crossfire. Wala kaming mapuntahan kasi puro nalang putukan (We had nowhere to go because wherever you go, there is gunfight),” said Kajal, a businesswoman who supplies fish products to establishments in Davao City.
All 13 families lived in a compound in Talon-talon.
Kajal, 45, said all of them agreed to travel by land to Cebu because they feared for their lives and the future of their children.
She said they had to wait for the fighting to stop before they could leave, bringing with them toddlers and a two-month-old baby.
As soon as the gunfight stopped, they left for Cebu, she said.
The families are staying at the house of Kajal’s daughter, Sarah Mae Basillo, in Tres de Abril in Barangay Labangon.
Basillo said they had to inform the Punta Princesa Police Station about the arrival of her relatives since their presence threatened her neighbors.
Some of them thought her relatives are members of the MNLF since they came from Zamboanga.
Basillo has been residing in Cebu for eight years.
“I assured all of them that all these people who arrived from Zamboanga are my relatives. They are not rebels and they do not intend to cause trouble here, Basilio said in Bisaya.
Seven-year-old Neil Alden Angeles, one of the evacuees, said that despite the fighting in Zamboanga, he still wants to go back because that is where his home is.
“Pero takot ako sa mga bala kasi baka tamaan kami (I still want to go back because my house is there but I’m afraid that I will be hit by bullets),” said Angeles, a Grade 2 pupil.
Another evacuee, Sherhan Daong, 39, appealed to the Cebu City Government to help their children deal with the trauma that the events may have caused them.
Dahong said the children who travelled with them were so scared that they lay down in the truck the whole time during their escape.
Their escape vehicle was a 10-wheeler flatbed where all 60 of them squeezed themselves in. They took cover under tarpaulins to ward off the cold at night and heat during the day.
He said they feared the fighting would traumatize their children.
He said that since the standoff started two weeks ago, several of their neighbors were shot dead by armed men believed to be members of the MNLF.
Food was also scarce at home since most establishments were forced to shut down.
Daong said they are willing to go back to Zamboanga City as soon as the situation normalizes.
“Mobalik gyud mi didto kay tua man didto among panginabuhi. Bisan unsa pa na kadugay basta once ma clear na didto, mobalik gyud dayon mi (We will definitely go back because our livelihood is there. No matter how long it takes, we will go home as soon as the fighting stops),” said Daong.
City Hall aid
At the Cebu City Hall on Thursday, officials said the city will assess the situation of the evacuees.
Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) chief Ester Concha said they will verify if the families are residents of Zamboanga City.
If they are, Concha said DSWS will try to look for shelter for them, especially if the evacuees don’t have relatives here in Cebu.
The DSWS will also provide them with food.
In an interview, city administrator Jose Marie Poblete said the city will assess if the evacuees can be a beneficiary of the City’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (Aics) program.
DSWS will determine the form and extent of the assistance.
Under the city’s website, Aics “provides limited assistance, in cash or in kind to assessed individuals or families who are hampered from functioning normally because of socio-economic difficulties or health instability.” (JTR/With PDF/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2013.