THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Eastern Visayas insisted they did not neglect the thousands of residents in Calbiga, Samar who fled their homes last week for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between the military and the New People's Army (NPA) rebels.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, April 11, DSWD Regional Director Restituto Macuto denied claims of a militant group that their agency did not provide meal assistance to families who took shelter at the town’s covered court for several days.
The conflict between government troops and communist rebels last week displaced 837 families or 2,182 individuals, including 933 children, 35 pregnant women, 112 senior citizens, and six persons with physical disability.
These families returned home on Sunday after hours of dialogue with the local peace and order council.
Militant group People Surge claimed that the National Government failed to attend to the basic needs of the displaced families.
“It’s not true that they were neglected because we have distributed food packs to each family. The food packs contain four kilograms of rice, eight canned goods, coffee packs, bottles of water and blankets,” Macuto said.
The DSWD regional chief said it is their job to ensure the welfare and security of vulnerable sectors, especially children, pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
“If there are evacuees, we will always provide them with relief goods,” Macuto added.
The local government provided transportation assistance to the evacuees who returned to their respective villages. The Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion assured them of their safety.
The displaced families claimed that the NPA rebels asked them to leave their communities. Militant groups, on the other hand, accused the government troops of militarization in Calbiga’s upland villages.
Calbiga town is about 63 kilometers north of Tacloban City, the regional capital. It is a fourth class town in Samar province with a population of 22,982 people. (PNA)