DEPARTMENT of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “dinky” Soliman has explained lengthily her offer for government to construct temporary shelters for the lumads now taking shelter at the Tandag City gym.
Soliman said that the proposal was an interim solution while peace is being worked out in the area.
It was not meant to pull them out from their ancestral lands.
“The proposal for setting up temporary transitional shelters in Tandag where the governor would look for a place for these, is based on our experience of the Zamboanga crisis. Just like in Zamboanga, where hundreds of evacuees stayed at the city’s grandstand, staying in in the sports complex is a big humanitarian risk as it is not constructed for resettlement,” Sec. Soliman further explained.
This is where again, the secretary echoes earlier statements of other key government officials, the President included, that reflect detachment from the issue on hand.
The Zamboanga crisis saw large urban communities burned bombed by government forces; the residents didn’t have a single house to return to and their communities cannot sustain them in such ramshackled states.
The lumads were driven off by fear, leaving homes, farmlands, and farm animals.
They have a place to return to, except that government is dragging its feet on the solution: to address militarization and call out the paramilitary men as the instruments of abuse. Government is still in the thick of denying that they have paramilitary men.
The President cannot be bothered it seems, and so Soliman offered what government had always been very good at offering: temporary solutions. True to form, the leaders of the internally displaced persons in Tandag refused the offer because out there in their ancestral lands, their homes, farmlands, and farm animals are waiting.