FAMILIES affected by the ongoing military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan Province received medical and relief aid on Wendesday, July 20.

The Provincial Government of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), in partnership with the Anak Mindanao partylist, has conducted simultaneous medical and relief operation in the three municipalities in Basilan.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Governor Mujiv Hataman led the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected families with his wife Anak Mindanao Partylist Representative Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman assisting him.

The officials of the Basilan Provincial Government, region’s Social Welfare and Development department, the Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (Armm-Heart), and the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Basilan joined the two officials in the distribution of the relief assistance.

Armm-Heart is an emergency rapid response team that provides coordinated actions by all regional line agencies to limit the adverse impact of disasters and conflicts in affected communities.

Armm-Heart Information Officer Myrna Jo Henry said the relief assistance given to the affected families included rice, noodles, coffee, and sardines as well as medical aid.

Henry said that at least 3,000 families from the towns of Al-Barka, Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan were displaced in the ongoing military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan.

Henry said the Armm-Heart convergence team headed by Ramil Masukat, regional disaster risk reduction management officer, has been in the area since Tuesday, July 19, to validate the number of affected families, deliver relief assistance and provide other appropriate interventions.

She said the regional government will also serve another 500 affected families within few days.

Haber Asarul, Armm assemblyman in the lone district of Basilan, said the provincial government headed by Basilan Governor Hajiman Hataman-Saliman provided around 5,000 food packs to the affected families last week.

He said most of the displaced families are from the villages of Bohe-Piang and Magcawa in Albarka town, Silangkum and Baguindan in Tipo-Tipo, and Sungkayut and Matata in Ungkaya Pukan.

Hataman said they will closely monitor the ongoing military offensive in Basilan to ensure the safety of the affected residents. (Bong Garcia)