Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar cited messages of resiliency, unity and hope amidst war during his visit to Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) operation center in Iligan City on 13 October 2017.
Secretary Andanar shared in an interview with the media that he came personally to get first hand updates of recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City and emphasized the message of resiliency, unity and hope among Filipinos in this time of crisis.
During his visit, Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary and chairman of TFBM Cesar Yano said that through the sub-committee on reconstruction, there had been site development on transitional shelters at barangay Sagongsongan in Marawi City. In fact, there is already an ongoing construction of initial 1,100 units of these shelters by four groups in three months which started on 8 September 2017.
The local government of Marawi and Mindanao State University (MSU) also assisted in the identification of 14 hectares of land for temporary shelters and permanent housing. There is also an ongoing inventory on internally displaced persons (IDPs) relocation preference and prioritization of IDPs for relocation with local government unit (LGU).
In terms of health and social welfare, there had been a total of 108,028 medical consultations in 54 municipalities such as Tamang Serbisyo para sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya (TsekAP) services by the Department of Health (DOH). Aside from that, 68,289 individuals already received psychosocial services in 38 municipalities; the government has also provided evacuation centers with potable water and construction/installation of toilets, washing and bathing facilities. Further, 438, 440 IDPs received nutrition services in 51 municipalities.
On the other hand, relief assistance had been distributed to 78, 466 displaced families or 359, 680 displaced individuals, distribution of tents to decongest evacuation centers and early rehabilitation and recovery program through sustainable projects such as communal gardening and food production.
Yano admitted that although the Maranaos are not used to gardening because they are more of trading and selling, they have learned to appreciate communal gardening as this makes their time useful in temporary shelters and evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, in terms of sustaining peace, the TFBM has created the technical working group to manage the return of IDPs; meanwhile trained policewomen had been deployed to counter violent extremism; and PNP posts has been established in evacuation and transition areas. According to Usec Yano, there has also been a culture of peace orientation to the youth IDPs in Iligan City and focus group discussion of women, peace and security among others.
Online war against terrorism
Among the itinerary of Secretary Andanar was a meeting with the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division of the Philippine Army in Marawi City who leads the war against terrorists in Marawi City.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera in a presentation shared efforts of the Tabak Division in countering massive online production and information dissemination of videos and other materials about violent extremism. He said that apart from the battle on the ground, they are also fighting another battle in the internet against violent extremism.
He said that through their training, they have successfully taken down numerous sites online that are detected to be that of the violent extremist group producing videos which would invite and ignite violent extremism especially to the youth.
He said that social media is one of the means the terrorist group use to recruit new members. Among the targeted sectors include the youth and even professionals.
Lt. Col. Herrera revealed that since the start of the war, they have strengthened their online presence. They have produced materials to explain the war and their efforts to fight terrorists in the area. They have also posted various news and articles about bravery of soldiers in the battle field and also soldiers who are helping Maranao civilians, among others.
These stories have helped in shaping up the image of soldiers, he said.
Establishment of Salaam TV and Radio
One of the final areas that Secretary Andanar visited was the MSU in Marawi City. He had a chance to speak with President Dr. Habib Macaayong and the rest of the top management of the school to share some good news.
He shared that as the head for the Strategic Communications and Information Management group of the TFBM, the budget for the creation of Salaam TV and radio has been approved.
The secretary said that this TV and radio station is dedicated for the Muslim community, to give them a voice and share their stories to the rest of the country and the world.
The proposed location for the said TV and radio station is in MSU and is expected to commence before the year ends or in 2018. (JMOR/PIA10)