Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed concern over the increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within and outside evacuation areas in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao amidst the heightened military pursuit of the Maute group.
De Lima said she has filed Senate Resolution No. 420 urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the plight of these IDPs in order to come up with corrective measures to address the pressing humanitarian crisis in Mindanao.
"With these reports, it is imperative for the Senate to verify these troubling complaints, and to properly investigate and assess the true living conditions of the IDPs within and outside evacuation camps," she said.
Last May 23, President Duterte has placed the entire region of Mindanao under martial rule and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in order to quell the rebellion committed by Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
The violent encounters between the government troops and the Maute fighters have resulted to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents who were forced to take refuge in crowded evacuation centers or the nearby homes.
Last June 22, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) estimated about 69,434 families - or 339,822 individuals - who have been uprooted from their homes and have continued to suffer under less than humane conditions due to lack of food, safe water, health hazards, among others.
After a week thereon, DSWD has reported that the protracted crisis has now displaced about 82,767 families - or 403,052 individuals - in Marawi City and 20 municipalities of Lanao del Sur and two more in Lanao del Norte.
"These Filipino citizens and families are also reported to be facing threats from our own military, who have allegedly been refusing the passage of relief goods, conducting indiscriminate airstrikes, disrespecting the Islamic faith and harassing women by telling inappropriate rape jokes," De Lima noted.
The Senator from Bicol said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao region is not a license for both the terrorists and government troops to abuse the innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfire.
"The protection and general welfare of the Filipinos who have already lost their property and source of livelihood, and who have been separated from their accustomed way of life should remain among the highest priority for all government units or agencies involved," she said.
"The government should address the plight of the displaced citizens in Mindanao, particularly the emerging humanitarian issues emanating from heightened militarization and continuous presence of terrorist elements," she added.
Earlier on, De Lima has raised alarm over the safety of the remaining civilians trapped in the war zones, some of whom were reportedly used by Maute group to cook or carry ammunitions, while some orphans were used as shield against military assaults.
Source: Senate of the Philippines