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Secretary Soliman welcomed by Surigao Sur governor, Johnny Pimentel during their initial meeting regarding the relief efforts for the internally-displaced families from SurSur currently occupying the evacuation center at the Surigao del Sur Sports Center in Tandag City. DSWD Caraga, headed by Regional Director Minda B. Brigoli (2nd from left), is actively monitoring the operations, together with the provincial local government unit of Surigao del Sur and the local government unit of Tandag City, headed by Mayo Roxanne C. Pimentel.

Tandag City – “We will coordinate with Governor Pimentel so that we will be able to have a location where we can build core shelter for you, so that you will have better living conditions”- proposed Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman to the community leaders of the internally-displaced families (IDPs) currently occupying the Surigao del Sur Sports Center.

This was during her visit in the city on September 25, 2015 to visit and assess the condition of the IDPs in the province and also to meet with the Surigao del Sur local government and IDP community leaders.

“Ug mosugot kamo, himuan kamo ug panimalay worth Php30,000 – Php50,000, kung asa aduna gayud kamo’y kaugalingon nga CR ug linya sa tubig, dili parehas dinhi sa inyong kahimtang (You will be provided with your own houses worth P30,000 – P50,000, wherein you will have your own CR with water lines, more comfortable than your conditions here),” Soliman added.

Soliman went to Tandag City on September 25, 2015, after attending the Funtawid Livelihood Day in General Luna, Siargao Island. She met with Governor Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur to discuss matters about the relief operations for the 615 internally-displaced families from the aforementioned municipalities.

The meeting, which was attended by Secretary Soliman, Surigao del Sur provincial government – with Gov. Pimentel and heads of the provincial agencies, DSWD-Caraga contingency headed by regional director Minda B. Brigoli, and Tandag City mayor, Roxanne Pimentel, tackled all possible arrangements to ensure that the welfare and needs of the IDPs in the evacuation center will be prioritized.

During the meeting, Soliman proposed that the IDPs be relocated to a much better and comfortable core shelter site, where they will have better living conditions, while awaiting for the response of the government to their demands. This proposal was later presented to the open forum with the community leaders, right after the meeting with the provincial governor.

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Women of Service: DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, DSWD Caraga Director, Minda B. Brigoli, and Mayor Roxanne C. Pimentel of Tandag City doing rounds at the Surigao del Sur Sports Center, checking the condition of the 615 internally displaced families seeking refuge at the evacuation center after fleeing their homes due to social disorganization ncidents in their respective communities.

A forum then followed right after the meeting with the governor where the IDPs, through their leaders, have demanded the break-up of paramilitary groups in their communities, whom they claim, have been harassing them for quite some time now. Other demands they have extended is the total pull-out of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their communities, and for the government to accommodate their return to their homes once the AFP is pulled-out.

In her response, Soliman extended the proposal for the leaders to discuss within themselves and cascaded down to the members of their communities. The said proposal was brought about after several IDPs expressed their worsening living conditions at the evacuation center. The group has been using light materials for their living quarters, susceptible to the harsh weather conditions, extreme heat in the day time, and coldness during the evening.

As per Secretary Soliman’s proposal, the province will find a suitable place for the core shelter houses to be built on. DSWD will partner with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a reliable partner of the Department in previous engagements in building core shelter projects, in the facilitation and management in building the shelters, and hire the IDPs, through cash for work, in the construction of the row houses.

The Secretary also went around the evacuation site to check the conditions in the area and ensure that the appropriate aid and services have reached the families. While on the grounds, the secretary also explained the proposed alternative of relocating the families, which was well appreciated by the IDPs.

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Students from the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), who’s school was affected by the violent conflict in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, extend their requests to the national government, through Secretary Soliman. The Secretary ensured that their requests will be extended to the office of the president. The Secretary also extended the plans she presented to the community leaders (core shelter provision), and ensured the students that their educational needs will be a priority.

To date, DSWD Caraga has augmented a total of P2,377,158.68 assistance to the evacuees in Surigao del Sur. This comprise of 2,824 family food packs worth P1,181,335.68, non-food items worth P990,950.00, 2,496 pieces of Nutri-cereals worth P122,304.00, Medical assistance worth P3,569.00, burial assistance worth P20,000.00 and materials, snacks for psycho-social processing activities worth P59,000.00.###(MARKO DAVEY D. REYES/Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Field Office Caraga)