By NITZ ARANCON
OVER 2,000 people from strife-torn Marawi City have evacuated so far to this city and a neighboring town in Misamis Oriental but government aid for them is coming slowly.
Teodoro Sabuga-a, head of the City Social Welfare and Development Office, estimated that there were some 374 families or over two thousand people who sought refuge in this city and in Barra, Opol town in Misamis Oriental since government forces started clashing with the Maute terrorist group in Marawi last week.
Sabuga-a said the displaced families were with their friends or relatives in barangays Balulang, Kauswagan, Macabalan, Iponan and even as far as Puerto, and in neighboring Barra in Opol town, Misamis Oriental.
Government aid has been coming very slow because the evacuees need to be properly documented first, according to Sabuga-a.
Of the 374 families, only 66 families have been “processed,” and only 17 families received the initial aid as of yesterday.
Sabuga-a said the CSWD has tapped a group of Maranaos to help in the documentation of the displaced families.
“They speak Maranao and so, we hope to speed up the process,” he said.
Data given by barangay officials however suggest that Sabuga-a’s figures were underestimated.
In Barra, Opol town alone, the number of evacuees from Marawi reached 1,520 people as of noontime yesterday. Most are staying at Vamenta Subdivision in Barra, said barangay chairman Clementino Otacan.
In Barangay Balulang, this city, barangay chairman Alfredo Carcosa counted 550 evacuees.
Nicole Managbanag, capitol spokesperson, said the provincial government was prepared to send aid to the evacuees but was just waiting for the Opol town government to submit a report.
Otacan said barangay officials and workers have been doing the rounds, going from one house to another in order to document the evacuees.
He said they were profiling and taking photos of the evacuees.
“Some could not present proper identification,” said Otacan, adding that the challenge was how to ascertain that the people being documented were really evacuees from Marawi.
He said most of the evacuees were children women and elderly.
“We asked them where the men were, and they said they chose to stay in Marawi to look after their houses and belongings,” Otacan said.
He said the barangay government has been monitoring the situation 24 hours a day because it has been observed that evacuees would arrive every now and then.