July 11, 2013: The armed clashes between the government troops and the elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have disrupted the construction of 6 school class rooms at Barangay Lapok, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao and caused displacements of some 1300 families in North Cotabato and Maguindanao towns.
“The recent skirmishes again disrupted the development efforts and threatened the lives of the still recovering innocent residents of North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces that had been displaced by 2003 and 2008 wars,” Yusoph S. Lumambas, UNYPAD Secretary General, said.
“The project engineer and community organizer reported Saturday afternoon to the UNYPAD Project Management Team that there was a massive evacuation of civilians that took place in the community,” Lumambas added.
“Upon assessing the situation here in Lapok, we decided together with our construction workers and our counterpart leaders in the community to vacate the place for our safety and security,” Alilaya O. Anayatin, Project Engineer, said in his phone conversation with Anwar Z. Saluwang, Director of the UNYPAD Development Management Center (DMC).
“With the permission given to them by the UNYPAD Project Management Team, Alilaya and one construction worker rode a motorbike and left the area at 4PM for Cotabato City,” Tu Alid Alfonso, Project Manager, disclosed.
“Although we received an assurance from the member of GPH-MILF Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH), Toks Upahm, that the Philippine Military will not include Barangay Lapok for their combat operation because it was jointly identified as MILF community by the JCCCH, we should still do something to ease the tension felt by our project staff,” said Saluwang in an emergency meeting of the UNYPAD national executive council.
Tu Alid Alfonso, also the Vice President for Internal Affairs of the UNYPAD, said, “Though our staff left the area, we ensured that the construction materials have been put in proper place and safeguarded by our military friends from MILF assigned in the Barangay Lapok as part of their counterpart.”
“The UNYPAD, through our National President, Rahib L. Kudto, did not fail to inform the Japan Embassy about the situations in the ground,” Alfonso said.
“As implementing partner of Japan Embassy, it is our commitment and responsibility to keep the embassy abreast of the situation in ground especially when it affects the project implementation,” he stressed.
The UNYPAD Project Team visited the construction site on Wednesday along with the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC) Interns taking up Bachelor of Science in Community Development (BSCD).
“To be briefed of the project situation after it has been left, a meeting was called to selected community leaders of Barangay Lapok who have volunteered in overseeing the project,” Alfonso said.
He also disclosed that the project engineer and the construction workers were also deployed back to the project site that day.
“After four days of delay, the construction of the school building project formally resumed,” he added. (UNYPAD News)