DHSUD urged to help relocate SBSI members

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

By SUNDY LOCUS, GMA Integrated News



The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) should aid some 4,000 Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) members threatened to be displaced following the suspension of an agreement allowing the organization to manage Sitio Kapihan in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Wednesday. 

Zubiri made the statement following the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ move to suspend its Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA) with the SBSI last week, saying the land was only for agricultural and not residential use.

A PACBRMA is a legal instrument between the DENR and tenured migrant groups to develop and conserve a portion of a protected area for 25 years.

”Dapat gumalaw rin ang DHSUD for possible relocation sites. We have to work together with the LGU (local government unit) particularly the provincial government of Surigao del Norte na hanapan sila ng lote kung saan sila pwede ilipat for the moment,” Zubiri told reporters. 

(The DHSUD should help in identifying possible relocation sites. We have to work together with the LGU, particularly the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.)

Other government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), should also provide financial assistance and temporary employment to the displaced SBSI members, he added. 

”We hope that the DSWD [will] provide AICS [Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation] support. At the same time, we can ask the DOLE to give TUPAD [Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers] support as well for temporary jobs while we’re relocating these people,” the Senate President said. 

As for the children in SBSI reportedly prohibited from schooling, Zubiri said the Department of Education (DepEd) should extend assistance, adding that “forcibly” depriving them of education can be considered child abuse.

“With these developments, kakausapin natin muli ang DepEd, DSWD, DHSUD, and other agencies that can help in the efforts to bring back normalcy to the situation on the ground,” he said. 

(With these developments, we’ll coordinate with the DepEd, DSWD, DHSUD, and other agencies that can help in the efforts to bring back normalcy to the situation on the ground.)

“Dapat matigil na itong ganitong klaseng pang-aabuso,” he added. 

(This kind of abuse must stop.)

On Tuesday, Socorro Mayor Riza Timcang said several SBSI members returned to the town proper following the DENR’s decision. Some teachers also went back to teaching. 

However, Timcang earlier lamented the members’ relocation, as some members sold their houses before moving to the enclave. She appealed for help from the national government. 

A Senate committee started a hearing on the alleged abuse and illegal activities of the SBSI on September 28.

Its leader Jey Rence Quilario or Senior Agila and three other members were cited in contempt after repeatedly denying that child marriages took place in their group despite testimonies from victims. —VBL, GMA Integrated News

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