By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
Agusan del Sur is the first local government unit in the country to personally distribute the relief packs not only to internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Marawi but to battle-weary Army soldiers still in the frontline in the war against the dreaded Maute ISIS group.
Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward Plaza has led in the distribution of some 5,000 bags of rice containing 10 per bag and printed with “From the people of Agusan del Sur” to the IDPs seeking refuge at the evacuation center and the homes of their relatives in Pantao Ragat town.
Another 2,000 packs of assorted canned goods, bottled water and biscuits were also given to Army soldiers belonging to 4th Mechanized Battalion based in Iligan City..
“We will pray that this conflict will end soon so you can go back home and lead normal lives again,” Plaza told the IDPs during the relief goods distribution.
Pantao Ragat Vice Mayor Mohammed Daud Nabil Lantud was grateful to the visiting local officials saying the relief supplies would be a big help to the IDPs considering that they have limited funds for the purchase of foods and other necessities of the evacuees.
“When they are happy, we are even more glad to see them smile,” Lantud told PTV 8 Agusan del Sur reporter Alexis Cabardo in an interview.
Col. Alex Aduca, commanding officer of the 4th Mechanized Battalion, said he will personally deliver the relief packs to his men in the battlefield in the besieged Marawi.
Some 1,100 families are now seeking temporary shelters with their relatives here and 300 were at the municipal evacuation center since the war erupted. Pantao Ragat is just about five kilometers away from Marawi City.
Plaza also visited the cramped overcrowded evacuation center in Maria Cristina village in Iligan City where he led in the distribution of bags of rice to some 200 IDPs.
Afaiasah Radiamuda, an IDP in Pantao Ragat, said the rice came as a big relief to them since only few government agencies came to a relief mission. She said they only brought a few clothes when they left Marawi City because the war erupted suddenly.
Mario Montero, an IDP at the evacuation center in Maria Cristina village, told Cabardo his family is facing uncertainty when the conflict is over since they will go home with their homes already destroyed by the war.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has turned over to the police 12 sets of Kevlar helmet and vest level 4 that will be used by the SWAT unit of the Provincial Police Office.
Sr. Supt. Joseph Plaza, provincial police director, receive the new police equipment which are the initial batch that will be given to the law enforcers in the province.
Gov. Plaza said the province is now waiting for the bidding process to be completed for the purchase of new firearms, shields and a new police car for the Special Action Force.
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