The youth of the 21st century have proven to be a catalyst for positive change and a leader in innovation. With the likes of Mark Zuckerberg who changed the lifestyle of more than one billion people with the creation of facebook and Jack Andraka, the 15-year old prodigy who discovered a method of detecting pancreatic cancer, the youth of today is far from being negligible in the attainment of development. The Arab Spring itself which brought down Egypt’s Mubarak, Tunisia’s Ali and created a restive atmosphere in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Jordan were driven by youth-led movements. Egypt along with other Middle East countries are young with the median age of 22, and poor (no less than 65 million Arabs are living below $2 a day). These factors along with social media and the inefficiency of the government to address the needs of the poor dawned before the revolution (Ajami, 2011). The youth is a defining force in political change illustrated by no less than the continuing regime change in the Middle East and the shift from authoritarian rule to more democratic forms of government.
A strong force behind NGOs
According to a World Bank study in 2006 by David Lam, the youth population in developing countries has been its largest and will peak between 2010 and 2030 in most countries. This will lead to various economic implications in growth rates, employment, wages and public expenditures. The youth is also the most vulnerable to unemployment as they three times more likely to be unemployed than the other age groups according to ILO (as cited in International Political Forum, 2013). However, despite this, they contribute significantly to the landscape of development especially to their participation in non-governmental organizations.
In the context of the Philippines, youth participation has been essential in the success of Gawad Kalinga, a non-profit, non-government organization which aims to transform slum areas to peaceful and productive communities. Youth volunteers have since contributed to the development of 2000 communities in the Philippines through building shelter, health and livelihood programs (Gawad Kalinga, 2011). What first operated as an outreach program dedicated to transforming gang members from Bagong Silang in Metro Manila ventured into the creation of sustainable communities all over the Philippines (Gehander & Mornhed, 2006).
The volunteer program of GK is some of the many examples of NGOs positively implicating the realms of youth civic participation and development. With the forceful role of being the primary actors for societal change given to young innovative people, GK has managed set the stage for them to make consistent awareness, self-initiative and creativity in problem solving work to the development of both the society and their own personal skills. This is ultimately the goal of youth empowerment. There is then more tangible and change-oriented civic participation that can be honed from young people, who have been trained, guided and inspired by NGOs.
Ajami, F. (2011, February, 14). Demise of Dictators: the Arab Revolution of 2011.Newsweek 158 (7),16-21.
Gawad Kalinga (2011). A Global Movement to End Poverty with Roots in Australia. Retrieved from http://gk1world.com/Media/PDFs/GK_Info_Kit.pdf
Gemander, M. & Mornhed, E. (2006). From Slum to Adequate Homes: A Study for Housing Solutions for the Urban Poor in the Philippines. Retrieved from http://www.lth.se/fileadmin/hdm/Ex-jobb/Gehander_-_Moernhed.pdf
International Political Forum (2013). Youth Unemployment Around the World. Retrieved from http://internationalpoliticalforum.com/youth-unemployment-around-the-world-infographic/
Lam, D. (2006). The Demography of Youth in Developing Countries and its Economic Implications. Retrieved from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2006/10/04/000016406_20061004095006/Rendered/PDF/wps4022.pdf
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 March)–Father Joel E. Tabora of the Society of Jesus, President of the Ateneo de Davao University; Most Reverend Romulo G. Valles, D.D., Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Davao and this year’s commencement speaker; Fr. Gabriel Jose T. Gonzales of the Society of Jesus, Academic Vice President; Alma Monica A. de la Paz, Executive Director of Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Inc. – this year’s recipient of the Drs. Jess and Trining de la Paz Award; Mr. Manuel M. Orig, chair of the Board of Trustees; members of the Board of Trustees; distinguished guests, administrators, faculty of the five schools of the university, members of the Ateneo community, family and friends, Class of 2013, Maayong buntag kanatong tanan!
The last time I had a moment during graduation as sweet as this was when I graduated from kindergarten – also as valedictorian; back then I memorized my speech, which was written by my mother. Back then, I guess, I spoke from the mind, not from the heart. Looking back on the experiences I have had, I am proud to say that my Jesuit education has transformed me. I have been touched by Ignatian values. My formation in the Ateneo Way is quite grand in the sense that four years ago, nobody, even myself, would have expected that I would be able to develop a passion for knowledge and service. But looking further, I believe that my life, especially in college, was a life of struggle. Tasked to deliver the valedictory speech in behalf and for the graduating class, I feel that I have to speak the language of our common experience, and in so doing I may be able to speak from the heart. What binds us, I believe, is the experience of struggle – the experience of fighting against forces that prevent us from becoming authentic Ateneans.
The story of our college life can be read from the lens of struggle. From the beginning of our college life until this very moment, we carry with us our individual and shared narratives of struggle. Some failed in their first attempt at the entrance examination while some had to enroll with probationary status. Surviving college was another struggle. Passing the subjects was hard, earning academic and special awards was harder, and finding the motivation to continue studying despite failures and delayed graduation was perhaps the hardest. Others have fought extraordinary battles. Some of us had to earn or work as student assistants to be able to continue and manage the costs of schooling; young parents had to take care of their child at night while preparing for exams; those with health problems had to endure physical pain while those who experienced death in the family had to face life despite the loss of a loved one. We struggled to be here. But, in the greater scheme of things, this special moment is not only a ritualization of an academic victory, but also of a victory formed and transformed the Ateneo Way.
First, we were called to be academically excellent. Those who underperformed in high school realized the beauty of studying hard and discovering and developing our potentials. Second, we were called to be involved in society. All of us were able to immerse ourselves in communities, touching the lives of peoples through our projects and outreach programs. We did research and created innovative technologies, which courageously addressed issues in society, especially in Mindanao. We saw the purpose of human reason, that is, to use it in the improvement of peoples’ lives. And third, we were touched by our faith and realized that reason has to be informed by faith. Indeed, becoming an Atenean is a process of struggle to transform ourselves and to see ourselves as essentially connected to other peoples. Our graduation today is a jubilation of our triumph over four or more years of struggle. We share this moment of joy with our family, friends, teachers and the entire Ateneo community who have been part of our victory.
However, my dear friends, as past valedictorians would say, being an Atenean does not end in graduation. We are invited to reflect on how we can become authentic Ateneans as we go into the world of work and pursue our dreams. I want to offer two points for reflection. First, to be an Atenean is a process, a never-ending process of becoming. We do not become authentic Ateneans simply when we brag to our officemates that we graduated from Ateneo de Davao, when we wear pride shirts and attend alumni homecomings. Neither do we become real Ateneans by merely occupying positions of power and prestige in society. To be an Atenean, I believe, is a life project, something that we have to constantly work for in our daily lives. We become Ateneans when we do well in work, improve our work each day, and remain honest and humble. Our future engineers and scientists become Ateneans not only when they create cost-efficient solutions and technologies but also when they promote sustainable development, environment-friendly technologies and scientific advancements that respect the embeddedness and identities of peoples. Future politicians, lawyers and civil servants become Ateneans not only when they master the science of governance, the bureaucracy and the law but also when they see their positions of power as means to foster dialogue among different peoples, make justice more accessible to the poor and marginalized, and when they reshape our social, political, and economic institutions and systems towards making them more humane and just. Future businesspersons become Ateneans not only when they create wealth but also when they recognize that the economic order and the entire experience of work must not alienate peoples but instead enable them, especially the poor, to make free choices and live a happy and decent life.
Not everyone may be in agreement with my propositions, but, at the very least, I hope that we are in agreement that being an Atenean is a status to be earned, something that can be lost when we turn away from our moral obligation to become persons for others.
How do we exactly reconcile personal and collective interest, to become persons for others, to become truly Ateneans?
This leads me to my second point. I believe that we need to be constantly aware that we are in a struggle; that being an Atenean is a struggle, particularly in the context of fighting against the temptations of apathy, indifference, corruption and selfishness. I believe that we can develop such consciousness when we recognize the primordial connections between others and ourselves. We can develop such consciousness when we empathize with the struggle of other peoples, who I should say are victims of social injustice, such as the indigenous peoples who struggle against the destruction of their land and the environment, the poor who are deprived of equal access to wealth and opportunities, among others. In this way, their struggle can potentially become our own, leading us to experience a sense of disturbance, more specifically moral disturbance. The experience of being disturbed will hopefully push us to respond concretely to a moral demand. One of these is to find ways by which peoples’ claims for justice are heard and responded to by the appropriate authorities. Ultimately, the desire is to improve our situation and move closer to the ideal polity and human society touched by faith and where social justice and the common good reign supreme. With this, I believe, we become authentic Ateneans.
With faith in God and a sense of community, I hope that we all find strength and beauty in the struggle. As graduates of the Ateneo de Davao University, I hope that we understand the struggle in the light of us being sui generis (one of a kind), hoping that we dedicate our energies for the development of Mindanao and the country. May we find inspiration in our new Pope, Pope Francis, a Jesuit, who has lived a life of simplicity and has struggled to defend the poor and marginalized in Argentina and who has to bring the struggle of the poor to the global context. I hope that our classmates and friends, our batchmates, who cannot be with us in this moment of celebration, find strength and faith to continue with the struggle. May our parents, teachers and members of the Ateneo community pray that we, class of 2013, may be able to become authentic Ateneans.
Before I end, allow me to thank the people who helped me succeed in the struggle throughout college. To my teachers in the Philosophy Department and most especially in the Political Science and History Department, thank you for the excellent instruction; to my classmates and friends, thank you for the friendship and meaningful journey; friends from the SICO, now Arrupe Office for Social Formation, SAMAPULA, SAMAHAN and the Ateneo Debate Varsity, and the many people and groups I have shared my college life with, my heartfelt gratitude for the years of learning and service; to the Ateneo community—to the administration, thank you for trusting and supporting my endeavors especially with debating and with the writing of the SAMAHAN Constitution, and to the guards and agency-based workers who in their own ways have contributed to the success of all our activities in campus. To my family – my siblings Carlo, Anna and Kristal and to my mother, Felicitas, and to Jennifer – thank you for all your love and support. And, to my father – Paulino – who passed away two months ago and is now with our God the Father—thank you and I love you.
Daghang Salamat ug maayong buntag kanatong tanan!
(Paolo Cansino is the class valedictorian of Ateneo de Davao University Batch 2013. He delivered this valedictory speech on March 23, 2013. Cansino graduated cum laude with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Political Science, minor in Philosophy. He granted MindaNews rights to reprint and distribute this piece.)
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 March) – The 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TransCom) of the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will have its first meeting on Wednesday, April 3, not in any of the Bangsamoro areas in Mindanao but in Pasig City in Metro Manila.
A media advisory from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) media director in Mindanao said the GPH and MILF “will come together to formally introduce to the public” the members of the TransCom “through the ceremonial opening of their first official meeting” at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ortigas Center in Pasig City from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. That meeting is expected to be even shorter since the same advisory says a press conference is “tentatively scheduled at 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.”
“It’s just ceremonial,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, who will also chair the TransCom, replied when asked why they agreed to having the first meeting in Pasig.
The first TransCom meeting was described last week as “first en banc meeting” but this week was changed to “ceremonial opening of their first official meeting.”
In a press statement on March 25, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said they are “pleased to announce that the first en banc meeting of the 15-member Transition Commission has been set in the first week of April” and on the fourth of a six-paragraph statement said President Aquino had sought the postponement of the GPH-MILF talks in Kuala Lumpur that had been scheduled for March 25 to 27.
A Joint Statement issued by the GPH and MILF panel chairs later that day in Kuala Lumpur said they “agreed to meet in the second week of April 2013.”
The TransCom, a body agreed upon by the GPH and MILF in their Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) of October 15, 2012, was created under Executive Order 120 issued by President Aquino on December 17 and supported by resolutions from the two houses of Congress.
Its main task is to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in preparation for the “new autonomous political entity” called “Bangsamoro.” The new entity will replace the 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which will have its last elections on May 13. But the supposed three-year term of office of ARMM officials will be cut short as soon as the Basic Law shall have been passed by Congress and ratified by the people in the Bangsamoro.
According to the FAB, “upon the promulgation and ratification of the Basic Law…. the ARMM is deemed abolished” and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority takes over until the first set of officials that will govern the new entity by noon of June 30, 2016, shall have been elected in the May 2016 polls.
The EO provides the following tasks of the TransCom, in accordance with the FAB: “draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; whenever necessary, to recommend to Congress or the people, proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and whenever necessary, to assist in identifying and coordinating development programs in the proposed Bangsamoro in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the Bagnsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI)” and for this purpose, “may likewise coordinate with such other relevant government agencies and/or non-government organizations.”
It also adds these tasks: “coordinate and conduct dialogues and consultations with the National Government and various stakeholders in furtherance of its functions; and perform such other relevant functions as the President may hereinafter direct.”
The names of the TransCom members were announced on February 25.
The TransCom is composed of eight members from the MILF and seven from the GPH.
The MILF’s Iqbal will now have three roles: MILF peace panel chair, MILF information chief, and TransCom chair.
The TransCom members appointed by President Aquino are: Akmad A. Sakkam, Johaira C. Wahab,. Talib A. Benito, Asani S. Tammang, Pedrito A. Eisma. Froilyn T. Mendoza and Fatmawati T. Salapuddin.
The MILF on the other hand selected eight members: Iqbal, Maulana Alonto, Abdullah Camlian, Ibrahim D. Ali, Raissa H. Jajurie, Melanio U. Ulama, Hussein P. Munoz and Said M. Shiek – all of them members of the MILF peace panel: Iqbal is peace panel chair. Alonto and Camlian are members; Jajurie, Ulama and Sheik are members of the Technical Working Groups while Munoz, more popularly known by his commander’s name, Sonny Davao; and Ali, an aleem, are consultants.
Jajurie is a lawyer while Sheik is head of the MILF’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.
On the GPH side, only one from the GPH peace panel was named to the TransCom: lawyer Wahab, chief of the legal panel.
Wahab, who hails from Maguindanao, and who topped the Foreign Service Officer examination given out by the Department of Foreign Affairs last year, is the youngest TransCom member. She turned 28 on March 25.
Iqbal, the TransCom chair, is turning 65 this year.
Women and Lumads
The GPH members to the TransCom are lawyer and former ambassador Sakkam from Indanan, Sulu; Prof. Benito, Dean of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City; lawyer Tammang, a former congressman from Panamao, Sulu; former Isabela City councilor Eisma of Basilan; Mendoza, aTeduray who co-founded the Téduray Lambangian Women’s Organization, Inc. (TLWOI) while Salapuddin was director of the Sulu-based Lupah Sug Bangsamoro Women’s Association and is at present the Director of the Bureau of Peace & Conflict Resolution of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
Of the 15 members, four are women (Wahab, Mendoza and Salapuddin from the GPH and Jajurie from the MILF) while two are from the Lumads (Indigenous peoples): Mendoza from the GPH and Ulama from the Organization of Teduray and Lambiangan Conference, from the MILF.
Tausugs dominate the TransCom membership: Sakkam, Tammang, Salapuddin and Jajurie, Camlian describes himself as “Tausug/Sama/Banguingi from Zamboanga City and Basilan.”
The Maranaos have three members in the TransCom: Benito, Alonto and Shiek; the Kagans have Munoz and for the Iranuns, Ali.
The MILF base is in Maguindanao but there are only two Maguindanaons in the TransCom: Iqbal and Wahab.
The OPAPP media advisory said GPH and MILF officials will grace the Pasig meeting.
From the GPH, the advisory said Secretary Deles, GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and panel members Senen Bacani, Mehol Sadain and Bai Yasmin Busran-Lao will be present along with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will be present..
The MILF will be represented by Iqbal, “Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, Datu Antonio Kinoc, and Mike Pasigan and others.”
The media advisory did not say if the MILF’s senior peace panel member Datu Michael Mastura, would be present. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)
MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 March) – The Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved on second reading last Monday a proposed ordinance banning the extraction of pine tree resins in the province.
The measure was proposed after the provincial Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) apprehended in January about 500 sacks of such product from a Chinese contractor of the state-owned Bukidnon Forest, Inc. (BFI).
Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr, the bill’s author, told MindaNews they approved the proposed ordinance after the provincial board, sitting as a Committee of the Whole, conducted a public hearing on March 18.
BFI representatives failed to attend the hearing as top officials have a prior official travel schedule to Luzon.
Vilma Lorca, BFI finance and administrative officer, said in her letter to the provincial board that the extraction contract with Luda Chemicals Inc. (LCI) had the approval of the BFI board.
Lorca added that the “matter should only be dealt with the BFI top management at the DENR Central office.”
Ernesto Adobo Jr,, DENR undersecretary for staff bureaus, is the president of BFI, which is a project of the DENR’s Natural Resources Development Corp. (NRDC).
Beltran said he proposed the ordinance to end the extraction of pine tree resin within the 38,000-hectare Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) area of BFI due to expire in 2016.
Last January 30, DENR-Bukidnon seized about 500 sacks of pine tree resins due to lack of an extraction permit.
The provincial board earlier passed a resolution, also authored by Beltran, urging President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to cancel the BFI and LCI contract, and for him to cancel BFI’s IFMA.
The body suggested that the BFI area be used for the national government’s National Greening Program.
Beltran said the proposed ordinance seeks to end resin extraction activities anywhere in the province, and not just in the area of BFI.
The bill has to hurdle third reading, transmitted to the executive department for signing or veto, before it will become an ordinance.
Under the proposed ordinance, violators would face six years imprisonment or a fine of P5,000, or both.
Beltran cited in his proposed ordinance studies saying that extraction could cause “high rate and scope of forest fires because the resin would accordingly leak out to the base of the pine tree and the accumulated deposits have been proven to be combustible such that a grass burn could quickly ignite a tree and swiftly spread to other trees.”
Dr. Felix Mirasol, DENR-Bukidnon chief, said in an earlier interview that despite being asked to submit requirements for a permit to extract, BFI had refused and continued to extract and transport resins.
In his notes furnished to this reporter, Mirasol expressed fears they would be accused of being “remiss of our function” due to the continued resin extraction.
Mirasol said they tried to stop the extraction of pine tree resins because it is not part of the annual operation plan of BFI in 2012, and that they have no extraction permit.
BFI applied for a permit only last month, he said, adding that DENR-Bukidnon has started the checking process with the inventory of the pine trees where they tapped the resins.
In a meeting on February 13, Belino Epie, of the environmental desk of the Diocese of Malaybalay, asked the DENR to take action on the seized 500 sacks of pine tree resins and not just discuss the need for BFI to secure an extraction permit. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)
SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/30 March)—Despite the rising cases of animal bite victims here, this city has maintained its “zero rabies incidence” for four straight years now, Garrote Menor, head of the Animal Bites Treatment Center of the City Health Office (CHO), said.
She attributed the lack of rabid cases during the period to the “reinforcement campaign method to the villages,” which involves the conduct of frequent information drives to pet owners.
The CHO and City Veterinary Office are working in tandem in the drive against rabies in the area, Menor, a nurse, said.
“We don’t have any rabies case since 2008 and we were able to maintain that zero incidence for four straight years until this quarter of the year,” Menor said.
Although there were no recorded rabies cases among residents here for four years, animal bites have significantly increased last year by 47 percent to 1, 134 cases from 771 in 2011, CHO data showed.
Last year, Menor said that dog bites reached 997 cases, 80 for cat bites and 57 for bites from rats, monkeys and other animals.
In 2011, recorded dog bites were 667 cases, 61 for cat bites and 41 from other animals.
She said that dogs and cats remain the leading animals that victimize people, especially children.
In the curative aspect, Menor told MindaNews in a phone interview that all victims were given proper medical treatment including pre-exposure vaccination, which explains why “no one was afflicted with rabies.”
She said the city government, through the CHO, is subsidizing the administration of anti-rabies vaccines in cases of dog bites.
Menor said the patients will not pay for the first doze of the anti-rabies vaccine.
“Indigent or not, we give them the vaccine and that is free of charge,” she said.
Menor said that if the dog will die after biting the victim, the patient will be given four complete sessions.
She said they will not charge the victim if he or she is an indigent for the four sessions.
Menor said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. also offers free vaccines, including anti-biotic tablets and other medicines needed to prevent rabies, to its members.
Private bite centers here charge as much as P6,000 or P1,500 per session to prevent rabies infection.
Meanwhile, since March has been declared Rabies Awareness Month, health officials urged the public to have their pets, especially dogs and cats, injected with anti-rabies vaccines.
Dr. Alan Quines, city veterinary officer, said they target to vaccinate at least 3,000 dogs this year.
As of March 26, 1,012 dogs have been vaccinated in rural barangays in the city such as Luna, Taft, Canlanipa, Washington, San Juan and Sabang.
Pet owners need to shell out only P30 for registration fee to avail a vaccine, Quines said.
Quines said that they will go to the 21 island barangays for their animal vaccination campaign starting next month.
He said his office, the Department of Education and the Department of Health are planning to conduct a series of symposia for elementary and high school students this school year as part of their information drive against rabies. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)
In the depth crevasse of the Muslim's psyche, the Creator who has created the Universe - or the Multiverse (other dimensions), with the perfection of all it's laws, energy, entropy; with the harmony of it's systems from the smallest of its smallest to the biggest of its biggest; this Creator couldn't have just created all these, including us - mankind without a sense of purpose.
"All that we had borrowed up to 1985 or 1986 was around $5 billion and we have paid about $16 billion yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditor's interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest."
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 March) – The number of evacuees who have arrived from Sabah since March 6 has reached 4,439 as of 11 a.m. on March 27, more than twice the March 17 total of 1,677, records from the Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) showed.
“It (evacuation) hasn’t stopped,” RHRC chair Laisa Alamia told MindaNews.
Thousands had been fleeing Sabah for fear of getting caught in the crossfire in the operations Malaysian authorities launched against members of the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and Northern Borneo” to flush them out of Lahad Datu in Sabah.
The figure 4,439 does not include the 288 persons persons on board a commercial ferry who arrived in Zamboanga City on March 2 following their deportation from Sabah and whose deportation had nothing to do with the standoff in Lahad Datu.
The RHRC’s “Sabah Evacuee Map”shows a total of 4,727 evacuees, 288 classified under “organized” or those officially deported by Sabah, and the remaining 4,439 classified under “self” or voluntary evacuation.
Between March 23 and 26 alone, a total of 287 persons arrived from Sandakan and Semporna, according to the RHRC’s evacuee map.
The 4,439 evacuees evacuees arrived on 50 boats from Sabah, Tawau, Sandakan, Semporna, Lahad Datu.
Sulu posted the highest number of arrivals at 3,211 on board 18 boats, followed by Tawi-tawi’s 974 on board 31 boats and Basilan at 254 on board one boat.
The biggest number of passengers — 523 — were on board M/L Fatima Editha III (earlier reported at 512).
According to Ibrahim, a passenger interviewed by MindaNews when the boat docked at a private port in Mauboh, Patikul, Sulu on March 15, the boat carried 512 passengers when it left Sandakan at 3 p.m. on March 9, nearly thrice its passenger capacity of 180, he said.
The boat arrived in Taganak evening of March 9 but was not allowed to proceed to Bongao in Tawi-tawi because it was overloaded. Some passengers had to be transferred to a naval boat.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) website as of 6 a.m. March28 said a total of 944 families or 4,721 persons comprising 2,861 adults and 1,860 children arrived from Sabah.
There is no accompanying breakdown of the data posted on the NDRRMC website.
But it said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) set up a mobile Humanitarian Desk/Team in Tawi-tawi “to complement the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs)-led Rapid Response Teams to address the needs” of the evacuees.
It said food and-food items amounting to P10.39 million had been provided to the evacuees and an additional P13.403 million for the ongoing humanitarian operations. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)