By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said yesterday he expects more evacuees from Mindanao to enter the city as the conflict between the government and the Islamic State-backed Maute terror group intensifies.
The mayor said the city government is prepared, adding he has instructed the Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD), the City Health Office (CHO), and local barangay officials to be ready to aid evacuees.
The mayor said those fleeing the conflict-stricken city were already in Bacolod City days after the initial terror attack. He explained, some of these “evacuees” were residents of Bacolod City who were in Marawi City for the Muslim celebration of Ramadan.
Leonardia also backed Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo, Jr. against the profiling of evacuees.
“We have to assume they are not evacuees or refugees, they are, in a sense, some kind of visitors or immigrants,” said the mayor.
Meanwhile, the Negros Occidental Provincial Board on Wednesday approved a request from Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. for P1 million in financial assistance for Marawi City.
Board Member Pedro Zayco said Marañon and the provincial treasurer have already been given the authority to release the funds to help displaced residents.
Leonardia said he is also considering similar assistance from the city./WDJ