Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Delivering Stories of Progress


Bakwit Stories: Living under the Quirino Bridge

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Contributed by Nazh-Far Mariwa Berganio, Founder and President of Ako Bakwit

At the height of COVID19 lockdown in the country last year, our Director for Muslim Affairs, Dr. Sharifuddin Pangarungan Alhazar found them living under the Quirino Bridge in Quiapo, Manila.

During those times, they were in a desperate situation with no food to eat, they just rely on some good samaritan for food and water in order to survive each day.

Twenty-five families from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur fled their homes during the Marawi siege in 2017 with the hopes of finding a better future. Since then, they transferred from place to place and finally settled under Quirino Bridge, beside Pasig river before the pandemic started.

Two weeks before Ramadan ended, I joined the team in delivering grocery packs donated by BDO Foundation. There, I saw their situation and was able to chat with their group leader. Her name is Wahida Tahir. She narrated how the pandemic has made their circumstances twice difficult. They are not able to immediately avail of any government assistance simply because they don’t have any identification to show as proof. But amidst all these, what worries them the most is the threat of being displaced again without any possible relocation. Unlike the group living on their opposite side, they were not offered any housing. 

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the Philippines has recorded about 4.1 million new displacements in 2019 and in the first half of 2020, there were 66,000 new displacements associated with conflict and violence and 811,000 as a result of disasters.

For a calamity prone country with continued armed conflict and instability happening in some parts, the Philippines does have a law that ensures the welfare and protects their rights. Although, there are bills pending in the committee level filed by allies like Senators Grace Poe and Risa Hontiveros in the Senate and Representatives Kit Belmonte, Myra Joy Tambunting, Rufus Rodriguez and Cheryl Deloso-Montalla in the House of Representatives, the plight of our IDP brothers and sisters continues.

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