PASIG CITY – Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. has vowed anew to aid the victims of the December 3 Mindanao State University (MSU) bombing incident in their long-term-recovery.

“The bombing at MSU was not only an attack against the people of Marawi; it was an attack against all peace-loving Filipinos who believe that such acts of terror have no place in a civil, humane and peaceful society,” Galvez said.

No stone unturned

He stressed that the Marcos Administration “shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that the victims get the justice they deserve and are provided with the assistance they need to recover from the harrowing incident and rebuild their lives.”

A day after the explosion, Galvez joined Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr., MSU President Atty. Basari D. Mapupuno, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials led by Chief Minister Ahod Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim in visiting the victims who are recuperating in hospitals.

At the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC), the officials checked on the health condition of the victims, provided financial assistance, and assured them of the national and Bangsamoro governments’ continued support.

As of December 4, hospital staff reported that 41 out of the 49 victims that were brought in for treatment were already discharged, one was transferred to another hospital, one was declared dead on arrival, while the remaining patients were still being treated for their injuries.

Galvez commended Provincial Health Office personnel for their immediate response, as he thanked APMC medical staff for saving the lives of the victims.

Ebrahim gave his commitment that the BARMM government will shoulder the medical bills of the patients, while the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) will provide social assistance to the victims.

At the MSU Infirmary, Galvez, Ebrahim, Adiong and Mapupuno visited the bombing victims and likewise provided them with financial assistance.

Concerted action

“During our discussions with Gov. Adiong and Chief Minister Murad, we gave President Marcos’ assurance that the national government stands ready to assist the BARMM government in every way possible to alleviate the plight of the victims,” Galvez said.

“We also agreed that with the current peace and security conditions in Marawi, there is a need for concerted action between the national and BARMM governments so that our interventions are more focused and well-coordinated,” he said

He said that the bombing incident “is proof that the spoilers of peace are just waiting in the sidelines and could launch an attack at any time, especially when they are least expected to do so.”

This is the reason, he said, why the OPAPRU, through its Social Healing and Peacebuilding Program (SHAPE), will be ramping up its peacebuilding interventions in the country’s only Islamic city.

“At this critical juncture, there is a need for us to mend the torn social fabric of society, especially in communities whose residents have been severely affected by armed conflict and are reeling from its effects,” Galvez explained.

He emphasized that there is a need to focus on the most vulnerable sectors in the community, particularly women, children and internally-displaced individuals (IDPs) who always bear the brunt of armed conflict.

“Based on our experience in helping the victims of the Marawi siege, it is not enough to provide them with socioeconomic assistance. It is also crucial to carry out psycho-social interventions such as trauma healing to help them in the recovery process,” Galvez said.

Since 2017, SHAPE has been conducting peace conversations with women, youth and children, especially for those living in Marawi’s transitory shelter sites, to give them a venue to share their views and experiences.

“If there is one important thing that victims of armed conflict need, it is the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns that have been bottled up. These peace dialogues are safe, open spaces that will allow them to release these thoughts and feelings,” Galvez said.

Whole-of-nation approach

With violent extremism once again rearing its ugly head, he underscored the crucial role of local government units, civil society and the academe in promoting the culture of peace, especially in conflict-prone and vulnerable areas.

“Violent extremism is a highly-complex concern that the government cannot address alone. It needs the support of all sectors of society, especially LGUs, CSOs and the academic community. By working together, we can overcome this threat,” Galvez said.

“In unity, there is strength. Let us show those who wish create unpeace that our resolve as a people are stronger, and that the spirit of mutual understanding, solidarity and peace shall always prevail,” he added.

Currently, the MSSD and City Social Services Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) are conducting Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and targeted sessions for civilians who were most affected by the bombing incident.

Through these interventions, the MSSD and CSWDO will identify the long-term needs of the victim-survivors and residents. For their part, MSU and other stakeholders will present their proposals on how to address the long-term needs of the affected individuals.

The OPAPRU, in partnership with the MSSD of Lanao del Sur and MSU, shall be supporting the long-term needs of the affected individuals through psychosocial interventions.

As part of the long time programming of OPAPRU, the SHAPE Program will be implemented in Lanao del Sur in collaboration with the LGUs and 103rd Infantry Brigade, and will focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration of former violent extremists (FVEs).

SAP Lagdameo visits victims

In the meantime, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Floirendo Lagdameo, Jr. visited Marawi on Friday, December 8, to check on the condition of the victims.

Accompanied by Adiong, Lagdameo went to the MSU’s Dimaporo Gym where the attack occurred, and to the hospitals where the survivors are recuperating.

During his visit to the medical facilities, he extended President Marcos Jr’s commitment of support to the victims and gave them financial assistance.

He also assured Adiong of the national government’s continued support, especially in helping the victims recover from the harrowing incident. ###