The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) through its projects, Support to Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA, AECID-EU Funded) and IDP Protection (UNHCR Funded), conducted an awareness raising on the basic rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the salient points of BTA Bill No. 32 or “Rights of the Internally Displaced Persons of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Act. This joint activity was held at the Municipality of Pagalungan, Maguindanao del Sur, last Wednesday, January 17, 2024. This activity was participated by the local government units, 20 internally displaced persons (both recurrent and protracted), and the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission.

The first aim of this collaboration of actions is to know the current situation concerning IDPs and their needs. Currently, there are 704 displaced families in the area caused by RIDO, or family feuds, that happened in December 2023 in Barangay Dalgan. It was learned that after weeks of staying on the national road, they slowly returned home the second week of January 2024 with clearance from the AFP. During the session, the affected individuals shared their conditions and experiences during displacements, especially during their stay along the national road of the municipality. No evacuation center was provided because even the municipal hall was flooded. Though the basic needs were provided, it was not enough to sustain. No education was given to the children, no livelihood assistance, and lack of security. 

During deliberations, the Barangay Kagawads of the said municipality were thankful to be part of this initiative. They actively participated and provided the team with details of the situation emphasizing the immediate and extended assistance provided by their LGU. The most common challenges that these IDPs are facing are unstable peace and security conditions and flooding. According to them, it might not sound good to hear, but they are used to it, (the sound of the gunshots is like music to their ears, and it is a matter of timing before evacuating to higher ground when the heavy rain falls). They want to get out of the situation if there are better opportunities for them provided by the government.  

After this process, the team proceeded to the main objective of the activity, where the basic rights of IDPs and the support for the passage, along with its salient points, were discussed. This aims to provide knowledge, understanding, and emphasis on having a rights-based policy that could provide mechanisms such as mitigation and response to displacements.  BHRC mandates were also presented, including where violations and abuses happen to displaced people and how the agency can protect them.

The project officers, Ms. Julie E. Esmael, Mr. Robert Apadan and Mr. Baguindali Abdullah, led the interaction and discussion about the IDP Basic Rights with an emphasis on the importance of the passage of the regional IDP Bill or BTA bill No. 32. This policy framework is a rights-based approach, particularly in addressing the issues and concerns of the affected population, focusing on their awareness, resilience, and mitigation towards achieving durable solutions for them.

This timely campaign about IDP rights is very beneficial to them. CBCS team encouraged the IDPs to familiarize themselves with their rights and to support the passing of the IDP Bill which is at its second level of reading. It was highlighted that this policy, if approved, will be an advantage to the protracted and recurrently affected individuals, particularly in finding durable solutions to their repeated situations.

By: Jamaheria Compania
Communications and Advocacy Officer-IDP Project