Addressing the needs of internally displaced persons

(Speech delivered by H.E. MR. TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR., Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations,  at the “Breaking the Impasse: A New Approach to Addressing Protracted Internal Displacement” conference held June 29, 1017 at the UN Headquarters in New York)

Good morning.

The Philippine government welcomes this Report on internal displacements caused by armed conflicts and natural calamities—and by the military necessity to defend democracy, protect the public, and uphold the law. It sets out what we have long recognized: the social and economic imperative to rebuild what war destroys, and to give rescue and relief from natural calamities—and rebuild what nature destroys.

Parallel tracking has informed government decisions in this area for a long time now. In emergencies arising from unexpected events, the civilian arms of the national government are the first to respond. In conflict, the armed forces bear initially the brunt of responsibility of course. Our peaceful people power revolution restored democracy but it brought about a long largely uninterrupted peace. A long peace dulls the edge of defense; hence the time it is taking to recapture Marawi from in part drug-financed and foreign inspired terrorism.

For displacements caused by conflict, our peace and development parallel program is PAMANA, which extends development interventions in isolated and hard to reach communities suffering or vulnerable to conflict. It improves governance, the inadequacy of which makes communities helpless. It reduces poverty, which invites conflict by sustainable rural development, community infrastructure, and the focused delivery of social services. It empowers communities by strengthening their capacity to address issues of conflict through activities that heal social divides and promote social cohesion.

PAMANA provides insurance, scholarship grants, livelihood opportunities, and builds infrastructure to improve community access to facilities.

With regard to disaster-induced displacements, the Report recognizes that we have sophisticated laws and practical systems regarding recovery and building resilience.

In both cases, our goal is to address short and long-term needs by reducing risk and vulnerability as quickly as possible, and by addressing structural and economic issues faced by persons displaced by conflict and by the host communities that take them in. There is also our enduring social cohesion which has, from one end of the country to the other, absorbed into their extended families the more than 10,000 school children displaced by the fight to retake Marawi from terrorism. As many have been absorbed that way within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Of the 83,045 families or 383,420 persons displaced, 68,565 have been absorbed by their extended families in 7 regions of the country. And 3,764 families have been taken into 89 Evacuation Centers, where the UN reports the presence of the illicit drug trade. We have had greater success with less hand-wringing than the horror stories coming out of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

But we look to understand deeper by going beyond impressions of success. This entails having “quantifiable and measurable” results or impacts. That goes into availability of data, which is key to formulating targets that address real needs instead of platitudes. Our aim is, first, the person displaced; his or her immediate rescue and relief; and the rebuilding of former lives or better ones yet.

To design successful mechanisms and coordination structures to address IDP (internally displaced persons) issues, we have used data from Disaster Assistance and Family Access Cards and from the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. More capacity building in this area is needed.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road gets wide and smooth when good intentions conflict. Therefore, a collective outcome approach must respect the principle that the national authority has the primary responsibility to protect and provide, promote and produce durable solutions for IDPs. Nobody else and their ideas can conceivably substitute for national judgment. While that principle has been misused by other democratic governments, it has not by ours. International humanitarian agencies, other states, and the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator will work in line with priorities identified by the national government or at least not get in its way as happened in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

On the specific recommendations of the Report:

  1. On the draft IDP Bill: This has been refiled in both the Congress and Senate and is under consideration at Committee level. We are working with legislators on it.
  2. On developing a durable solutions strategy: our current Development Plan identifies “attaining just and lasting peace” as a foundation for sustainable development. The emphasis is on “just.” We won’t buy peace at the price of accepting societal arrangements and groups historically prone to tyranny. It incorporates the needs of IDPs in development strategies. It recognizes that IDPs and host communities must participate in decision-making processes. It is their lives.
  3. On developing a national housing policy: We have long had a national shelter program, dating even from the dictatorship and improving over time.
  1. On capacity building for LGUs: We have been doing this for sometime now because LGUs are “front liners” in addressing displacement. But it needs more work and a greater trust in local governance, which is reflected today in the desire to move to a federal system.
  2. On stocktaking: This is imperative. To know where else to go, we need to know where we are, and where everybody else happens to be — especially foreign agencies. Hence our insistent call that all technical assistance projects be coordinated with the national government and aligned with our priorities. Collective outcomes are best achieved by coordinated efforts, national, local and foreign, and on the part of empowered IDPs and their assisted hosts. This report will be carefully studied for its insights in national planning, social welfare and education. Thank you.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article

When the water problem gets ‘too big’

Next Article

Lifting farmers out of poverty

Related Posts

Column box-John Mangun-Outside the Box
Read more

Root cause to root solution

Solutions are more complicated than the Problems. Take the Christian doctrine of the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. A “momentary” act of disobedience leads to consequences that then take millennia to be resolved through a “Messiah.”

Joint patrols to protect PHL’s right to explore and utilize energy resources in West Philippine Sea

The 2016 Arbitral Award ruled that the sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea exclusively belong to the Philippines. Thus, the Philippines has the exclusive right under international law to explore the West Philippine Sea for possible energy resources and, eventually, to utilize such resources for the benefit of the Filipino people. No other country has the right to explore and exploit the resources of the West Philippine Sea.