Socorro town fears 4,000 SBSI members will lose homes

The municipality of Socorro, Surigao del Norte appealed for help from the national government amid the looming displacement of some 4,000 members of the Socorro Bayanihan Services, Inc. (SBSI).

According to Marisol Abduhramann’s Monday “24 Oras” report, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suspended its Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA) with SBSI, saying the land was only for agricultural and not residential use.

A PACBRMA is a legal instrument between the DENR and tenured migrant groups to develop and conserve a portion of a protected area for 25 years.

“Sisikapin ng LGU na makatulong. Ang pinakaimportante na mapaabot ng LGU, sana matulungan kami ng ating gobyerno,” Socorro Mayor Riza Timcang said.

(The LGU will do its best to help. But we’re appealing for help from the national government.)

Some SBSI members had sold off their houses before joining the group, which was allegedly engaged in various illegal activities including sexual abuse, child marriages, and forced labor.

Among the affected SBSI members is Francisco Quiaagan, who has been living in Sitio Kapihan for five years.

“Wala akong bahay or tirhan sa baba… Dito nagtatanim ako,” he said.

(I don’t have a house in town. I farm here for livelihood.)

Grace Ancog, another SBSI member, doesn’t want to leave Sitio Kapihan but may seek shelter at a brother’s house should they be resettled.

“May kuya kasi ako na nasa baba, pwede po kami makitira doon,” she said.

(I have a brother there so I can live with him.)

Meanwhile, a police outpost was installed inside the community as cops await the possible placement of Sitio Kapihan under the red category or areas of grave concern amid the possible tension between the group and the Socorro LGU.

“Agaran naming ma-address ‘yung mga problema nila,” said Socorro Police Chief Captain Basil Montenegro.

(We were stationed here so we could address their problems immediately.)

The Senate started its investigation on the SBSI on September 28.

During the hearing, senators cited SBSI leader Jey Rence Quilario, or Senior Agila, and three others for contempt.

SBSI Vice President Mamerto Galanida was recently rushed to the hospital due to high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, the parents of the children who allegedly escaped from SBSI were a no-show for the hearing of the writ of habeas corpus they filed against the Socorro government. — Sundy Locus/DVM, GMA Integrated News

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