The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office V (DSWD FO V) Regional Director, Norman Laurio, along with the Disaster Response Management Division (DRMD) and the Camarines Sur Provincial SWAD Action Team, personally distributed additional relief assistance to the families affected by a recent armed conflict incident in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, on March 12, 2024.

The conflict, which occured on March 4, 2024, between Government Troops and alleged New People’s Army (NPA) in Brgy Santa Rita and Bagong Silang, Del Gallego, resulted in the displacement of 24 families, impacting a total of 145 families or approximately 725 individuals across the 2 Barangays. There were no collateral damage and civilian casualties reported in the incident

Recognizing the urgent needs of the displaced families, DSWD FO V, in collaboration with the Local Government Unit, swiftly provided initial relief assistance of family food packs and hygiene kits worth PHP 68,851.20, just hours after the incident.

On March 10, 2024, The 81st Infantry (Spartan) Battalion discovered several anti-personnel mines (APMs), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), in the mountains of the aforementioned area. This came as a result of ongoing military operations following the incident. Aside from the APMs and IEDs, various materials for their construction such as detonating cords, PVC pipes with a six-inch diameter, blasting caps, batteries, and other explosive materials were also found and recovered in the area. In relation to this, the soldiers of the 81st Infantry (Spartan) Battalion continue to take measures for the safety of the townspeople.

Due to the high risk posed by armed groups and ongoing security measures by the Philippine Army in the area, currently, some 19 families remain displaced and are still seeking refuge among their relatives in the neighboring barangays, and 145 economically affected families still cannot resume their livelihood activities, particularly for farm workers whose livelihoods depend on areas affected by the incident.

In response to the persistent challenges faced by the affected families, DSWD Bicol led by RD Norman Laurio, distributed additional relief assistance, including Family Food Packs and essential non-food relief items such as sleeping kits and family kits, amounting to PHP 291,209.90.

Also present at the distribution were Del Gallego Town Chief Mayor Melanie A. Garcia and other municipal and barangay officials. In his message, RD Laurio also reassured the families that the agency, thru Secretary Gatchalian’s directives, will continue to provide for their needs and support them in overcoming this overwhelming crisis.

As members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and as the vice-chair for the response cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the agency’s aim is to promptly address the needs of the affected community by providing necessary services such as food and non-food relief assistance and psychological support services.###