Gov’t to evacuate 21,000 villagers in Sulu

MANILA, Philippines—The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) has set an emergency plan to evacuate 21,000 people from five towns in Sulu province, should hostilities erupt between the military and Islamic extremists who have been holding three Red Cross workers, Malacañang said Thursday.

The contingency plan will be activated in a “worst case scenario” when civilians are in danger of being caught in a crossfire, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

“The NDCC is seeing around 4,200 families that will be affected, roughly 21,000 people in five towns in Sulu. The DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] has identified 19 evacuation centers,” Golez told reporters in the Palace.

Golez said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., who chairs the NDCC, to prepare the plan.

The five towns that will be evacuated are Indanan, Parang, Maimbung, Patikul, and Talipao, he said.

A state of emergency was declared in Sulu last Tuesday as the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead one of the International Committee of the Red Cross workers after the government did not heed the extremists’ demand to withdraw all its troops in Sulu.

Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian national Eugenio Vagni, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba were seized by the Abu Sayyaf while on a humanitarian mission in Sulu on January 15.

Joel Guinto, INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Comments Off on Gov’t to evacuate 21,000 villagers in Sulu  
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