Marawi Residents Defend DSWD’s Bautista

Some Meranaws in Marawi City have thrown their support for retired army general and now Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista after he was berated on air by popular radio personality for supposedly failing to grant an interview request.

Bautista, who was the overall ground commander during the Marawi siege in 2017, is a beloved figure among Marawi residents who expressed their support for the DSWD chief on social media.

Media personality Erwin Tulfo berated Bautista and called the latter names when the DSWD official begged off an interview as he was on a meeting with an ambassador when the request was made.

Zia Alonto Adiong, assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, on Friday said he strongly vouches for Bautista’s “ability to deliver on the basis of his stellar performance and unquestionable credibility as a decorated soldier and an effective public servant”.

Adiong was the spokesperson of Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Management and Coordination Center during the five-month siege in Marawi City, working alongside with Bautista.

“He didn’t only engage the terrorists head-on inside the main battle area throughout the entire course of the conflict but had parallel programs with local youth groups to institutionalize his vision for a tolerant and welcoming society free from violent extremists and radicals, Adiong said in his Facebook post.

Adiong added Bautista believed “in the capacity of our youth to become active partners of the government in maintaining a secure and safe environs for all.”

Aslani Montila, executive director of Siyap ko Pagtaw, a civil society group in Marawi City, also gave his support for Bautista on social media, saying it was during Bautista’s time as DSWD secretary that the relief assistance was converted into cash.

It can be recalled that displaced families have been asking the DSWD to convert their relief goods to cash so that they could buy fish and vegetables for their meals, instead of repeatedly eating canned goods and noodles in evacuation centers.

Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, retired as commanding general of the Philippine Army in October 2018.

He was the first commander of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and was later appointed him as DSWD secretary after his retirement.

Adiong said that when Bautista took over the department, he “placed Marawi’s internally displaced persons central in his office priorities and extended to qualified beneficiaries” the 53,000 pesos Transitory Family Support Package (TFSP), the PHP20,000 Livelihood Settlement Grants (LSG) and the PHO1,359 worth of provision of “pabaon” relief pack.”

Jamila Taha, an employee of DSWD in Marawi City, also chided Tulfo in a Facebook post.

“When you insulted our secretary (Bautista), you insulted the whole institution,” Taha said. (PNA)

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