On 8th April, IOM together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) facilitated an event called "An Evening on the Progress and Challenges of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Philippines" in Makati City. The event was attended by more than 60 participants from government partners, embassies, donors, UN partners and non-profit organizations.
The evening event provided an opportunity to learn and share knowledge about the current situation, progress and challenges of IDPs in the Philippines, and to discuss the contents and the implementation status of the House Bill 4744 that was signed in July 2014. If made into the law, this would make the Philippines the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to have a comprehensive legislation that protects people against arbitrary displacement and guarantees the rights of the IDPs in accordance with international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
Moderated by IOM’s CCCM Programme Manager Conrad Navidad, the three-hour event was filled with an interactive dialogue between the three panelists: House of Representatives Legislator Hon. Ibarra "Barry" M. Gutierrez III, Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Alamia Masuhud, and the UNHCR Philippines Country Director Bernard Kerblat.
On the current situation of the IDPs, Atty. Alamia highlighted that displacement “had become a way of life” in the Mindanao region, where people have been constantly displaced because of various conflicts and natural disasters. Mr. Kerblat also pointed out the need to look at multiple factors behind the internal displacement in Mindanao and other regions in the Philippines.
On the House Bill 4744, Hon. Ibarra "Barry" M. Gutierrez III explained that the Bill adopts a rights-based approach for promotion and protection of the rights of IDPs, while emphasizing that the integrated political will is still needed for these provisions to be truly materialized. The panel discussions were followed by an active questions and answers session involving all the participants.