(COTABATO CITY/ March 5, 2021). The establishment of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is a product of the decades- long Bangsamoro struggle. Bangsamoro as identity of people are not only those who are in communities within the BARMM. There are millions of Bangsamoro who are residing outside the BARMM areas, and these people remain committed to the Bangsamoro cause for peace and development, and they wanted information and guidance from Bangsamoro leaders.
On February 27, 2021, over a hundred of Bangsamoro communities in Malapatan, Sarangani convened with the common interest to hear updates from Bangsamoro leaders and with the intent to understand how can they ask for assistance as people with challenges on access basic social services.
Chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Political Committee of Sugoda Buayan, one of the provinces in Southern Mindanao, stated in a message that the Bangsamoro communities in their areas, remain committed to peace and development, that they want to hear guidance from Bangsamoro leaders about their roles and functions as community members and local counterpart of the MILF.
The Sugoda Buayan community is also calling for support from Bangsamoro leaders e.g., scholarship programs, health assistance, others. Sugoda Buayan covers the municipalities of Malapatan, Glan, Gumasa, Malungon, Maasim, Alabel in Sarangani province and the City of General Santos.
In a statement, representative from Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) explained the processes how Bangsamoro communities outside BARMM can avail services from the government with proper coordination and communication.
“You can direct your concern about agriculture related assistance to MAFAR-BARMM, but you have to understand that we should coordinate with Region XII, since your municipality is within this region”, MAFAR-BARMM told.
Sheikh Khalifa Nando, Wali of the Bangsamoro, told that the leaders of the Bangsamoro have equal responsibility for both communities within and outside BARMM. He stressed that “only there are differences since the priority at present is on governance”.
BARMM was established in 2018 with the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). It is now running for a transition period until 2021 with a majority of officials appointed from the MILF.
‘We are speaking with Bangsamoro communities outside BARMM because we wanted to make you feel that we do not forget about you. We cannot forget about your situation and your voices remain with us as we work for the Bangsamoro Government”, Sheilk Nando told.
He urged the non-BARMM Moro communities to support the call for moral governance because “this is the government that will benefit all of us, because it is a product of the peace process that we all struggled for, in the past two decades”.
Another speaker from the activity further advised the attendees that “establishing BARMM does not mean employment for every Bangsamoro, it means remaining committed to continue the Bangsamoro struggle”.
Representative from the Office of the Secretariat of the MILF Central Committee spoke of the current situation of the MILF, leading the Bangsamoro Government, doing the governance role compare to its functions as revolutionary organization.
Participants to this gathering were coming from various line committees of the MILF such as political committee, da’wah, social welfare, shari’ah, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), Bangsamoro Women’s Auxiliary Brigade (BWAB), and people’s organizations like Taluya United Community Association, Sapu masla Association for Peace & Unity and Tuyan Muslim Christian Blaan Organization. Barangay Local Government Unit of Sapu Masla, Malapatan, Sarangani welcomed all the attendess, guests and visitors to the event.
Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) provided assistance in organizing and facilitating this significant gathering intended to contribute in sustaining the trust, confidence and commitment of Bangsamoro people, within and outside BARMM, over the peace process.
Created in 2002, BDA Inc. has been managing various programs and projects in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, which are covered within the agency’s six regional offices namely Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Davao, Ranaw, Zamboanga- Peninsula and Zamboanga-Basilan and with the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
For this event, BDA Inc. mobilize its regional office in Southern Mindanao where different development projects were implemented in the past years and still operating and have been expanding through the sustained commitment and unity of the people’s organizations in these areas.
Now operating as non-government organization, BDA Inc. upholds a mandate for relief, rehabilitation and development services within and beyond BARMM, and is looking forward to strengthen further development initiatives for the Bangsamoro communities outside BARMM.