March 24, 2022. In this era of internet connectivity during the pandemic and of the development in the on-going transition within the Bangsamoro, how do the communities from the Island provinces in the region access information for basic services from the government?
Aware of the realities related to communication technology in the Island provinces of Tawi- Tawi, Sulu and Basilan, the team of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) recently took a mission in these islands in relation to the implementation of the SUBATRA-ECSO Project.
Part of the project as introduced to the communities of Tawi- Tawi, Sulu and Basilan, is the focus on connecting the BARMM to its people to be able to improve public service delivery.
During the meeting with the people in Brgy. Pasiagan, Bongao, Tawi- Tawi, one woman said that they have been longing to feel BARMM, and believes that this is the beginning of it, through BDA, with this project.
In Sulu, specific concern on health was documented. “There are available medicines in our village health center, but is not accessible because we do not know the prescription”.
In Basilan, local leaders in Hadji Mohammad Ajul and Al-barka believes that projects focusing on education and empowerment is much appropriate for their people compare to infrastructure project because it will help promote understanding and enlightenment needed by the communities.
“There have been infra projects here, but were not anymore functional due to lack of capacity of the people on operation, maintenance and sustainability. Peace and order is also a factor”, the local leader said.
The meeting with the local leaders and residents of Tawi- Tawi was on March 10-11, 2022, Sulu was on March 14-15 and Basilan on March 17-18.
During these series of meetings in the island provinces, BDA introduced the Project, SUBATRA-ECSO and talked about the interventions intended for the specific target groups like women, widows, orphans, transitioning combatants, elderlies, PWDs and indigenous people.
BDA Project Team explained that the project is helping the BARMM during the on-going transition by reaching out the communities and get their needs and concerns in their respective communities.
The project components are assistance for vulnerable groups, advancing human rights promotion and protection in the Bangsamoro, social enterprise development and community- feedback mechanism.
The community members we met and the LGU welcomed the project and appreciated the effort of reaching out to them, despite the distance.
“Even at this moment of our first meeting for this project, we are already happy. We hope that this is not the last time that you came here. We really need assistance, for instance, the case of the orphans here. We hope that you will come back”, a woman from Brgy. Malacca said.
For the project activities in the island provinces, BDA is working with partners CSOs like Taga Youth Concern Association in Basilan, Kabalicat CIVICOM in Sulu and the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) through its member organization UNYPAD in Tawi- Tawi.
SUBATRA-ECSO works for the Component 4 of the SUBATRA Programme that helps BARMM lay the foundation for lasting peace and development in the region by strengthening the capacities of its institutions to establish an enabling democratic governance environment during the transition period.
The Project generally aims to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro. It specifically intends to enhance the capacity of the civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to BARMM.
It is funded by the European Union (#EU), and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (#AECID).