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BDA Communications

BDA Communications

July 19, 2024/ COTABATO CITY. While the project encourages self- reliance to people’s organizations (PO) who are formed at the community level, it is also important that there is continuous guidance and supervision. This act is undertaken through constant monitoring, both actual and distant utilizing relevant tools and multi-media platforms.

Further, the project team likewise initiated supplemental training to strengthen the capacity of the PO- a community-based organization created to help manage the project at the grassroots level.

Twenty- four POs were recently undergoing training on organizational management, and policy formulation. This activity has started on July 15, 2024 and is expected to be completed by September this year. Participants are clustered based on their location to manage the learning process and for practical consideration of time.

In the said training, participants are learning relevant skills to strengthen their organizations through constant communication and by crafting and implementation of organizational policies.

According to them, the activity guided them of practical, strategic and contextualized ways to pursue with their organizations and get the most of the investments provided to them such as numerous trainings along with the complete set of tools and equipment for their livelihood activities.

These inputs were found significant based on the findings from the recent monitoring that many of the POs failed to see and practice the importance of conducting organizational meetings where they get talks and updates in planning together the management, operation and sustainability of their groups and their respective enterprises.

Related inputs on production, packaging, marketing and profit- sharing were also taught to the participants. Resource persons likewise refreshed the knowledge of the participants with topics on the roles and responsibilities, membership and organizational structure.

Under the project, these POs were organized and provided with specific skills trainings tailored to their chosen enterprises based on the available raw materials in their localities.

By learning the skills, these POs were able to yield various products that they sell, from which they generate income helpful for their families, like banana chips, native delicacies, coconut oil, palapa (local spicy side dish), bread, rice products, others.

Operating their respective local business, these POs who are mainly composed of women discovered their potentials to become more productive for their families and communities.

However, they need further support and so the said training on strengthening their capacities were carried out.

This initiative to extend further support to the POs is relevant to the on-going implementation of the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition.

Approaching its final year as a project, SUBABATRA-ECSO works for the Component 4 of the entire SUBATRA Programme, which is the is the Justice and Society Project- The capacity of civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is enhanced.

In 2023, the project has benefited 4, 860 individuals across the 24 communities within and outside the Bangsamoro Region, with various development assistance on basic social services and protection, livelihood, capacity buildings, among others.

Launched in 2021, the SUBATRA-ECSO  is a project funded by the European Union European Union in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID Philippines.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is managing the implementation of the project together with partner civil society organizations (CSOs) in the BARMM. (BDA Communications 2024)

JULY 10, 2024. We were informed of the cultural sensitivity of the community. We were warned of the difficulty of reaching the distance. We listened and understood.

Driven by the trust of partners and the pledge to help the underserved communities, we went on to the mission in the island province of Tawi- Tawi in Bangsamoro Region.

One in the list is the provision of support to Sama village in Brgy. Buan, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. This is through the project called "Building Resilient Livelihoods and Communities through Climate-Smart Aquaculture Value Chain in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu Archipelago” under the SPADe Project.

The project is co-funded by the European Union and the German Ferderal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) implemented by German International Cooperation (GIZ).

It aims to promote inclusive socio-economic development and contribute to peacebuilding, food security, and environmental conservation through climate-resilient and sustainable livelihood interventions in aquaculture value chain in the Tawi-Tawi and Sulu Archipelago

This intervention comes with the assistance for the seaweed farmers in the said village. Beneficiaries recently completed training on seaweed culture that taught them practical and modern methods of growing the sea produce while considering the environment and climate change.

Partners from the MAFAR Tawi- Tawi Provincial Office and MSU Tawi- Tawi presented and discussed the lectures to the participants.

Prior to this, seaweed inputs and seedlings together with boat engines were delivered to the beneficiary- cooperative that brought much joy and higher hopes to the community.

At present, the bidding process is on-going for the construction of seaweed solar dryer with warehouse at Brgy. Buan.

Meanwhile, also in Tawi-Tawi, is the assistance for the Sama- Badjao community in Bongao, the capital of the province.

Significant activities has been achieved for the Sama- Badjao beginning in January 2024. The recent of which was the re-activation of the people’s organization in the village and the identification of community-based livelihood support.

This specific development aid for the Sama-Badjao is being carried out through the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition.

SUBATRA-ECSO is a project funded by the European Union European Union in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID Philippines.

Indeed, distance may be one crucial factor that hinders the delivery of basic social services to people. This reality and the risks it bring to the project team serves as inspiration to go beyond the barriers and bring in the development and assistance needed.

Cultural hurdles is also true, especially for those isolated communities where information and education were less available.

However, these certainties must not prevent the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) to fulfill its mandate for relief, rehabilitation and development services within and outside BARMM.

Beyond limits, BDA is committed to reach more communities, near, far, and to touch lives of more people from various sectors.

 

JULY 10, 2024/COTABATO CITY-BARMM. Peacebuilding is a shared responsibility. It must involve all sectors, from the grassroots level up to the top leaders.   

This article highlights the significance of bringing development assistance to the remote communities as one action towards peacebuilding, through inclusive and transparent approaches.

For instance, an island community that has received assistance from the Bangsamoro Government, for the first time; a village that was once a hideout and a refuge during the war in the past, a women group by the lake in Lanao, the hopes in rehabilitating a village in Basilan, transformation in camp communities, and all other tales all over the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, an elderly religious leader witnessed the struggle and life of people in the village, thus he hopes for a continuing assistance towards community progress.

Fatima Baluno of Brgy. Balakacayon in Pigcawayan, SGA-BARMM is glad that from a jungle, their village has significantly developed with the coming of different aids.

“It was hardly accessible, it was once a forest. Now it has transformed into a developed community”, she stated.

Meanwhile, women group in a village along Lake Lanao sees hope that in joining community development initiatives, they will become more productive for their families.

In Basilan, while leaders target for rehabilitation of the area, women join hands in organizing and strengthening their group through livelihood activities where they generate income.

These people, whom we spoke are engaged in the various activities conducted in relevance to the on-going project that supports the Bangsamoro Transition.

The project, dubbed as SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition, works for the Component 4: Justice and Society Project- The capacity of civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is enhanced.

SUBATRA-ECSO covers 24 villages within and outside the Bangsamoro Region, where there are People’s Organizations (POs) formed to help manage the project at the community level.

These POs were being provided with various trainings that build their capacities to be able to help facilitate project activities in the ground.

These community organizations now operates their respective local enterprises using the knowledge and skills taught to them during project trainings with the set of tools and equipment provided to them through the SUBATRA-ECSO.

Support to communities with these approach has been crucial in building peace at the grassroots level. For the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) implementing the SUBATRA-ECSO, bringing the project to the communities means communicating peace and development.

It helps send the messages that these communities, despite the distance, are not forgotten.

Through the series of Community Assembly with Provision of Services in Support to Bangsamoro Transition, BDA, together with officials from the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the BARMM MOAs (ministries, offices and agencies) has brought the Bangsamoro Government closer to the people.

People were able to speak and relayed their concerns and needs to the BARMM while receiving basic aid such as food packs and educational kits.

Together with partner civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Bangsamoro, BDA has been touching the lives of many people across the region, and even beyond, for instance the camp communities.

Indigenous people (IP) communities are also counted in this development interventions, recognizing their needs and rights as one people.

Partner CSOs in delivering support to communities are the Raja Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc.; Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc.;League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO); Ittihadun Nisa Foundation, Inc.; Kabalikat CIVICOM (Sulu), and Taga Youth Concerned Association (Basilan).

Launched in 2021, SUBATRA-ECSO is a project funded by the European Union European Union in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID Philippines.

JULY 9, 2024. In the field of humanitarian aid and development, allocation of resources and assistance marks a critical phase in efforts to uplift communities affected by various challenges. The provision of aid is often a lifeline for vulnerable populations. However, ensuring that this assistance reaches its intended recipients effectively and efficiently is just as crucial as the initial act of distribution itself.

For the on-going project related to the development and transformation of camp communities (areas that belong or affected by armed conflict in Mindanao), an initiative called as Post-Distribution Monitoring (PDM) was carried out through methodical evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the aid distributed to the recipients of the project.

The PDM helped fill in gaps or difficulties, by collecting inputs from the beneficiaries. This monitoring activity enabled the team discover if agreed procedures in project implementation and management at the community level are followed properly to achieve its several benefits.

Through the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment, various development assistance were already distributed to the community- groups in the six major acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) namely, Camp Abubakar, Camp Badre, Camp Bilal, Camp Bushra, Camp Omar and Camp Rajamuda.

There were nineteen (19) units of farm machineries, which are already operating to ease agricultural processes in the camps. Its operation, significant to farm activities produces income for the cooperatives organized through the PROACTIVE.

Three infrastructure projects were completed and turned over to the People’ Organizations (POs) who are formed to manage its operations: tribal hall in Camp Omar (Brgy. Kabengi, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao); solar dryer with warehouse & school library in Camp Abubakar (Brgy. Tugaig Barira, Maguindanao).

In seeing the impact of the development and transformation in the camps, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) visited the community- recipients of the said projects, met and talked to the people for updates and progress of its operations.

As a result of the activity, the beneficiary cooperatives and POs reported the positive impact of the projects in their lives.

Accordingly, the farm inputs already generates more income relevant to their groups. In fact, some of the cooperatives were able purchase additional machinery such as corn sheller that supports to their income generation and other agri activities, as well.

It was also noted that in operating in managing those projects, cooperatives were gradually applying the knowledge and skills they gained from various capacity building activities provided to them by the PROACTIVE.

For the project team, it is good to know that the beneficiaries are thriving as one group, and one community driven by the shared aspiration towards transformation and development.

They are the people in the communities, who experienced conflict in the past, now emerge as a center of progress, capacity building, community development and peace.

The PDM, relevant to PROACTIVE was conducted from June 13- 23, 2024 in the six major camps of the MILF.

PROACTIVE aims to contribute in enhancing local capacities to facilitate transition and transformation of the six (6) acknowledged camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

It is being funded by the European Union (EU) and the UNDP Philippines, implemented in collaboration with the BDA.

JUNE 21, 2024/ Bangsamoro Region. This blessed day has come again, where ‘takbeer al-mursal’ is heard around Muslim communities worldwide, where everyone wear their finest clothes and pray together in an open field or the masjid, where you smell and see bulk of animals such as cattle, goats, sheeps or lambs being transported,  which meat will be shared among neighbors, families, relatives and friends.

It is the day called “Eid’l Adha” (Feast of Sacrifice), an annual religious holiday in Islam celebrated worldwide. It brings the story of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) who was willing to sacrifice his son Ismail in obedience and faith to Allah subhanahu wata’ala. It teaches and reminds the mankind about sacrifice where one able individual or family would will to share what is dear to them, for other people.

In Bangsamoro Region, in the Mindanao Island of the Philippines, it is a common practice for many urban families to go to their home provinces for a quick break from the city, pray together, visit and reunite with relatives, live with nature for a moment, savour and share various local dishes, and among others.

Qurban Program

On Eid’l Adha, millions of animals are sacrificed which meat are distributed to families, relatives, friends, neighbors and poor communities in spirit of generosity and faith.

Each year, individuals, families, and various organizations and foundations who can afford for animals to sacrifice perform Qurban. In Bangsamoro Region, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), a non- government organization working to help disadvantaged communities has been implementing Qurban Program (sacrifice and distribution of meat on Eid) since 2014.

This program is supported by donor foundations from Turkey. For 2024, the Qurban Program is sponsored by Turkiye Dyanet Vakfi and Weltweiter Einsatz Für Arme (WEFA).

Distribution of meat benefited thousands of families in Bangsamoro communities from June 16- 18, 2024.

There were also hundreds of families who received zakat/ zekat (financial assistance) on June 19, 2024.  

Finding the right one cattle

Cattle is a common type of animal permissible for sacrifice during Eid’l Adha along with sheeps, goats or lambs.

Based on the teachings, animals for slaughter for this religious occasion must meet the standards such as age, weight, health conditions, others.

For the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), operating in Bangsamoro Region, who has been implementing Qurban Program since 2014, procurement of cows requires meticulous consideration, to follow the rulings. Donor partners check each cattle based on what is prescribed.

“There are significant considerations since cows here in our country is small in size compare to those cattle from the other country”, BDA reports.

Qurban beneficiaries

Significant part of the animal’s meat sacrificed shall be distributed to poor families. In Bangsamoro Region, beneficiaries are usually the operators of pedicab, bangkilo (local boat), farmers and fisher folks, families in rural communities, others.

1 kilogram of beef costs P380.00 and a pedicab driver earns P200-300.00 daily, so, it is definitely hard for a family with this income to procure a meat. Indeed, provision of free meat is beneficial for these families who can only consume meat during Eid or relevant occasions. This generosity brings joy and nutrition to less privileged families, while it carries the message of compassion, sacrifice and faith.

Eid’l Adha in Bangsamoro

In an article published at BARMM’s official website, Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim stated: “As we commemorate this day, let us emulate the devotion of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.), especially in times when fate is not on our side”.

“It is through the sacrifices and obedience of the Bangsamoro people that we have progressed in our struggle for justice and equality,” the Chief Minister added.

(BDA Communication, 2024)

 

June 21, 2024/ Cotabato City- BARMM. Based on the data presented by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as of June 6, 2024, there were 1, 391 individuals who completed the Values Transformation Training (VTT) as integrated in the Bangsamoro Scholarship Program of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE-BARMM) through its Technical Education and Skills Development (TESD) Department.

There were 720 MILF decommissioned combatants who underwent VTT as part of the capacity building program intended for this group in relevance to the on-going decommissioning in the Bangsamoro as informed by the Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of the GPH-MILF in 2014.

Sixty members of cooperatives supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST-BARMM) have been reported learning the VTT and its importance for their organization to become more meaningful and functional not only to their groups but also to their respective communities.  

Meanwhile, values training for the employees and officials of the Bangsamoro Government is likewise happening at present, with the data still being consolidated.

VTT has also been identified as significant activity for the community groups organized for the program being implemented in the camp communities. In 2024, there were 59 who joined VTT and more are expected to the similar training in the next coming weeks.

For year 2023, as stated in the Annual Report of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), the number of individuals who completed the VTT is 13, 095 with the breakdown as follows: 370 BARMM employees, 11, 153 Beneficiaries of the Bangsamoro Scholarship Program of MBHTE-TESD, 240 decommissioned combatants of the MILF, 200 youth combatants with the Bangsamoro Youth Commission, 725 cooperatives members supported by the MOST-BARMM and 380 beneficiaries of the project in camp communities.

BDA has been the official trainer and facilitator of the VTT in support to moral governance. This responsibility has been an honor for the agency with the values training as crucial approach and substantial inputs in building the working force of the Bangsamoro Government by teaching the Universal values for an individual to become more responsible with his duties, therefore delivers better services and relationship to the people.  

VTT is a 3-day course that highlights values and its relevance to one’s personality development. The training comes with an interactive and reflective sessions that help the participant deeply understand his personality, strengths and weaknesses, and realize the connection to one’s faith as foundation and entirety of every person’s life.

Know more about VTT at https://bda.org.ph/index.php/projects/flagship-program/vtt and at www.bda.org.ph

June 6, 2024/ SULU-BARMM. Jintan, 15, lost her mother when she was still young. Their father remarried and now with his new family.

Together with her younger sister, Jintan is currently under the guardianship of their aunt who supports their education and living at Brgy. Timbangan, Indanan, Sulu, Bangsamoro Region.

Jintan is in Grade 8 while her sister is in 6th grade of studies.

They are grateful to her Aunt’s family for the love and care they receive, as if they are not strangers.

Her aunt helps at the school canteen and sometimes sells assorted items in the neighborhood, while the husband is a laborer.

Jintan told that when the BARMM has come, they are automatically included whenever there is a program like provision of basic services.

“Through this project and the BARMM, we experience being a beneficiary, receiving assistance that is beneficial to our life and education”, she reported.

Jintan hopes for further support like scholarship to ensure continuation and completion of education with her sister and the other less privileged youth in the community.

Jintan and the other orphans and youth were the recipients of food packs and educational kit during the recent Community Assembly with Provision of Services in Timbangan.

Organized by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) together with partner CSO Kabalikat CIVICOM, this event was successfully conducted in support of the Bangsamoro Government and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

From the BARMM through its provincial offices in Sulu Island were the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC), Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism (MTIT), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).

Office of Matarul Estino of the BTA through its official representative graced the assembly and complemented the food packs provided to the people.

There were 80 families who received food items and there were 100 youth offered with educational kits.

The beneficiaries who were pre-profiled belong to the vulnerable groups such as women, widows, orphans, youth, (PWDs) person with disabilities, indigenous people, transitioning combatants, elderlies and others.

Abdulrakman Ali, 40, a PWD is among the recipients of this assistance. He is grateful for the help. His parents are old already and it is his siblings who work for living for the family’s daily sustenance.

“This food pack is a big help for us. At least, our meals for one to two days is secured with this blessing”, Abdulrakman stated.

Meanwhile, Nurisa, 39, a mother of six shares their hard work in the family to suffice their needs with the daily income of P400.00 by her husband as a jeepney driver.

“We do our best for this amount to be enough for our family. We are able to send our children to school, with our eldest who is now in college level of education. We really wanted them to finish their studies”, she conveyed.

Another story we learned from Sulu is about Nurmirin, 37, a widow in the same village.

Selling local dishes at the community level while being a member of the village council is the source of income for Nurmirin to provide for her two children alone, since she lost her husband who was a tricycle driver.

Nurmirin holds a degree in education but was not fortunate to land a professional job. Despite this, she remains strong and hopeful.

 “I am doing everything for my children to not feel the absence of their father. It is not easy to be a solo parent but this is my fate. I have to be strong”, she emotionally expressed.

As a mother, Nurmirin aspires for her children to complete their education, “for them to experience better life that I could not provide”.

Nurmirin is an active member of the People’s Organization formed in Timbangan who received training on coconut processing with provision of tools and equipment.

The group produced various food items from coconut that they sell to generate extra income for their families.

Timbangan, Indanan Sulu

Growing up in their village, Jintan is aware of the living condition of the people in Brgy. Timbangan.

“Here in Brgy. Timbangan, people are into farming (e.g., coconut), labor works, while others do part- time domestic jobs to some households in the village”, Jintan said.

Nurisa talked about the poor conditions of the village before BARMM.

“Now, we have better roads, solar street lights and accessible potable water source”, she stated.

On the other hand, Nurmirin spoke that “When the BARMM came, we see hope. Before, the poor get poorer. Now we gradually feel the services and we pray for more aid towards continuing change in our community”.

Through the collaboration of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Bangsamoro, support to communities has becoming extra relevant to the overall progress of the people and the society.

For the BDA reaching numerous villages within and outside BARMM, is crucial and significantly contributes to the current transition in the Bangsamoro, and to the peace and development in the region.

Through the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition, there were 24 communities who have benefited of various development assistance on basic social services and protection, livelihood, capacity buildings, among others.

Launched in 2021, the SUBATRA-ECSO  is a project funded by the European Union European Union in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID Philippines.(BDA Communications 2024)

June 2024/ COTABATO CITY-BARMM. For a 24-old youth Ale, peace is when people are helping each other towards goodness and when people are upholding unity.

An Ustadz (teacher of Islamic education) named Muntasir, believes that peace is when people can freely practice religion, able to do livelihood, when the children can avail education and when there is an absence of fear.

To a combatant’s wife and a mother of seven, Fatima, peace is the absence of conflict. Peace is when there are development projects coming in the community and when people enjoy freedom to do things.   

Ale (Alleah T. Mama) is from Kinebeka, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao, a village covered by the MILF Camp Badre.

She came from a separated family and she desires to be reunited with her other siblings. Living with her elder sister, Ale had to pause her studies due to health condition. However, she chose to be an active youth by joining community organizations.

“I join the community group to build my confidence, be able to stand and speak in front of the people. I am here with the hope to be aware of social issues like the gender sensitivity, conflict management and among others, which can be beneficial to me in the future” she said.

Ale looks forward to be a social worker, someday to be able to help the people in need.

Muntasir S. Salih, 28, is from Brgy. Tuayan Mother, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur (Camp Omar).

He recalled that during the past years, whenever people see or hear the military trucks, they felt the fear. But now, people in the community can look for livelihood, with the improved peace and order in the village.

Muntasir, however reported the minimal conflict in the community, which they pray to be settled soon.

As a local Islamic educator, Muntasir is committed to impart his knowledge to the people and the children.

“The first reason why I teach in the Madrasah (Islamic school) is because when a person has knowledge of Islam it is his obligation to share his knowledge, help people and guide children who wanted to study. Lastly, I teach in desire for the reward from Allah (subahanahu wa taallah)" Muntasir said.

With a Master’s Degree in Arabic, he has a secondary level of regular education. According to him, financial constraint as well as the unstable peace and order hampered his access of formal schooling, a common story of youth in the camp communities.

On the other hand, Fatima A. Ali, 52, from Sifaran Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte (Camp Badre), is a daughter of a fallen warrior who fought the battle in 1979. She was married to a combatant and had seven children.

For seven years, Fatima had to solely look after the kids when her husband took job overseas due to financial responsibility for the family.

However, those challenges did not stop Fatima to take active role in their community. She joined the MILF’s Social Welfare Committee- the women wing of this revolutionary organization.

With her experience in the organization, Fatima was able to form a cooperative of women in their village.

“I pursue the cooperative through the SWC because this will enable us to receive assistance that will benefits us a lot. We will help one another to sustain the project, not only for our family, but for the whole community”, she said.

Fatima encourages the women to participate in community and social activities so that they will learn and won’t be left behind.

Camps transformation and development

The signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014 between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) covers Annex on Normalization that states about the transformation and development of camp communities.

Under the CAB, there are six major camps identified namely Camp Abubakar as Siddique in Maguindanao, Camp Badre in Maguindanao, Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Camp Bushra Somiorang in Lanao del Sur, Camp Omar Ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao and Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

In 2018, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) has started reaching the camp communities with support from donor partners, national and local stakeholders of peace and development. These interventions are significant in the transition of the camps from conflict to peaceful and progressive communities.

 At present, BDA implements various programs and projects that benefits the communities in the camps. Ale, Muntasir, and Fatima are members of the local social formation groups organized through the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment.

PROACTIVE is being implemented in support to camps transformation and development. It aims to aims to contribute in enhancing local capacities to facilitate transition and transformation of the six (6) acknowledged camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

The project is funded by European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implemented in collaboration with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) and UNDP-Philippines.

May 2024/ COTABATO CITY-BARMM. It was in 2018, we were traversing a rough road in a remote village in Maguindanao of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with a woman of war and struggle, who was recalling those hard times during the battle in the past years.

She joined our trip to an uphill community, to meet the indigenous people (IP) in the area, that day.

On our way, this woman who is a wife to a field commander of the armed forces of the MILF, was telling us stories during the times of war. She would compare the tough road then, to the present condition as we were passing by. She would point us to some spots, which are memorable to them e.g., where they get water and food, or stood for a while to hide or rest from running due to war.

“There were no vehicles then. We walked through this land. I have vegetable gardens there. I was very serious about planting. I loved it, those days”, she told giggling.

“And those banana plants”, she added, were very important those days. My husband would really tell his men to plant and plant banana, because according to him, in times of war, we never know what happens. So when we run and hide, and get hungry, we can eat through the bananas, it’s a survival.”

When we finally arrived, we met women in the village. It was in Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, a community located in Camp Badre- one of the six major camps of the MILF as identified in the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

We talked with IP women who descended from their uphill community of the barangay. Accordingly, they walked hours from their home to reach the center of the village, where we met.

The IP sector in the camp has received a farm facility through a project implemented that year (2021). According to them, the corn sheller given to them is indeed a big help.

“We process our corn products manually at home, almost everyone in the family work together. It took us days or a week before we can finish”, they stated.

(IN PHOTO: An IP woman from Camp Badre posed with a farm machinery provided to them in 2020, significant to ease their farm processes in the upper hill village of Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao).

Based on data of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), selected communities in the six major camps of the MILF including the Brgy. Datalpandan have been receiving development projects such as warehouse with solar dryer, water system, road projects, community learning centers, solar panel, agri-trading and production facilities, health facilities, road projects, tribal hall for the IPs, including support on various capacity building activities.  

There was also the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and livelihood support to organized groups in those communities.

From 2021 (last quarter) to present, the project in support to Bangsamoro Transition covers areas in the camps to sustain the milestones on transformation and development. It is funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation Agency (AECID).

There were 342 completers to ALS who are now formed as people’s organizations to undergo skills training towards social enterprise development.

Early in 2022, another program was launched related to camps development with fund source from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and EU. In the camps are cooperatives, people’s organizations and local social formation groups who are being supported by the program. Various infrastructure projects will also be constructed through this program.

Mid of the same year, the project on camps transformation kicked off carrying various services for the camps people.

All these development interventions, already implemented and still being worked out are all beneficial to the community beneficiaries, helpful in improving the life conditions of the people in those remote areas.

(IN PHOTO: Women, widows, elderlies were among the completers of ALS in the camps that gave them the chance to get education through the program. A chance that was once elusive due to conflict in the past years.)

In Camp Rajamuda, among the ALS completer in August 2022 was a widow who was very happy completing her basic education through the program. She is solely providing for her eight children and being able to study was a big accomplishment for her.

Also in this camp is a high hope for the farmers who will be receiving warehouse with solar dryer.

"With this project, our farming process will be easier”, the farmers expressed.

In Camp Omar, the organized PO is thankful for the continuing aid, through the skills training to help them establish local business.

The tribal hall being constructed at present gives joy to the IP community in this camp.

“There will be more benefits from this tribal hall. We can use this during community gatherings, local occasions, meetings, cultural activities, others”, the IP group said.

In Camp Bilal, a hopeful mother named Racma Baluwa, 30, recall that “I was a child then. We were evacuees. We heard the bombings and saw the explosions. Now, I join this cooperative hoping that it will bring income for my growing family.”  

A youth in the same camp, was happy for being able to continue her studies through the ALS.

In Camp Bushra, a hanging bridge has connected the isolated community in Brgy. Butig, Lanao del Sur through the project implemented in 2021.

In Camp Abubakar, the experience of war becomes the strength of the people to be united and welcome the development coming in to their community.

“It feels good that those we thought impossible are happening now. Life was hard, in the past years. We were very far. There was no stable peace and order. Frequently, there were threats, doubts, and fears. Now, we live with peace”, a woman stated.

One BIAF member shared that their village in the camp was once isolated, with only one or two houses to be found. But, now more people are coming, building their homes, for good.

Data shows that 2018-2019 camps project benefited 51, 410 people with an overall total cost of Php 57M. From 2020-2021 there were 3,471 people served by the project that spent about Php 27M. In 2021, through the Camps of Learning Project (CLP), there were 480 learners of ALS and beneficiaries of skills trainings for livelihood support. In August 2023, there were 342 ALS completers in the camps. And there are 24 cooperatives, 26 people’s organizations and 24 local social formation groups established in relevance to the on-going camps project.

The Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front states about the need for development assistance in the communities that were once centers of battlefields in the past years. These interventions shall be significant to help them transition from conflict to peaceful and progressive communities.

The BDA Inc., as development agency of the MILF, now operating as non-government organization has been a partner towards this mission as the quest for long-lasting peace and development goes on.

(IN PHOTO: Students in MILF Camp Abubakar As- Siddique now enjoy better access to learning through the library project implemented through the PROACTIVE in April 2024.)

May 10, 2024. Data shows that for the current year, there are 510 decommissioned combatants who completed the Values Transformation Training (VTT) as integral course required in the process of Normalization- a term used to define the transitioning of conflict communities, from years of battles into peaceful and progressive society in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of GPH-MILF in 2014.

Decommissioned combatants are those who are selected to undergo decommissioning- a relevant part of the Normalization process where former combatants are selected to undertake various activities essential to build and develop their capacity through trainings and education.

One strategy adopted is the Values Transformation Training (VTT) that teaches the combatants the importance of faith-based values as foundation towards self-change and personality development.

VTT believes in the integration of values to the process of change, which shall start at one’s self. The training teaches personality development of an individual by reflecting on his strengths and weaknesses, values and faith, therefore enabling him to identify ways to improve as a person. With this, he/ she would become a better being, which would manifest in his/ her actions to others and in the society.

For the decommissioned combatants, it is expected that they would live by the faith-based values as they transition into normal and productive civilian life.

“One important thing I learned from VTT is being consistent in self- discipline. This training adds to my learnings about values and faith”, a 42-year old participant told.

The on-going VTT for the decommissioned combatants is relevant to the project SPAN: Support to Peacebuilding and Normalization Project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities (TFDCC), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is the official training facilitator of the VTT.

According to BDA, there are two more batches of decommissioned combatants who will undergo VTT in the next coming days.

BDA is the development arm of the MILF established in 2002, and is now operating as duly registered non- government organization in 2019 with the official name, BDA Inc. (BDA Communication 2024)

 

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