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PIKIT, SGA-BARMM/ JUNE 6, 2022. Talking about life in Buliok, Pikit of the Special Geographical Areas of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Saida Abdulrahman, 45 cannot help but cry. Five years ago, her husband, a combatant was shot to death leaving his family of six.

Together with six other women in the village, whom we spoke with during our visit on May 3, 2022, Saida shared to us their living condition before BARMM.

“Before, we do not get assistance frequently compare to present days, now that we are part of the BARMM”, Saida told.  

“We are grateful for the BARMM. We have received many help from them. As a widow, I received monetary assistance, from which I bought goats for raising to augment our livelihood. Our family is also a recipient of food supply as flood-affected community”, she added.

Musrifa Sandigan, 33 is a former OFW. She returned home during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein the situation was hard.

“I am lucky that I was among those who benefited from the land ambulance that fetched from the airport”, Musrifa stated.

The said ambulance is from the Ministry of Health (MOH-BARMM) funded through the Office of the Parliament Member Hon. Ali O. Salik.

As a former OFW, Musrifa likewise received cash aid from the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Member Salik through the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD).

Gemma Caludin, 50, from Antique embraced life in Brgy. Buliok years ago, when she met her husband in Manila. They got married and went home in Buliok. They have three kids. The husband is among the decommissioned combatants of the MILF.

The family of Monera Milog, 37, is a beneficiary of the cash for work program of the MSSD in 2021 with the Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU) of Buliok. The project is the construction of dyke that helped to the flood control in the area.

Noraida Mangagi, 47, has six children whom sustained through farming. Sarina, 40, is also a mother, with three children. The family rely on farming and fishing for living.

Monera Tumampal, 55, was emotional while sharing the story of the death of her child away from home in year 2021.

Accordingly, for some reason, local authorities from the place of incident would not give the cadaver of her child. Through the help of MP Salik, with the use of the ambulance, the family was able to bring home the body and was given a proper burial based on Islamic tradition. 

These women are all beneficiary of the assistance from BARMM and the Office of MP Salik such as the food supply, cash assistance, road project, medical aid, land ambulance, school building, others.

The infamous Buliok, is a historical place popularly known as Buliok Complex, a war that happened in February 2003. It was where the late chairman of the MILF Hashim Salamat (May Allah have mercy on him) was doing a preach outdoor during the Eid’l Adha (feast of Sacrifice) prayer when they were attacked by government troops that led to the that battle.  

MP Salik, recalls that after the war, Brgy. Buliok became a ghost town. “People were able to return there, more than a year after that incident”.

Now, as one of the key officials of the transitioning Bangsamoro Government, MP Salik works to help and serve the Bangsamoro communities by legislation with services at the grassroots level.

At present, the village is a recipient of one- classroom school building, one unit for the two elementary schools in the barangay; the Buliok Elementary School in Purok 3 and Dagadas ES in Sitio Dagadas, all in the same barangay, through the Transitional Development Impact Fund (TDIF) with the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) facilitating the construction.

A fish landing is also being built that is relevant for the fisherfolks towards a better facility.

Brgy. Buliok, situated in a low-lying area surrounded by rivers connected to Liguasan Marsh, is composed of five sitios. It is a home to over a thousand Maguindanaon households. Before BARMMe road to the village was rough and difficult. With the project of the Bangsamoro Government through the MPW, that provides one- kilometer road for every barangay in the region, Brgy. Buliok now enjoy better road for easier transport.

Grateful of the progress in the community, Brgy. Buliok shared worries about the effect of climate change in their lives. Accordingly, flood becomes often in their village and the schedule is uncertain. This has affected the farming and fishing activities, which are the main source of living to many.

“Years ago, it floods maybe once or twice a year. We have certain and abundant harvest from farm. Fresh water fish are plenty. But now, failure of crops is often and there is rare fish being caught”, Sarina told.

Before the BARMM, the villagers informed us of the development projects coming in to their barangay.  The covered court built through the project of the Provincial Local Government Unit of North Cotabato.

The infrastructure was constructed in year 2018 at the place that was massively destructed during the war in 2002.

A water system project was provided for the households in Buliok, implemented by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) with funds through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II (MTF-RDP/2), in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Looking back and looking forward, these women of Buliok pray for a long-lasting peace in Bangsamoro and for all.

“We pray that this peace and development continues as life gets better for everyone. We also hope that abundance in agriculture and fishery may flourish again because it is our life.”  

The youth and young professionals of Buliok

Shaira Salik,24, who is from barangay proudly said that among the villages in Pikit, Buliok is producing numerous Bangsamoro professionals who excel with their respective careers. Shaira is one presently working as Political Affairs IV under the office of BTA Member Salik.

Orphans Abjmylle Salik and Murnisa Bandan, 13, are also hopeful professionals from the barangay.

Abjmylle,11, wishes to become an engineer to help her family.  She has two heads of goats that she is raising from the cash assistance she received from BARMM. Murnisa was speechless during the interview as she suddenly missed her late father.

Maarrouff Salik, is a civil engineering student who has been helping us through the interview in May 3. His love for his home village is visible through his deep knowledge and understanding of the history, current situation, and the plans of the barangay.

For the women, widows, orphans and youth of Brgy. Buliok, life in the past may be dark, but with the Bangsamoro Government at present, life becomes peaceful and there is high hope and prayer for better tomorrow.

 

June 17, 2022. The Bangsamoro Region has rich resources potential for economic development. People are hardworking. However, significant factors are there challenging the wish to become economically stable and sustainable.

In belief of this capability on economic progress in the region from the grassroots level, series of community consultations were organized across the provinces of BARMM including camp communities and indigenous people (IP) communities.

Participants to the consultations were women and widows. During the activity, participants shared information about the available raw materials potential for enterprise development. The process allowed them to identify and decide about the local enterprise that the project might support to help supplement their regular family income.

The process employed was the community-based enterprise planning technique (CEPT).

This effort to develop social enterprise at the community level is part of the on-going implementation of the SUBATRA-ECSO (Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition), specifically for target output on helping improve the access to basic social services and social protection projects of vulnerable/marginalized groups in Bangsamoro.

Under the project, a social enterprise group is organized upon identification of their target produce for marketing. The project will provide them the necessary skills and training with the help of a third- party service provider. Tools and equipment needed for the enterprise development will also be afforded to the beneficiaries.

The plan is to help the people appreciate the available resources at the community level and utilize those materials, produce into saleable products from which they can have additional source of income to help their families.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is the implementing office of the project together with partners civil society organizations (CSOs) such as Raja Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc., Ittihadun Nisa Foundation, Inc. (INFO), MILF Social Welfare Committee (SWC), Taga Youth Concern Association (Basilan), KABALIKAT Civicom (Sulu) and League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO for Tawi-Tawi island).

BDA and partners believe that providing communities with the skills and equipment motivates them to become optimistic of better life. It teaches them of self- reliance, resourcefulness and unity.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SUBATRA-ECSO works for the Component 4 of the Justice and Society Project 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).

Tuesday, 14 June 2022 11:47

Ramadhan in Bangsamoro

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April 7, 2022. Ramadhan is the ninth month in Hijra Calendar. It is a holy month in Islam. Ramadan is a month of sharing. It is a month where rewards to good deeds are multiplied. During Ramadhan, Muslims (believers of Islam religion) around the world perform fasting. They only eat for suhoor (meal before sun rise) and break the fast at sunset. Fasting on Ramadhan is the fourth among the five pillars of Islam.

As regularly being preached, Ramadhan is not only about burning of fats and calories, moreover, it is a chance for the Muslims to burn their pride and sins. This blessed month encourages Muslims to multiple their good deeds, because it is said that the gates of heaven are open this time. Worldwide, common practice among various organizations is the distribution of food items to most needy communities, affected by poverty, crisis, natural calamities, war, others.

In Bangsamoro, Southern Philippines, known for its history of conflict and struggle, different humanitarian institutions come every year to deliver assistance to conflict- affected families in the region.

Food packs provided to selected families are significant to supplement the daily meals of the beneficiaries, who are usually relying to daily income for day-to-day living.

Saadia Alipolo, 64 a senior citizen in Brgy. Matuber, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao received 16 kilos of rice along with other food items this Ramadhan. Living with her family of four, with the four grandchildren, Saadia said that the items will be good enough for the family’s meal for at least seven days.

Bong Ansa, a farmer and fisherman has four kids and is happy receiving also food packs this Ramadhan. Like him, Nasir Bunter, an operator of pump-boat, with five children, did not mind the heavy rain just to get the relief goods for his family this holy month. They are from Brgy. Katidtuan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

A mother beneficiary in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was speechless when she was receiving the food pack. She could not even utter his name, because of overflowing emotion and repeatedly saying “shukran (thank you), we will have food for suhoor”. She does laundry and dishwashing, while her husband does fishing and sometimes construction works, to sustain the family.

Orphans in Bangsamoro are also receiving Ramadhan aid this blessed month. Some are chosen for free Iftar (breaking of fast) and others are getting gifts, usually prayer dress/ clothes.

Inspiring stories

In a neighborhood in Cotabato City, people voluntarily share any amount from which, the total cost will be used to buy food that they can eat together to break the fast before a congregational prayer upon sunset.

It is common among rural communities to share foods on Ramadhan. Neighbors usually share the food they have in belief that food shared are more blessed.

Non- fasting Muslims, usually women (due to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding or illness) can earn rewards while not fasting on Ramadhan. They can help prepare foods for Iftar, an act which is being blessed. Good deeds counted are not limited to preparation or cooking for meals, doing house chores during Ramadhan and after meals e.g., washing the dishes are also rewarded. "Every good deed is charity." (Sahih Muslim 1005). 

Al-Bukhaari (1425) narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If a woman gives from the food that is in her house, without causing any damage [i.e., without spending unreasonably], she will have a reward for what she gave, and her husband will have a reward for what he earned, and the storekeeper will have a similar reward, without the reward of any of them detracting from the reward of the others at all.

Religious activities

Informed by the phrase ‘Whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him, without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person’. [Tirmidhi]”, Muslims who can afford sponsor free meals for iftar (breaking of fast). Some organize symposium where a religious leader is invited to deliver teachings about Ramadhan and Islam. Individuals are encouraged to read the holy Qur’an during this month. Taraweh (an evening prayer during Ramadhan) is a not obligatory but Muslims are strongly encouraged to perform it. It is a confirmed Sunnah. Abu Hurayrah said:The Prophet used to urge the people to pray night prayers in Ramadan without him authoritatively ordering them to do so.” The Prophet said: “Whoever stands at night prayer in Ramadan while believing in Allah Who prescribed it and while seeking its reward from Him, will have his past sins forgiven. [Muslim]

Ramadhan Fair

In Bangsamoro Region, Ramadhan Fair is opened every year in relevance to this holy month. Food stalls along with other items that is relevant to Ramadhan are typically available at Ramadhan Fairs. Fairs are decorated with colorful lights that gives attraction to people visiting the place. People usually come after Taraweh to enjoy local attractions, meet with friends and or relatives and eat foods together, buy non- food items like prayer clothes, hijab (veil), others. Ramadhan Fair helps local entrepreneurs while promoting the spirit of this holy month by getting together during this time of the blessed month.

Dishes in Ramadhan

Ramadhan may not only be a fasting from foods, but let us be honest about loving and craving for special foods during this blessed month.

For this article, it is fair to say that it is not actually forbidden to buy luxurious foods on Ramadhan, especially that one can afford it. But as Muslims, we must always be reminded of humility and compassion to others, especially those who are less fortunate. One can have the best food, and it would be best of the best if it is shared to others.

On Ramadhan, local restaurants install food stands right outside their location for easy pick-up of buyers. This strategy is saleable to people who have limited time for cooking and preparation of foods.

Ramadhan and peacebuilding

Ramadhan brings a special message to mankind. As fasting is required for all Muslim, regardless of social status (with exemption for those in special conditions e.g., health), everyone will have the same feeling of hunger and thirst, hot, hardship and sacrifice, thus the rich realize the life of the poor who experience limited food on their table, and difficulties to survive life, most of the time.

During this holy month, non- Muslims become used to the culture and are respectful to friends, neighbors and colleagues who are fasting on Ramadhan. In Bangsamoro Region, office hours are usually modified in this month to give enough time for the Muslim employees to do preparations for Iftar and other relevant activities. Classes in regular schools (before the pandemic) were also modified to less the burden to Muslim students.

Ramadhan is also a month of forgiveness. This month is divided into three parts; the 1st ten days (rahmah/ mercy); 2nd ten days (maghfirah/ forgiveness) and; last ten days (nijat/ safety from hellfire).

On the 2nd ten days, Muslim seeks forgiveness from Allah (s.w.t). It is the period for repentance and rebuilding relations between those who were in conflict, thus promoting peace.

Every Ramadhan, it is a common prayer that everyone may feel and enliven the true spirit of this significant month, and the message of love, patience, hope and peace.

COTABATO CITY/ April 26, 2022.  Carrying the banner “certainly the believers are brothers”, various humanitarian foundations from Turkey send food packs for thousands of families in Bangsamoro this holy month of Ramadhan.

Turkey has been supportive of the peace process and has been sponsoring numerous development and humanitarian projects in the Bangsamoro communities.

This year, Turkiye Diyanet Vakfi (TDV) who sent representatives, distributed food packages to 1, 500 needy families in Cotabato City and in the municipalities of Sultan Kudarat, Datu Blah Sinsuat, and Parang all in Maguindanao province.

500 Moro orphans smiled upon receiving Ramadhan/ Eid Gifts from TDV that contained prayer dress/ clothe (with hijab/ veil for girls).

Sadaqatasi, whose sponsors led the distribution of food packages benefited 400 families outside BARMM, a group of women and widows in Maguindanao and boat operators in Cotabato City.  

Weltweiter Einsatz für Arme (WEFA), distributed 100 food packs this blessed month. The organization is also sponsoring free meals for iftar (breaking of fast) to selected orphanage centers in Cotabato City. WEFA also sponsored gifts for the orphans that made their Ramadhan more meaningful.

Representatives from Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) joined also during the delivery of 1, 400 number of food packages to needy families in Maguindanao. IHH also sponsored free iftar to selected orphanages in Bangsamoro.

In a short message, Turkish brothers said “let us all pray that there will be more ridzki (blessing), so that we can help more families in need”.

Beneficiaries’ stories

Each year, in the implementation of Ramadhan Program, we see and hear stories of our beneficiaries who are all grateful for the blessing they received this holy month.

Saadia Alipolo, 64 a senior citizen in Brgy. Matuber, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao received 16 kilos of rice along with other food items this Ramadhan. Living with her family of four, with the four grandchildren. Saadia said that the items will be good enough for the family’s meal for at least seven days.

Bong Ansa, a farmer and fisherman has four kids and is happy receiving also food packs this Ramadhan. Like him, Nasir Bunter, an operator of pump-boat, with five children, did not mind the heavy rain just to get the relief goods for his family this holy month. They are from Brgy. Katidtuan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

A mother beneficiary in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was speechless when she was receiving the food pack. She could not even utter his name, because of overflowing emotion and repeatedly saying “shukran (thank you), we will have food for suhoor”. She does laundry and dishwashing, while her husband does fishing and sometimes construction works, to sustain the family.

Since 2014, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), has been facilitating the implementation of Ramadhan Program within and outside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Through the program, BDA Inc. helps in sending the message of Ramadhan, which is about giving, sharing, and sacrifice. It helps send the message of love, hope and peace in the region, whose people are still recovering from armed conflict in the past, living with the current COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent natural calamity this month. Data from the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) states that more or less 70, 000 families in BARMM were displaced due to flood caused by Typhoon Agaton that hit the Philippines April 2022. (BDA Communication Team)

In BARMM, it is a reality that information about basic human rights is underprovided. During the series of focus group discussion conducted by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), people in BARMM shared stories and concerns related to human rights.

In Brgy. Nabalawag, Barira, Maguindanao, one participant reported that many of the people in their village do not know their human rights. They hope to be educated about their rights and that there will be awareness activity related to human rights per sector in the community.

In Jolo, Sulu, a representative from partner civil society organization (CSO) shared that human rights education is very important for them, because there is less information dissemination in their locality about HR.

With the current implementation of the project SUBATRA-ECSO (Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Intervention in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition), BDA is working for the advancement of human rights promotion and protection in Bangsamoro in partnership with the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC).

A writeshop for the development of module on human rights in Bangsamoro was conducted on May 25-27, 2022 in Cotabato City.

 

During the activity, participants shared their basic understanding and experiences on human rights. They worked together in writing the module guided by the inputs from Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC) and Bangsamoro Darul Ifta.

A resource person was contracted by the project to work for this writeshop and consolidate the inputs from the activity to be able to develop the module on human rights.

BDA organized the activity with support from BHRC, Bangsamoro Youth Commission, Bangsamoro Women Commission, Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs (MIPA), and the Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS).

Participation of various CSOs were also vital during the activity. They were Raja Mamalo Descendants for Southern Philippines, Inc., Ittihadun Nisa Foundation, Inc., Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc., League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO- Tawi- Tawi and Lanao office), Kabalikat CIVICOM from Sulu, and Taga Youth from Basilan.

After the activity, it is expected that the module will be finalized, approved and adopted by BARMM in advancing the promotion and protection of human rights towards a just governance for all in the region that shall contribute to peaceful and cohesive transition in Bangsamoro.

BDA as implementing agency of the project will be using this module to train the community human rights defenders who will be organized following the writeshop.

It was January 2022, when BDA and BHRC signed a memorandum of understanding for the common goal to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangsamoro communities.

BHRC is optimistic that this particular intervention of the project on human rights will be significant in improving the mechanisms and services related to HR in Bangsamoro.

“For instance, through the organizing of community human rights defenders, there will be community active participation on the prevention, promotion and protection of human rights. The government will have counterpart from the grassroots to watch and report for human rights situation at the community level”, BHRC told.

Advancing human rights promotion and protection in Bangsamoro is part of the SUBATRA-ECSO project’s target that is to improve the access to basic social services and social protection projects of vulnerable/marginalized groups in Bangasamoro.  

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).

(March 28, 2022). With the on-going transition in the Bangsamoro, how is change happening and being felt at the ground? How are the information and public service reaching the communities?

In the implementation of the SUBATRA-ECSO Project (Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition), the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is working on the gathering of data regarding the needs and real-life situations of vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro communities like women, widows, orphans, transitioning combatants, elderlies, PWDs and indigenous people. This effort also targets issues on human rights at the grassroots level.

BDA is working with the Ittihadun Nisa Foundation, Inc. (INFO) and the Social Welfare Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for this objective.

Initial data and information are already available from the recent data consolidation workshop conducted on March 19-20, 2022 in Cotabato City. The data were gathered from the focus- group discussion (FGD) organized in various communities of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces including two barangays in Special Geographical Areas of BARMM from February 24 to March 17, 2022.

Members of SWC who facilitated the FGDs underwent data gathering training on February 24- 25, 2022 before they went to those communities. The training also covered education on basic human rights discussed by the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC).

Partners from the Raja Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc. led the FGD with the indigenous people groups in Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, FGDs for the island of Tawi- Tawi and Sulu were already completed and for Basilan will be happening this week. Data consolidation will be conducted through an online activity.

BDA as implementing agency of the SUBATRA-ECSO will be validating the data gathered after the consolidation. This will be the basis to determine the assistance appropriate for the target groups of the project. The data will also be presented to BARMM ministries for possible complementation of aid to the communities in need in the region.

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).

March 20, 2022. Improved road access, the chance to meet together despite the distance and pandemic and more of these stories manifest the significant progress and transformation happening in the camp communities once marginalized from development.

During the recent gathering of community volunteers and the transitioning combatants from the different villages covered under the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) on March 14-15, 2022 at Cotabato City, shared their narratives and experiences in relation to the on-going transformation in the camps.

“Before, the road going to Brgy. Tamparan in Munai, Lanao del Norte (Camp Bilal) was difficult and risky. Now, we are happy that there is a better road to reach the village, far from its condition, years ago”, Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) Camp Bilal said.

Co-chairman of the JTFCT Camp Badre expressed that “Simple meeting like this activity is already significant for us. We are all comrades in this struggle, all worked as combatants but it was very rare that we meet because we are coming from different camps. But this project gathered us”.

This said gathering happened during the Project End Review and Reflection Session conducted in line with completion of the Camps of Learning Project (CLP)- a project that aims to promote inclusive peace through literacy in the Bangsamoro.

In the event, BDA together with partner and the participants reviewed the project implementation and drew lessons learned that shall be relevant to consider in the future. This was guided by the project development objectives, project steps, and was through a reflection session wherein the body identified what went well, and the areas that need be improved.

Took off in April 2021, CLP has touched the lives of many in the camps. The building of community learning centers equipped with complete facilities provided a permanent and convenient learning place for the learners who, before the project, have to run into any available facility in their village just to join the classes on Alternative Learning System (ALS).  

Attending and completing the ALS sessions helped promote peace with the beneficiaries feeling the empowerment and self- growth as they learn basic literacy such as writing their names by their own, counting numbers, reading and writing few basic words.

Learner from Camp Abubakar is confident that by the coming national and local election in the country, people can read their names from the voters’ list as they can now write to cast their votes.

From Camp Badre, the learner is grateful that even without a degree, the project brought them education and made them experienced studying and learning at school through the ALS.

As the project also carried skills training for the beneficiaries, people in Camp Bilal are thankful that aside from basic literacy, they also learned additional knowledge and skills that is helpful to augment their daily income.

For the people in Camp Rajamuda, the learning they acquired from the project will never be forgotten.

Camp Omar is likewise in gratitude for the project that served as bridge for the people to learn.

Learner in Camp Bushra is happy that the literacy sessions are completed.

CLP is formally closing this March 2022 leaving fully equipped learning centers across the six major camps of the MILF. The project hopes that the facility shall be used in the future in bringing literacy, empowerment and development in the lives of the people in the camps, long been deprived of such services due to the war in the past.

There were 480 learners who successfully completed the ALS and are now confident having the ability to read, write and count.

The implementation of ALS in camp communities was guided by the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed with the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE- BARMM) for areas under the Bangsamoro Region. Communities outside the region like Brgy. Inug-ug in Pikit is coordinated with the Department of Education- North Cotabato Division (Region XII) and Lanao del Norte Division (Region IX) for Brgy. Tamparan in Munai. 

Further, the project was in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

CLP is funded by Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

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).

March 23, 2022. Managing expectations, sustaining trust, confidence and peace to help improve public service delivery and communicate change in governance. Towards these goals, communication strategies shall be strengthened; to help improve access of information from top to bottom- then going back upward. This will be significant to ensure that the needs of the people are properly responded and for them also to do their part as citizens of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

From a mountainous village in Buldon, Maguindanao in Bangsamoro Region, a local leader reported that many of their people do not know human rights. “We do not know human rights; the vulnerable sectors do not know. We hope that the BARMM government will help us be educated about our rights; for every sector like women, youth, elderlies, PWDs, and all”, he stated.

From a village in Island province of BARMM, people long for assistance and access to information on how to avail government services.

In camp communities, the common question is “what now is the news from BARMM”?

These stories from the grassroots partly becomes one of the bases to get into a mission of “raising awareness about BARMM Projects and the people’s rights and obligations under the Bangsamoro Government, which is among the target outputs of the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition.

Towards the said target, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) collaborated with the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) and the Bangsamoro League of Information Officers (BLIO) to take off for this mission on developing communication strategies through the Inception Meeting for SUBATRA-ECSO conducted recently on March 16, 2022 in Cotabato City.

The meeting was a venue for the information officers of Bangsamoro to share experiences, best practices, needs and priorities relevant to communication roles during the current transition in Bangsamoro, and on public service delivery.

Participation of civil society organization through the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) was significant to educate the BARMM ministries, agencies and attached offices and the BDA as well, about their operation and communication practices in carrying out its mandate as one league.

BDA likewise shared communication plan for SUBATRA-ECSO highlighting the message of the peace process being the origin of all the present development in the Bangsamoro. 

From the activity, BDA, BARMM BIO and BLIO and the LBO were able to initially identify possible areas of complementation and collaboration for future activities. A communication planning workshop will be among the major next steps for the body to further set the direction to achieve together the said specific target output of the project.

It was clear that this collaboration between the BARMM Government and the CSOs (BDA and LBO) carries the same message of peace through inclusive and moral governance.

This Inception Meeting with BARMM- BIO/ BLIO was in line with the implementation of the SUBATRA-ECSO. The project works for the Component 4 of the SUBATRA Programme that helps the 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.

SUBATRA-ECSO aims to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro.

It is funded by the European Union (#EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (#AECID).

February 8, 2021. Moral Governance has become the call of the BARMM in carrying the responsibility of governing and serving the Bangsamoro, and towards the change that the Bangsamoro Government aspired for its people and territory.

“Moral governance means that the acts of the Bangsamoro Government must be legal and legitimate; its policy-making rational and deliberative; it is responsible to its people and ensures checks, balances and accountability to them. In other words, a government composed of public servants- in its real sense. Servants who are prepared to sacrifice their well-being for the well-being of the people whom they serve.” 

This was how moral governance was defined based on the Keynote Speech of BARMM Interim Chief Minister Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, delivered by Assistant Regional Cabinet Secretary Atty. Ayla Herazade E. Salendab, during the Kaakbay Kapayapaan: Civil Society Peace and Solidarity Assembly on 25 November 2019.

On the call for moral governance, one relevant strategy that was believed to be helpful is the values transformation training (popularly known as VTT). It is a flagship program of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) since inception as an organization. BDA is the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and a duly registered non-government organization since 2019. 

VTT is designed to inculcate values towards personality and spiritual development. The training has been a powerful instrument for the BDA to organize, mobilize, strengthen and sustain its pool of volunteers and people. It has been integrated to all other projects and programs of BDA propagating the message of peace through the teaching of Universal values and importance of faith.  

It was in May 2019 when BARMM, particularly the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) reached out to BDA to share topics on VTT during the Values Orientation Workshop (VOW) conducted by the Civil Service Commission-BARMM.

On October 2019, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG-BARMM) tapped BDA to facilitate VTT that was then integrated to the training course program intended for the future Municipal Local Government Operations Officer (MLGOO).

By December 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR-BARMM), contracted the BDA to facilitate VTT to its employees at the ministry.

Believing further to the relevance of VTT, the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESD, formerly TESDA in ARMM) under the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the BDA for the agency to manage the values training for the scholars of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) across BARMM.

That year, thousands of TVET scholars composed of youth, women and men, from different religion and faith learned and were enlightened about the importance of values towards personality development and spiritual appreciation/ practice.

VTT has then become popular in almost TESD- accredited trainings centers in all the five provinces of BARMM. This significant development continued until 2021. The same year when BARMM officially recognized the VTT to be instrumental in pursuit of moral governance through the Development Academy of the Bangsamoro (DAB), wherein series of meetings were happening between the latter and the BDA to agree on the modalities of implementing VTT in BARMM.

From this, various offices in BARMM through the DAB requested BDA to facilitate VTT for their respective employees. Participants all expressed words of appreciation and commitment to change after joining VTT.

VTT is also relevant to the group of decommissioned combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who are undergoing transition from decades of being involved in war into normal civilian life. Values training for these combatants is in partnership with the Non- violent Peaceforce, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP), and the Task Force for the Decommissioned Combatants (TFDCC).  

It is recorded that there were 357 (in 12 batches) of decommissioned combatants who underwent VTT in 2021.

A responsibility and honor for BDA

Managing the VTT, especially that it is inspired by the support to the moral governance is indeed a great responsibility and honor to BDA Inc. As an agency created out of the peace process, facilitating VTT is privilege for the BDA Inc. as it is committed to remain functional during the transition in the Bangsamoro.

Handling values training for the employees of BARMM means trust and confidence to the capacity of the BDA Inc. thus pushed the agency to firm up institutional policies, direction and support related to the management of VTT. For the BDA Inc., managing VTT is a fruit of over a decade of volunteerism, especially for the pool of trainers who have been developed to deliver the topics on values training, effectively, efficiently and faithfully.

It is an honor that BDA Inc. can share the best practice on VTT that has been a strong foundation of the agency to remain standing as organization operating in the context of conflict and now, with the development era in the Bangsamoro. The VTT that is in line with the guiding principle “change must begin with one’s self” (“Verily, Allaah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves [al-Ra’d 13:11])

 

 

 

 

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