She was third year in college when her father passed away. For the family, it was challenging because they were dependent to the head of the family for daily sustenance including education. The mother was a full-time housewife.
Julhaina Cadon, 46, said that when that happened, the family really struggled to move on. However, despite the challenges, she finished her education with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology in a university in Cotabato City.
“When I finished, alhamdulillah I was able to find a job immediately. I worked at the office of Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) particularly in cash division as cash assistant” Julhaina told.
She narrates that because of that job, she was able to provide for the education of her other siblings who all earned a professional degree from college. There were two engineers, one with BS Biology diploma and one with BS Business Administration.
With her experience of providing for the family, Julhaina developed further sense of responsibility, including on the matter of managing financial resources.
In 2002, Julhaina joined the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“I was informed by some friends about the call for Bangsamoro professionals to volunteer in helping the Bangsamoro people who are in need, through the BDA”, she said.
Julhaina was among those who responded to that call because she saw it as one way to contribute to the Bangsamoro jihad (struggle).
Back then, she was already aware of the struggle in her homeland since the family supports the noble fight. Her uncles and cousins were members of the MILF. So, it was not hard for her to understand that working at BDA that time, provides no definite salary or none at all.
At the agency, Julhaina was tasked a job related to finance since her previous work was the same. She worked as cash assistant, which she was already skilled in. That time, BDA was engaged in different small partnership where she was in-charge of the “in and out” of funds on activity based. She was also in charge of submitting the financial report of the office.
In the beginning, it was still hard for her even if she already has an experience on finance- related tasks.
As a graduate of psychology, she can only rely on her previous job as reference. However, Julhaina understood that working at BDA as part of Bangsamoro struggle alludes that: “there is NO as an answer to an order, we can only obey”.
Julhaina was with the finance section of BDA for twelve years until she was designated as Operation’s Officer for one year for the Tahderriyah Project with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a Project Coordinator for three years of the Program for Local Economic Development Through Enlightened Governance and Grassroots Empowerment (PLEDGE), with the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Commitment over self- interest
It was in 2017 when she was appointed back to the Finance Division of the BDA.
She said that it was a long story why there were changes of position for her at the agency.
She conveys that letting go of responsibilities may be hard and sacrificing your own interest is unavoidable, but as a volunteer, she is already committed and dedicated to the Bangsamoro cause.
Back at finance works, Julhaina leads the management of the financial resources of the BDA. It is noted that the agency continues to institutionalize its operation as an organization wherein finance matters are vital.
“Finance is very important in any organization not just in BDA because it is the backbone of the organization. Financial resources are there in order to operate and serve as the fuel of the human resources. No matter how many human resources or good the plan is, if the organization doesn’t have financial resources to sustain it, it would not be realized” Julhaina stated.
She agrees that it is very important in every organization especially on how it will be managed properly to sustain the operation. (She expresses that the importance of finance in an organization is contingent to its proper management that contributes to the sustainability of operations.) In the case of the BDA, an organization that started with very limited resources and still dependent on projects funds, financial management is indeed crucial.
However, Julhaina is confident that BDA, with its years of operation, the agency is already capable of handling financial resources. (However, Julhaina is confident that with its years of operations, BDA is already more than capable of handling financial resources)
“Currently, the financial system of BDA is already practiced. Our policies and guidelines are in placed. We already have our administrative and financial manuals, also operational manuals that serves as guidance on how we move forward when it comes to financial operation of BDA” she told.
Julhaina added that despite of this, the manual can still be enhanced depending on pertinency, must be aligned to the current trends, moreover to the context of the Bangsamoro.
She shares experience on the journey of the BDA to systematize its financial management along with the institutionalization of the agency in general.
“It was not easy, because we know for a fact that in Bangsamoro, there is really a different context,” Julhaina said.
BDA receives project from different donors and each of them requires variety of financial policies that the agency has to adhere (in addition to its own policies)
“So, we have to deal with that and we have to carefully cascade that information to our staff at BDA, because imposing a policy was not that easy. Some would refuse to believe and obey, but we have to work more considering local context”, she told.
Julhaina believes that at BDA and in the Bangsamoro, in general, financial management is not only about complying to the policies and guidelines.
“It is as if working for the global standards while considering the local context”, she said.
Why centavo matters for accountability?
For Julhaina, working for finance is equivalent to accountability. Hence, her team at finance division continuously work together to ensure that every centavo in a whole project cost for instance, is well-accounted.
“In a project, there is work and financial planning, where each activity is provided with specific budget to deliver the expected outputs of the project. We do accounting to see if each cent is spent according to its purpose”, she said.
In doing this, Julhaina and her team has been used to confrontations from other staff in the office whenever they impose policies and look for unrecorded amount.
However, such situation is usually settled easily with proper communication and information, and by the cooperation of other people in the organization.
“It is quite difficult but it is our responsibility, because we are entrusted. And for the case of BDA, as development arm of the MILF, whatever our performance is will always have impact to the capacity and image of the Bangsamoro”,
She added that “we always carry the name of the MILF, and attached to that is the peace process that the whole Bangsamoro has been in, so we are always reminded of that”.
BDA was established in 2002 in accordance with the humanitarian, rehabilitation and development aspects of the GPH-MILF Tripoli Agreement of 2001. The agency was primarily mandated to lead, manage and determine relief and rehabilitation in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. Further, BDA was created to help build capacity of the Bangsamoro for future governance role.
Julhaina believes that BDA shall strive more on financial management as it is a vital part of project and organizational management, and hopefully to contribute to the governance function of the Bangsamoro.
“We were trained on this field for past 19 years, dealing with different policies imposed by various donor and we are pleased that for that years of service, BDA’s performance on financial management remains acceptable to international partners”, she told.
She ended that “Every centavo counts because it is part of the resources intended to help address the needs of the people- and that’s when peace starts. Also, when each cent is spent according to its purpose, there will be no mistrust, no corruption. Centavo contributes to peace because it speaks of the trust, that is very important to build and sustain harmony and understanding between people and partners.”
October 22, 2021. Ministries and offices of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) pledged support to the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) for the implementation of the Project- Enhancing CSO Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA-ECSO).
Ministries of Health (MOH), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Indigenous People’s Affairs (MIPA) and, the Interior and Local Government (MILG) and the offices of Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) and Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) expressed their support during the courtesy meetings organized by the BDA Inc. from October 18-22, 2021 within BARMM Compound in Cotabato City.
This undertaking is part of the initial steps for the implementation of the Project- Enhancing CSO Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA-ECSO). The project, aimed to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro is funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
COTABATO CITY. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) launched the Support to Bangsamoro Transition Justice and Society: Enhancing CSO Capacities for Inclusive Development in BARMM o SUBATRA Justice and Society ECSO Project on September 30, 2021 via zoom.
Together with the European Union (EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the project aims to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro.
In a message, Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, expressed delight to the event and recognized the important role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in advancing the peace process and in achieving peace and development in Bangsamoro Region.
His Excellency Jorge Moragas, Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines highlighted the significance of international cooperation complementing national efforts on peace building.
Mr. Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines believed partners in peace and development should not look in the side approach or one project or another but need to see what can be done together, how to partner from all different levels in the government of Bangsamoro with the local government units, with civil society, with business sector, with development partner and the national government.
The SUBATRA-ECSO project will work with the BARMM ministries and offices who also graced the event:
- Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism
- Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs
- Bangsamoro Women Commission
- Office of the Chief Minister - TMS
Other ministries and offices will be coordinated like the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS), Development Academy of the Bangsamoro (DAB) and the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO).
BDA Inc. will lead various CSOs in the Bangsamoro based on their experience and field of expertise related to peacebuilding for the project implementation. These CSOs will help in implementing projects that shall respond to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the region:
BDA Inc. believes that the SUBATRA-ECSO Project will. be helpful in sending the message of peace in BARMM and of the history and gains of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
(COTABATO CITY). For families living in the uphill of Brgy. Datalpandan, Guidulungan, Maguindanao, life would be better if development assistance reaches them.
In a community dialogue on October 19, 2021, during the World Bank visit in the village, one member of indigenous people particularly told their will to get vaccinated of the COVID-19 but expressed hope for the health ministry of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to come in their barangay so that the people will no longer need to travel from a far to get a vaccine.
As response, the Rural Health Unit (RHU) in the barangay explained that the road is difficult to reach the village uphill and the vaccine requires a specific storage, which is not ideal for long rough travel.
Dr. Bashary Latiph, Minister of the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the BARMM together with development partners have been working hard making sure that every Bangsamoro will be able to have easy and accessible facility that will cater for their health needs.
“We want to widen our reach, to render a more intensive service. We want to make sure that no one is left behind. In sha Allah, with our development partners, we are here for all of you, to provide for your needs. I would like to thank the World Bank for the never ending support to the Bangsamoro and to the indigenous people. Thank you to everyone who have been working non-stop, realizing the dreams of everyone: a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro” Dr. Latiph stated.
Felino V. Samar, representative from the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs (MIPA) thanks the BARMM Government and development partners for including the IP communities towards development.
“Like the case of Datalpandan, 95% are Moro and 5% are IP. But in giving the project, the IP group is counted. So, we are really thankful”, MIPA official told.
Meanwhile, women group is hoping for a livelihood assistance e.g. dressmaking, to supplement their daily income in sustaining their families.
Farmer group is wishing for a road project, especially a bridge that shall ease the burden of crossing the river in their village.
Hon. Ali O. Salik, member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) expressed thanks for the WB visit that he described as an indicator of progress and development in the camp.
Salik is also the camp coordinator of the six major camps of the MILF and hopes that this visit will bring fruitful conversation with the beneficiaries in Camp Bad’r.
“We are confident that World Bank will continue to provide support through future project here in BARMM, in general. We really appreciate your commitment and dedication for development initiative. I hope that economic analysis before and after the project will push significant posture and positive changes to the people of camp Bad’r”, MP Salik stated.
Datalpandan is a home to mixed population of Muslim and indigenous people. Major source of living is farming.
The community has been a recipient of road project, post-harvest facility, water system, solar panel and a community learning center for the delivery of Alternative Learning System (ALS).
This has been through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II and III and the recent Camps of Learning Project (CLP)- wherein the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) functioned as project implementing agency.
In a message from the World Bank during the recent visit on October 19, Ndiame Diop country director to Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, East Asia and Pacific stated the World Bank as an active supporter of Mindanao’s peace and development agenda, more importantly with the MILF and GPH peace process.
“As a testament to this, for more than a decade now, through the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) and the MTF Reconstruction and Development Projects Phases 1, 2 and 3, together with our donors, we have supported projects geared toward socio-economic development”, Diop said.
The country director re-affirmed the Bank’s commitment to helping in achieving the peace and development aspirations of the Bangsamoro.
“Through this visit, we hope to listen to the stories of your MTF RDP journey, learn from your experience and take on your recommendations on how to best support your communities and BARMM going forward”, he stated.
Brgy. Datalpandan is a community within BARMM and is also part of the territory of Camp Badre- one major camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as named in the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in 2014.
Assistance to camp communities has been one of priorities in support to the implementation of the CAB. It aims to help in the socio-economic development of conflict-affected communities and eventually transition from war to productive and peaceful village.
(August 18, 2021). Aisa Makiwpa, 48, is a mother to seven children. The family rely on farming for living at Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao- a village covered by Camp Badre, one of the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) informed by the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Aisa only reaches elementary education. Aware of her limited knowledge and literacy, she did not hesitate to avail the Alternative Learning System (ALS), an education program designed to cater the educational needs of those who were not able to access complete education due to protracted conflict in past.
“Because I only finished elementary, through ALS I had the opportunity to learn again,” Aisa said.
“The classroom being built that will serve as our school while we study ALS will also serve as a home for our children to learn. It will also be their classroom when we graduate” Aisa added.
She also mentioned that they have been in Brgy. Datalpandan for many years and its only in the recent years that they feel the so-called development.
With the on-going construction of the community learning in the barangay, Aisa like the other women at the village is excited to have more convenient educational facility. The construction is one of the components of the Camps of Learning Project (CLP)- aims to promote and support inclusive peace and development through programs on basic literacy with the implementation of #ALS in close coordination with the Department of Education or the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (#MBHTE in #BARMM) targeting vulnerable sectors in the #MILF camps communities (as informed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro #CAB: Camp Abubakar, Camp Badre, Camp Bilal, Camp Bushra, Camp Omar and Camp Rajamuda) like women, out-of-school youth, indigenous people, elderlies, person with disabilities, others.
(AUGUST 18, 2021). Just before the all-out-war in 2000, Teng Kalidtuag, 44, of Brgy. Buldon, Barira Maguindanao already joined the armed forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
He is one of the decommissioned combatants of the MILF chosen to undergo support such as capability building towards the overall goal of transformation from conflict to productive and progressive community, as informed by the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
As a father to four children, Teng believes that moving forward from the past will be helpful for his family. He is glad to be part of the decommissioned combatants. Various assistance like livelihood support await for these combatants in line with the intention to assist them transition into civilian lives.
Teng was one of the 30 participants for the first batch of Values Transformation Training (VTT), which is among the capacity building support included in the socio-economic packages for the former combatants.
The training was on June 29 to July 1, 2021 at Molina Munoz Riverpool Resort in Parang, Maguindanao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
VTT teaches the significance of values and faith for personality development, self- change and understanding one’s behavior.
"The content of this training is not a joke, at my age I do not think that my knowledge can be further expanded and develop through values transformation training," Teng said.
He was very thankful because despite the challenges they experienced he is proud to say that he was one of those who did Jihad and fought for Bangsamoro cause.
During the training, his son informed him about the death of his mother-in-law, but in the desire to learn and finish the VTT, he did not go home.
"We will all go there (hereafter) too. Instead of going home I stayed, I just want to continue and I still want to know things about values and faith. While we are still alive, study and expand our knowledge," he added.
Through VTT, the majority of the participants were able to know their fellows better, and so far, have become closer and have bonded. All of them have only one desire and that is to learn and expand knowledge to strengthen their faith.
Another participant was Saidali Akmad who stated that “having faith-based practices will help the application of the so-called moral governance".
Saidali and Teng were among the 450 decommissioned combatants who joined the VTT.
VTT comes with the concept of moral governance, being adopted by the current Bangsamoro Government in propagating change in the region.
At present, there are already four batches of VTT organized for the decommissioned combatants. The training is jointly organized by the Nonviolent Peace Force and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as facilitator of the training.
(July 23, 2021/ COTABATO CITY). “When you give us beef, we can cook food that we rarely consume in a year, it helps with our meal for the day”, Rahma Talusob, 40, said upon receiving a meat pack on Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).
Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) is one of the prestigious holidays in Islam. The festival is celebrated in honor of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim at the cost of his son’s life in the name of obedience and faith to the commandment of Allah (s.w.t).
Qurban meat is produced out of the animals (goat, sheep or cow) slaughtered during this occasion.
In observance of this significant celebration in Islam, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) has been implementing the Qurban Program since 2014 with the support of donor partners from Turkey.
For the year 2021, hundreds of cattle are slaughtered sponsored by various organizations in Turkey such as Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Turkiye Dyanet Vakfi, WEFA, Ravza and Sadaqatasi, with the BDA Inc. as local partner who facilitated the implementation of the Qurban Program.
Rahma, further told that “We are poor so there is no special dining during this day because we cannot afford. Now that you gave us this meat pack, I can prepare food that we rarely have on our family table”.
She is from Brgy. Central Labas, Midsayap, North Cotabato with two children and whose husband works as a farmer.
Beef contains several essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, pantothenate, magnesium, and potassium, all good for one’s health.
An elderly widow from Brgy. Tariken, Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao is also thankful for receiving Qurban meat saying that is helpful to suffice her meal for the day, mostly that she lives by herself alone.
Another mother beneficiary was emotional when asked about their daily meal in the family, implying a poor situation of food security in the community.
In Bangsamoro Region, it is a fact that food security remains a challenge, especially during the times of pandemic. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has crafted its roadmap food security in nutrition in the Bangsamoro as one concrete action in addressing this significant concern in the region.
BDA Inc. with its years of managing the Qurban Program shared significant notes stating that “Through the years of implementing Qurban Program, the agency is witnessed as to how meat packs help supplement a meal for the day of the family- recipients, who are mostly poor and do not have enough resources to prepare something special during this annual Muslim celebration”, Engr. Windel Diangcalan, BDA executive director stated.
Further, distribution of Qurban meat become relevant in sending the true message of Eid’l Adha, wherein communities appreciate being reach out by the program despite the distance saying “by coming to us for this meat, we feel more of the spirit of Eid’l Adha, we feel important”.
(July 23, 2021). Each year, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), a religious practice that reminds the Islam believers of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim in obedience and faith to the will of Allah subhanahuwataalah.
Animals like sheep or goat and cow are sacrificed in honor of this significant religious act. The meat from the animals are distributed to the poor families and communities. This good deed is encouraged among Muslims to foster empathy and mercy to people in need.
This year in Bangsamoro, hundreds of cattle are slaughtered sponsored by various organizations in Turkey such as Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Turkiye Dyanet Vakfi, WEFA and Sadaqatasi, with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as local partner who facilitated the implementation of the Qurban Program.
Meat packs are distributed in different communities within and outside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
In Brgy. Tariken, Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao, Member of the Parliament Ali O. Salik graced the Qurban meat distribution and expressed gratitude and prayer on this special occasion.
Hon. Salik thanked the Turkey Government for the love and support to Bangsamoro, by sponsoring Qurban Program in the region annually.
“Our well wishes for our brothers and sisters in Turkey. We also pray that the spirit of Eid’l Adha, may further strengthen our faith as we journey with our own Bangsamoro Government”, MP Salik told.
BDA Inc. with its years of managing the Qurban Program shared significant notes stating that “Through the years of implementing Qurban Program, BDA Inc. is witnessed as to how meat packs help supplement a meal for the day of the family- recipients, who are mostly poor and do not have enough resources to prepare something special during this annual Muslim celebration”, Engr. Windel Diangcalan, BDA executive director stated.
Further, distribution of Qurban meat become relevant in sending the true message of Eid’l Adha, wherein communities appreciate being reach out by the program despite the distance saying “by coming to us for this meat, we feel more of the spirit of Eid’l Adha, we feel important”.
Beneficiaries expressed thanks for the meat received on this significant Feast in Islam and how the meat provided helped families enjoy this day.
Rahma Talusob, 40, of Brgy. Central Labas, Midsayap, North Cotabato with two children and whose husband is a farmer is grateful for the meat obtained saying that she can cook something special for her family on Eid’l Adha.
“We are poor so there is no special dining during this day because we cannot afford. Now that you gave us this meat pack, I can prepare food that we rarely have on our family table”, Rahma stated.
There were thousands of meat packs that benefited thousands of families across the municipalities of Midsayap, Pigcawayan, Pikit and Aleosan in North Cotabato; Sultan Mastura, Sultan Kudarat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Upi, Parang, Mangudadatu and Mother Kabuntalan in Maguindanao;
Distribution period was from July 20 to 23, 2021 facilitated by BDA Quick Response Team, with volunteers and development catalysts, MILF Political Committee, Social Welfare Committee, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), coordination with local government units and other key stakeholders at the community level.
Delivering education during COVID-19 is a challenge for every educator. From face-to-face teaching, the mode of learning shifted to modular and online classes.
The teachers in Sakeenah Al-Islamiyah Institute, a Madrasah (School) offering Tahderiyyah (Kindergarten) in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) chose to stay positive about the current situation as they perform their duties as educators.
Samsia Nasrudin, 26, is a kindergarten teacher for four years in Sakeenah Al-Islamiyah Institute. For her, teaching during a pandemic is very different from the regular mode of teaching. Yet, she finds ways to fulfil the right of children to an education.
“First, we have blended mode of teaching - one is modular, and another is through online. There are topics that are difficult for the children to understand. As an alternative, we provide audio recorded materials and send these to the parents e.g. for Du’a (supplication) for Islamic Studies and Arabic Language (ISAL) subject,” Teacher Samsia said.
To deliver education in the new normal, the school initiated tutoring for children with the support and permission of the Municipal Local Government Unit of Sultan Kudarat.
“We started tutoring three months ago for those lectures that were hard to understand by the pupils. Still guided by the health protocols, we teach five children per session, once a week,” Teacher Samsia shared.
Her fellow teacher, Hannan Guimba, 23, is teaching the curriculum for 4-5 years old in the same school for three years. She shared that teaching is also a learning for her, as she develops love in handling younger children.
“I wanted to teach higher grades, but I realized that I am enjoying teaching younger children. Teaching Tahderiyyah is also a chance to refresh my knowledge, especially on Islamic related topics”, Teacher Hannan stated.
Teacher Samsia and Teacher Hannan are both participants to the Tahderiyyah Training supported by BDA and UNICEF in December 2020, where they acquired new knowledge that enhanced their capacity in teaching early learning.
“We learned about the modalities for the Tahderiyyah Curriculum, given the new normal. It was helpful and we adapt it to our class schedules. We also learned about new modules to add to our instructional materials”, the teachers said.
From the training, Teacher Samsia became one of the trainers.
Sakeenah Al-Islamiyah Institute, formerly a Traditional Madrasah, evolved into an Integrated School, acquired the Permit to Operate from the Department of Education in 2015 and now with the Ministry of Basic Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE). From implementing Tahderiyyah curriculum for the 3-4 and 5-years old children, the school is now catering up to Grade IV pupils.
The school reported an increase in the number of students enrolled at this time of pandemic (from over 120 last school year to over 140 at present), since there is difficulty for some parents who were previously sending their children to the City, due to restrictions in transportation.
Sakeenah Al-Islamiyah Institute has been a recipient of the Tahderiyyah Project in the past years along with other Tahderiyyah Schools within and outside BARMM, and recently for the institutionalization and expansion of the project with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as local implementing partner together with the Ittihadul Madaris Bil Philippines, Inc. (IMBPI) and support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of Japan (GoJ).
(March 30, 2021). M’ranao families in Sitio Kura-Kura, Brgy. Tamparan, Lanao del Norte- Camp Bilal is hopeful and happy to welcome the month of Ramadhan (a month of fasting in Islam) now that their village will be brighter as the solar street lights are installed and officially turned over on March 24, 2021 along the newly constructed access road in the community. Ramadhan this year is expected to start on 2nd week of April.
The project is funded through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase III (MTF-RDP/3), in support to the Confidence Building Initiatives for the Camps Transformation stated in Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
“There were few people residing here, before because of the isolation and difficult access. Now we see development and people are coming to build their homes in Sitio Kura-Kura”, Ibrahim
Camp Project Support Team (CPST) of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) reported that the place is identified by Task Force on Camps Transformation (TFCT) as center of development of Camp Bilal, one of the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) acknowledged in the CAB of 2014 for transformation from conflict to productive communities.
The community has been receiving development projects such as agri-facility building, farmer’s training center, road projects, health facility along with various interventions that promotes community empowerment and enlightenment. (R.Adam)
March 30, 2021. According to Normina Atoy, a farmer in Brgy. Kinebeka, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (CAMP BADRE), the training is a great help for them farmers to improve their agriculture practices.
“Farming is our source of income; we have been doing it all our life, and only now that we learned that useful information to make our farming more convenient and competitive” Normina said.
She added that farming has been expensive for them since they have to buy pesticides and fertilizers. Through the training, they knew local alternatives that can be produced to supplement the nutrition of farm crops and can help prevent pests from destroying their plants.
“If only we knew this in the past, life would be easier. Now we are motivated and determined to apply all that we learned”, Normina told.
She said that farming gives fair income to the family. Capital usually reaches to Php 20, 000.00 for one hectare of land and the gains after the harvest is more or less Php 40, 000.00
With rich agricultural land, farming is one primary source of income in the province of Maguindanao.
The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) provided the training inputs and lectures to hundreds of farmers and other sectors during the series of productivity trainings conducted like rice and corn production, vegetable farming, peanut processing, native chicken, others.
The Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) through accredited partners organizations facilitated training on banana processing, food processing, others.
Meanwhile, trainings on coconut oil and virgin coconut oil processing was facilitated by Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), while indigenous people group from Koronadal City taught elderly sectors on crafting and weaving of native products.
Productivity training is one sub-component of the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase III (MTF-RDP/3), implemented in support to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It covers the six previously acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 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.
Partnership with BARMM ministries and offices is also one component of MTF-RDP/3 through mainstreaming activities that aims to promote collaborative approach for better services to Bangsamoro communities. BARMM ministries engaged in the mainstreaming are Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, Ministry of Interior and Local Government, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Ministry of Public Order and Safety, Ministry of Social Services and Development, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy and Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority.
Recently, the project organized a joint field mission with BARMM ministries to camp communities where community interaction and project site visit were undertaken.
Under the MTF-RDP/3, various socio-economic infrastructure (SEI) projects are underway both community sub-projects and health sub-projects, designed to help improve the access of community beneficiaries to basic socio-economic services.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is taking the role as project implementing unit (PIU) for MTF-RDP/3. BDA was established in 2002 out of the GPH-MILF Tripoli Agreement of 2001; and was officially registered as non-government organization in 2019 after the Bangsamoro Government was established. MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag in a virtual meeting in July 2020 with the World Bank underscored that the MILF remains committed to support development projects through the BDA Inc.
SOUTH UPI, MAGUINDANAO / 22 March 2021. It’s two o’clock in the morning. The weather is cold and it is dark. But, like many of the families in Brgy. Looy in South Upi, Maguindanao. Flora Lamigan, 31 has to get up to join the queue of those who like her, need to fetch water from the deep well located in the hidden and lower part of the village.
In the Philippines, the dry season is approaching, and the whole community is anticipating the same scenario. In the country, summer season starts by March until May.
According to Flora, the deep well is the only source of water available in the village when it is dry season.
“During this period, spring and other sources of water in our barangay run dry. This deep well is the only one left, since it is located in lowland of our mountainous community”, Flora said.
South Upi is known to be a summer capital of Maguindanao province. It is found in the mountains of the province and it gives cool breeze, just enough for the hot weather from City and other lowland communities. Farm lands are rich giving plenty of agricultural products, the main source of income for many in the whole town.
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(COTABATO CITY/ March 19, 2021). Peace advocates from all walks of life joined the call for the extension of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to 2025. BTA is the body created responsible for the executive and legislative functions to build the foundation of Bangsamoro Government, established after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in 2018.
In a report, the recent peace caravan on March 18, 2021 organized by the Civil Society Movement for Moral Governance (CSO-MMG) led thousands of four-wheeled vehicles and hundreds of single motor cycles, plus the significant numbers of supporters along the parade route.
Said caravan kicked off in Cotabato City and journeyed through the municipalities of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Guindulungan, Shariff Aguak, Esperanza, Isulan, Tacurong City, Buluan, Datu Paglas, M'lang, Matalam, Pagalungan, Kabacan, Datu Montawal, Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap, Pigcawayan, and back to Cotabato City.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) participated to this peace caravan. As development agency established out of the peace process between (GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of 2001), it is one responsibility of the BDA Inc. to support related undertakings that are all geared towards a long-lasting peace for all.
(March 15, 2021). In this era of development in the Bangsamoro, women rise and recall stories of sacrifices in times of war.
Ustadza Halima Hashim of Brgy. Inug- ug, Pikit, North Cotabato in a speech during a turnover ceremony of water system project, recalled that in times of battle “we could not meet and convene like this; we get water from marsh for daily use”.
She spoke about gratitude and dedication.
“We have to be grateful for all this development happening at present. We remember those who sacrificed, those who shed blood. They are not with us anymore, today”, the respected-woman told.
She added “now that we see this development, we have to work together and harder”.
Ustadza Halima is a sister of the late MILF founding chairman Salamat Hashim. She possesses a leadership charm, being the chair of MILF Social Welfare Committee (SWC) Liguasan Province. As a woman-leader in the woman-wing of the MILF, she has the respect, trust and support of fellow women members, other stakeholders and of the whole community.
(BRGY. NABALAWAG, BARIRA, MAGUINDANAO-CAMP ABUBAKAR). Hasana Balitok of Brgy. Nabalawag, Barira, Maguindanao- Camp Abubakar can still remember the past where she witnessed and experienced life in war and evacuation.
“Young I was, I saw the struggle of our people, our community during the time of war”, she said.
In teary eyes, she cannot help but share joy seeing the development coming in to their village.
“I’m really happy that at present, community needs are being responded like this road project”, Hasana stated.
She shared that Brgy. Nabalawag, was really a remote area. People would struggle to get living, away from civilization. There were no roads and bridges so the community would really endure the long walks and hard ways in order to access basic needs from nearest market.
“It was really difficult e.g., for sick people, because it takes really hard times to get to the adjacent health facility, and there was no means of transportation, only horses or by people carrying the sick with a blanket. Once, an animal died by crossing the river to transport local crops”, Hasana told.
Hasana is the vice president of Nabalawag Peace and Development Organization, a people’s organization mobilized through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP Phase II and III)- implemented in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Brgy. Nabalawag received road project from MTF-RDP that helped improved the access of the community to basic services such as health, education and livelihood.
For Hasana, it significant to involve women in development activities.
“In our case with our organization, I as vice president support our leader, who have less educational background. We do not think that way, instead, we help him in order for our organization to grow- because in unity we will progress together as one community”, Hasana added.
She said that NPDO is looking forward to establish own office to be able to function better as organization, working for the development of the whole community, which past is defined by war and isolation but with future inspired by common aspiration to become progressive.
(BRGY. SANDAB BUTIG, LANAO DEL SUR- CAMP BUSHRA). Naira Bimbad, 54, from Brgy. Sandab Butig, Lanao del Sur (CAMP BUSHRA) lost their three children during the time of all-out-war in 2000. It was in heavy heart that they (with her husband) went home after the war, without their kids. Naira and husband moved on and now have five children. Naira sees better future for her family, with the recent peace and development in the region.
She was among the farmer- participants to the recent training on peanut processing, as one sub-component of the MTF-RDP/3.
Naira is thankful of the training and is now confident to improve their farming methods and become more productive for her family.
(BRGY. KINEBEKA, DATU ODIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO- CAMP BADRE). Cely Abdul, 60 of Brgy. Kinebeka, DOS, Maguindanao never taught that development would come to them in the mountains.
“We live in this remote area, almost difficult to reach. It was difficult for us women to go to the market. Public transport only comes once a week, so there was really a struggle to get basic commodities for living”, she recalled.
Cely is thankful for the development coming to their community and is now leading the other women in the village to become participative in development activities.
“I told them (women) to go out, learn time management and become productive. Find other means to help earn income, to have improvement for their families”, she said.
Cely is a Teduray, married to Muslim and is looking forward to strengthen and sustain their organization in Brgy. Kinebeka, especially now that the construction of agri-facility building is soon to be completed where women sector will have
(BRGY. SANIAG, AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO- CAMP OMAR). Janet Saligan, 54, a Teduray in Brgy. Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao recalls that during armed conflict in the past years, they would spend nights by the mountains to watch over the process of charcoal making, where they earn income for their family of eight.
“It was difficult. I told my husband to better stay at night to ensure that we can produce charcoal because, sometimes, if something went wrong during the process then our hard work will be wasted. Charcoal making is our alternative source of income when farming failed due to pests attack”, Janet told.
She added that “it was really hard during those times, we have to climb the mountains, there was no good road like now, then peace and order was not stable. There was fear in us but we have to live so we went on”.
Janet joins the group of elderly sectors in learning to produce native products made of local fern abundant in their mountainous village. She intends to share the skills acquired from the training to help her community become productive.
(BRGY. TAMPARAN, MUNAI, LANAO DEL NORTE- CAMP BILAL). Parents in the barangay especially the mothers are happy about the farmers’ training center constructed in December 2020.
“We wanted to join community activities. But we cannot leave our children at home unsupervised by adults. This center is helpful because we have this formal venue for community gatherings where we can get involved while there is a space for our children within the building, so it is convenient for us”, mothers told.
The role of women in peace and development is irrefutable. The stories of Halima, Hasana, Naira, Cely and Janet speak of the vital part of the women in advancing the welfare of their communities. The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) recognizes this reality in relevance to inclusiveness as one value the agency upholds. In 2020, thirty percent of BDA’s staff were women. Same percentage is also true for one project in Upi, Maguindanao, where women were employed for the implementation of water system project responding to the needs of the community. Fifty percent of the total beneficiaries for the camps project are women.
In the Philippines, March 8, is declared as National Women’s Month (RA6949). Various laws related to women rights and protection includes Anti- Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, Anti-Rape Law of 1997, Anti-Trafficking in Person of 2003, Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) in 2004, among others.