BARMM, UNDP pours in livelihood assistance to NoCot village

PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato – The widow of a late Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighter never thought the government would reach out to her and her community in the middle of the marshland after years of the resolved armed struggle.

She did not join past MILF struggles but her husband did and he perished during one of the skirmishes in the Liguasan Marsh.

Frail but her memory still sharp, 70-year-old Samaya Kintua, resident of Barangay Lower Baguer here, was visited by leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) visited her community on Monday.

Kintua expressed gratitude to the BARMM and UNDP representatives for giving her and co-villagers livelihood assistance and recognition for their contribution to the now peaceful area.

It was in 2014 when the MILF signed a peace pact with the government, agreeing to give up its weapons in exchange for greater political autonomy, mostly in southern Mindanao.

“I and my neighbors here appreciate the relief assistance provided by our leaders to communities in far-flung areas. We wish them good health and longer life,” an emotional Kintua said in the vernacular.

Ibrahim Kagi, son of another late combatant, said his father repeatedly assured him the MILF will continue to struggle until peace is achieved.

His father also perished in clashes in Maguindanao.

“With BARMM now, I can say that the struggle participated in by my father paid off. Hopefully, the region’s moral governance will succeed,” said Kagi, who is now tilling a vast tract of farmland in Datu Binasing village here.

Kintua and Kagi were beneficiaries of community infrastructures and livelihood projects under the Bangsamoro Integrated Rehabilitation and Development (BiRD) program.

Barangay Binasing and 62 other villages that voted for inclusion to BARMM are now tentatively called BARMM Special Geographic Area (SGA) in North Cotabato.

Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government and BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, who represented BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, spearheaded the launching of the joint BARMM-UNDP program here.

The program, which will run for five years, is a convergence plan of all BARMM offices that aims to improve lives and transform conflict-affected areas into Bangsamoro productive communities.

Monday’s event here included the inauguration and soft opening of the 900-meter road linking the 63 villages to the BARMM, illumination of newly installed solar street lights of Barangay Datu Binasing, and initial handover of 20 out of 100 units of motorized bancas for target fishermen beneficiaries, and provision of wheelchairs for persons with disabilities.

Also part of the activity was the recognition of 150 widows of MILF fighters.


They received food items (10 kilos of rice, canned goods, and coffee), vitamins, face masks, and an initial tranche of cash assistance of PHP25,000 each.

Sinarimbo, also the BARMM Spokesperson, stressed that it is important to address the immediate needs of the Bangsamoro constituents and provide them long-term sustainable development programs.

“Our goal is simple. Transform these former conflict-affected communities into peaceful and productive Moro communities. No more conflict. People are busy in their livelihood and enjoy government infrastructures,” Sinarimbo said.

Pigcawayan has 12 villages that opted to be part of BARMM.

Macacua said Ebrahim is bent on pouring development projects to the 63 SGA communities.

“The BiRD program is aimed primarily to bring development to the grassroots,” he said.

North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco, aside from expressing full support for the development of 63 villages, including road networks shared by the provincial government, is also supporting calls for the proposed extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and postponement of the first regional parliamentary election in BARMM in 2022.

“This is my consistent stance, I support the extension of BTA,” she said. “I have witnessed the gains of the establishment of BARMM. It must continue because the beneficiaries are not politicians but the people, the Bangsamoro,” she added. (PNA)


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