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Herbal remedies for diabetes.JPG
How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Contents

Malaysia, BARMM keen on pursuing business pacts

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has expressed interest in bringing in big manufacturing enterprises in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), tapping the region’s vast workforce to make processed Halal (Islamic) food and rubber products, among others.

This was revealed by MCCI president Edward Ling during a visit to the BARMM compound here last Aug. 5, together with other Malaysian representatives and business leaders.

“I’m very optimistic and very confident about the development taking place here. We are looking forward to creating jobs like manufacturing of rubber gloves or it can be toy manufacturing.” Ling said.

Apart from Ling, other members of the Malaysian business delegation were Malaysian Embassy Charge D’Affaires Rizany Irwan Muhammad Mazlan, Assistant Trade Councilor Irvin Francis, and other MCCI officials. Lawyer Wencelito Andanar, Malacañang’s special envoy to Malaysia, accompanied the Malaysian group in their two-day visit at the BARMM.

On Aug. 4, the Malaysian delegation met with officials of the BARMM Regional Board of Investments and discussed the possibility of strengthening business and development linkages between BARMM and Malaysia.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, also known as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, welcomed the visiting business group as they discussed the possibility of strengthening development ventures between the BARMM and Malaysia.

“We hope to establish more active engagements with Malaysia and other Southeast Asian neighbors in the aspect of economics and business alliance,” Murad said in a statement.

Ministry of the Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, concurrent BARMM spokesperson, said it is encouraging to see Malaysia reaching out to BARMM in the aspect of trade and commerce.

“It is really good for BARMM, especially that the region, still in its infancy stage, needs the investment support of both domestic and foreign businesses for it to take off to greater heights,” Sinarimbo, a lawyer, said in a separate interview Thursday.

Mazlan, for his part, said they want to see BARMM as a “partner in peace and brothers of development,” that dovetails with the theme of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's visit to the Philippines earlier this year.

"I think it is very appropriate to see Malaysia as the main partner and also the brother or 'kapatid', basically helping our relative. This is part of the shared prosperity and prospers the neighbor policy of the Prime Minister of Malaysia." Mazlan said in a separate statement.

Moreover, Mazlan said they want to explore BARMM's untapped potentials in tourism, a revival of the barter trade and other manufacturing industries such as Halal food.

Murad said there are three existing development plans for the region, one is with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Bangsamoro development plan crafted years ago, before the formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

“The factions of the MNLF, who joined the BARMM, have also a development plan. Then they found out that the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has also their development plan,” he said.

“We look forward to working partnership with our neighbors especially Malaysia. It is important that we can encourage investors to come in, so we can develop the economy, only then that the people will feel that something is happening, " Murad said.

Murad added that the BARMM is planning to have an investors forum aimed at associating the three investment strategies to come up with a comprehensive plan.

BARMM Transportation and Communication Minister Dickson Hermoso, a former military officer, has assured the Malaysian delegates of improving peace and order situation in the region.

"We thank Malaysia for being with us as the third party facilitator (during the peace talks with the MILF),” Hermoso, who is also currently the co-chairman of the government-MILF peace and security panel, said.

Last Aug. 1, the decommissioning process of former MILF combatants commenced, with some 3,000 members of its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) starting their one-month basic military training in military camps in Central Mindanao. The MILF trainees would form part of the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) together with their military counterparts.

The JPST assimilated with 3,000 soldiers and policemen to secure the MILF identified camps and communities while the normalization process is being done.


UAE gov't opens rehab projects for Marawi

By Divina Suson (PNA)

MARAWI CITY -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government will launch several intervention projects for the ongoing rehabilitation of war-ravaged Marawi City.

UAE Ambassador Hamad Saeed Al-Zaabi said the projects include architectural and operational plans that are being requested by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation and will be funded by the embassy.

Al-Zaabi was here on Sunday to visit the displaced families from the 2017 siege by Islamic State-linked militants.

In particular, the ambassador said the UAE-funded projects will focus on rehabilitation of schools, construction of child and youth center, construction of a center for orphans and a rural health unit in nearby Butig town in Lanao del Sur.

UAE IT Manager for the Philippine Embassy, Faisal Mohd Nabil, said the projects are already funded for this year and the embassy was only waiting for the local government to identify the beneficiaries.

“May budget na kami. Kung ilan ang kakasya sa budget yun ang i-implement namin in coordination with the LGU. Ang UAE Embassy ang mag-implement,” Nabil said.

(We have a budget. We will implement these projects based on the approved budget in coordination with the LGU. It is the UAE Embassy that will implement.)

Al-Zaabi visited the former main battle area, now referred to by the government as most affected area (MAA), and also went to see the transitory shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan where more than a thousand of internally displaced persons (IDPs) live.

The ambassador then headed to the Grand Mosque and the Bato Ali Mosque where a Catholic priest, Fr. Teresito Soganub, was held hostage by the Dawlah Islamiya extremists for 100 days during the 2017 Marawi siege.

There are 31 mosques inside the MAA that were destroyed during the war and needed rebuilding.

It was Al-Zaabi's first visit to Marawi City, where he also celebrated Eid'l Adha with the internally displaced persons who are staying in the transitory shelters in Barangay Sagonsongan.

The ambassador led the distribution of beef to the displaced families and around 200 sacks of fertilizer and five carabaos to farmers of Tamparan, Lanao del Sur, about 30-minute drive from Marawi.

BARMM marks peaceful Eid’l Adha

By John Unson, Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star)

BASILAN , Philippines — The celebration of Eid’l Adha in this province and other areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Sunday was peaceful.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman yesterday thanked the Philippine National Police and Western Mindanao Command personnel for providing security during Eid’l Adha activities in the province.

“Besides the mayors and the provincial governors, we also ought to thank barangay officials and of the Bangsamoro regional government for helping the BARMM police and military secure thousands who went out on Sunday to pray,” Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos, BARMM police director, said.

Thousands of Muslims prayed in the parade grounds of the Basilan National High School in Isabela City as personnel of the Isabela City police and soldiers of the 104th Infantry Brigade as well as barangay officials and village watchmen stood guard.

Sen. Richard Gordon said Eid’l Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice shows that both the Christian and Muslim faith are anchored in the word of God.

Gordon expressed confidence that Mindanao is a step closer to achieving peace and progress with the creation of the BARMM.

Gandamra optimistic Marawi to fully recover in 3 years

By Che Palicte (PNA)

DAVAO CITY -- Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra remains optimistic that the city will be "livable" again and will fully recover in three years’ time.

In an interview on Sunday, Gandamra said that the ongoing rehabilitation projects inside and outside the most affected area (MAA) or "ground zero" are proof that the city "will soon rise again."

“It’s not easy to rise again but with the support of the government and support from other sectors, I know makakabangon muli ang Marawi (Marawi will rise again),” the mayor said.

Gandamra said the ongoing recovery of “unexploded ordnance" (UXO) and the demolition of properties have contributed to the delay in the rehabilitation timeframe.

About 70 UXOs have so far been recovered inside the MAA, 22 of which were retrieved by the Explosive and Ordnance Team of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Authorities said six of the recovered bombs have been detonated and another 42 are still subject for detection and recovery.

Another factor that delayed the rehabilitation, Gandamra said, is the refusal of more than 2,000 property owners to give consent to the demolition of their properties.

“We allow them to visit their respective properties for them to assess together with the government agencies. This is to see if the structure is sound for rehab or for repair, and if it is unsound then we will be recommending it for demolition,” he explained.

Currently, Gandamra said that out of the 6,435 structures in the ground zero, 2,804 demolition permits have been served by the local government unit. A total of 1,875 structures have been cleared while 1,720 were being cleared of debris, he added.

“After the demolition, there are lots of components to be built in the ground zero,” he said, referring to the planned public infrastructures such as markets, mosques, schools, and livelihood centers.

Meanwhile, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Secretary-General Marcelino Escalada clarified that despite the delays, rehabilitation timeline remains on target.

Escalada assured full recovery would immediately start following the release of funds and assessments of the area.

“The funds were only downloaded in 2018 into the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to finance the rehabilitation and restoration of Marawi,” he pointed out.

Escalada said that NHA’s task in the Marawi rehab and restoration was to build temporary and permanent shelters, aside from clearing the area of explosive and debris.

Last Friday, the LGU and NHA led the groundbreaking ceremony for the establishment of permanent shelters in Barangay Kilala and Gadongan in Marawi City. The housing project, named Pamayandeg sa Ranaw Residences, was funded by the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) while the land acquisition and development was fulfilled by the NHA.

About 2,000 housing units will be built in the 39-hectare land and will cater to 2,000 families. Escalada said permanent shelters are expected to be completed by March 2020.

The siege of Marawi by militants linked to the Islamic State began on May 23, 2017 and lasted for five months. It resulted in the death of over a thousand people, mostly extremists who were killed in gun battles with government forces.

NC-II holders join BARMM skills tilt

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – A total of 27 National Certificate Level II (NC-II) holders of technical vocational institutions across the Bangsamoro region are competing for this year's regional skills competition organized by the Technical, Education, and Skills Development Authority – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (TESDA-BARMM).

“Winners of the August 9–10 regional level competition will represent the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the zonal (Visayas-Mindanao) and national skills competition later this year,” Minister Mohagher Iqbal of Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education said on Friday.

The winners will have chance to join the 2020 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) skills competition in Singapore.

Iqbal said the contest serves as a promotional activity of TESDA-BARMM, its partners, and stakeholders to showcase the skills and readiness of the trainees for future employment.

“This competition will not only hone the skills of the competitors but will also create greater awareness on the importance of technical and vocational education,” BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim said in a statement.

The three-day event focuses on seven trade areas such as housekeeping, plumbing, computer systems servicing, electrical installation and maintenance, shielded metal arc welding, photovoltaic systems installation, and hairdressing.

Lady peace advocate named TESDA-BARMM head

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The minister of education of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has named a lady peace advocate to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) - BARMM.

Director Ruby Andong assumed office on Friday after Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE-BARMM) announced her appointment during the opening program of the regional skills competition 2019 in Barangay Rebuken, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Andong has been at the forefront of women advocacy groups in the region and has helped lobby for the passage of the organic law for the Bangsamoro region. Outgoing TESDA-BARRM Director Omar Dalagan was moved to TESDA-Zamboanga.

Speaking to reporters, Andong said her priority as head of TESDA is to promote moral and values formation among trainees and clients.

She vowed to cleanse the regional office of corruption and irregularities, if any, and promote transparency, accountability, and moral governance.

She also pledged to continue the TESDA programs that were implemented by her predecessor.

4Ps payout resumes in BARMM after validation

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Payout activities of the Department of Social Welfare’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) resumed Thursday under the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with Malabang, Lanao del Sur as the starting point.

The expanded BARMM includes in its jurisdiction the areas of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Lanao del Sur; the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi; and 63 villages in North Cotabato province.

Ministry of Social Services (MSS) – BARMM Minister Raissa Jajurie said the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao alone has more than 400,000 4Ps beneficiaries, excluding Cotabato City and the 63 villages of North Cotabato, which only voted for inclusion to the BARMM set up in a plebiscite early this year.

“Lanao del Sur has the highest number of beneficiaries at 21 percent of the total 4Ps beneficiaries in the region,” Jajurie said.

She said a massive validation of the number of 4Ps beneficiaries in the region had caused the delays in the scheduled payouts, as both the DSWD and MSS carefully detached the names of unqualified payees from the list.

“The beneficiaries would receive their 4Ps remunerations from 2017 to 2018, depending on the number of children each family has as dependents,” Jajurie said.

The 4Ps is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the government under the DSWD to help reduce poverty by making welfare programs conditional upon the receivers' actions. The CCT criteria may include enrolling children in public schools, getting regular check-ups at the doctor's office, and receiving vaccinations.

Under the 4Ps program, the household-beneficiaries are given basic health and educational grants for the children. Each family is handed over a health grant of PHP500 per month or a total of PHP6,000 a year, and another PHP300 monthly education grant per child for a total of PHP3,000 for 10 months.

Jajurie said they will finalize the 4Ps payout for other parts of the region in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Ministry of the Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo has ordered local government executives to render logistical support for the conduct of the 4Ps payouts, such as preparing venues for the activity.

Sinarimbo warned local officials not to meddle in any way with the 4Ps payout procedure.

Barmm to strengthen disaster management

(SunStar Zamboanga)

THE Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) is eyeing to enlist the assistance of some former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to strengthen its Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) programs.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, minister of Local Government, said they will create a community-based monitoring and response for disaster incidence with the help of some of the MILF former combatants.

“Because we have signed a peace agreement with the MILF and majority of their people will be undertaking the process of normalization, we will be able to utilize some of these people so that we can build a community-based preparedness and response for disasters,” Sinarimbo said.

He said they will re-channel the combatants’ energy and skills into new frontiers like to become emergency responders.

For instance, he said, to address the decades old flooding in the town of Datu Salibo, Maguindano, they will ask some of the former combatants to help clear the water ways of around 11 bridges.

“Only one of it has its water running. The other 10, the water is almost stagnant, therefore causing the flood in the roads,” he explained.

Sinarimbo said they are also working out a system for the deployment of some members of the MILF to watch over the bridges in Cotabato City – the Quirino, Matampay, and Tamontaka bridges.

“We will deploy some people there, and their work is to simply ensure that the water hyacinth will not clog the bridges, which would normally cause flooding in the city,” he said.

“The potential for maximizing the utilization of some of the former MILF combatants brings instrumental benefit to many of the communities in our program for preventing disaster from happening. We hope to repeat this in some other areas where we have their forces,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barmm is eyeing to strengthen its DRRM by allocating five percent of the its annual block grant to help fund the management’s programs.

“We are in the process of preparing the budget of the different ministries for 2020 with the anticipation of the operationalization of the block grant in the autonomous region,” Sinarimbo said.

The Ministry of Local Government serves as the secretariat of the region’s new emergency and disaster response office – the Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (Readi-Barmm). (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)

Ex-BIFF rebels get aid from Maguindanao prov’l gov’t

By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan (PNA)

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Twenty-nine former combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were chosen as beneficiaries of a livelihood package extended on Tuesday by the Maguindanao provincial government.

Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu led Tuesday's distribution of livelihood assistance at the satellite Provincial Capitol grounds in Buluan town with actor Robin Padilla.

Mangudadatu expressed confidence that the assistance to the 29 beneficiaries would dissuade them from rejoining their comrades still in the jungles fighting a lost cause.

The former BIFF rebels, who formed an association, were given 20 units of hand tractors with carts, bags of rice seedlings, 13 fishing boats, fishnets, and 60 packs of assorted groceries.

Mangudadatu said the assistance was made possible through the help of the Department of Agriculture of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The governor encouraged the former rebels to convince their friends and relatives not to join extremist groups for the sake of their families.

“There is no more need to take up arms against the government because I promise to provide you with basic government services that would be brought to your communities,” she said during the turnover ceremony on Tuesday.

In a speech, Padilla encouraged the former rebels with stories of his own experiences as an actor in helping alleviate the plight of the Moro people.

Colonel Efren Baluyot, Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander lauded Lt. Colonel Rogelio Gabi, 40th Infantry Battalion commander, for initiating the gathering of all stakeholders for peace in his area of jurisdiction.

Baluyot also told the former rebels and the people they are serving in Maguindanao that the military is tired of war and that it also wants peace in the province.

“Violence is not a solution to social problems ion Maguindanao, violence will only bring more violence and problems and hamper the development of your area,” Baluyot said.

Robin Padilla joins relief mission in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez

COTABATO CITY -- In partnership with the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and actor Robin Padilla, the provincial government of Maguindanao spearheaded Monday a relief mission in five villages of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town affected by ongoing clashes between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Maguindanao Governor Bai Miriam Mangudadatu, together with Padilla and troopers from the Army’s 601st Brigade and 33rd Infantry Battalion led the medical-dental and relief distribution to some 1,500 families from the villages of Dasawao, Bakat, Ganta, Pagatin 1, and Pagatin 2.

"We in the government have joined hands in distributing relief goods and extending basic medical services to the displaced families,” the governor said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The activities also included the distribution of reading glasses and “Operation Tuli” (circumcision) to young boys. The military operation has been ongoing since July 25 after government forces and BIFF rebels under Abu Toraife clashed in Barangay Dasawao.

The running gun battles have so far left one soldier and 15 BIFF rebels dead. Shariff Saydona Mustapha Mayor Sajid Islam Ampatuan said all affected families have received relief assistance from the provincial government.

Padilla, also known as “Abdul Aziz,” assured the evacuees he would always be with them in times of difficulty even as he urged them to help the government fight extremism.

He also shared how he found and embraced Islam, saying it was one of the greatest things that happened in his life.

“My Muslim brothers and sisters don’t go against the government. Instead, unite and support its programs,” Padilla said. (PNA)

BME eyes to boost Islamic studies in BARMM

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY - Some 700 Mudaras (principals) of Madrasah (Islamic schools) gathered Friday in this city to discuss ways on how to strengthen the traditional Madaris education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Madaris (plural is Madrasah) refers to a Muslim private school with a core emphasis on Islamic studies and Arabic literacy.

Madaris education is considered as the oldest in Mindanao and is recognized to be the single most important factor in the preservation of the Islamic faith and culture in the Philippines.

With the theme “Strengthening Madrasah Education Geared towards Attainment of Quality Balance Education,” the gathering was an opportunity for the Mudaras to clarify issues and concerns in providing BARMM with quality education.

“The vision of the BARMM- Bureau of Madaris Education (BME) is to have a balanced and quality education for all the areas under the region,” said Dr. Ismael Abdullah, BME director-general, in a statement on Saturday.

“What does it mean to have a balanced education? It is for our next generation to completely understand the Arabic and English language,” he said.

Abdullah said the children in the Madrasah should learn the Arabic language for them to fully understand the Holy Qur’an, and also absorb the English language since technology in the country is mostly taught in English.

“Studying both Arabic and English is the children’s key to attain the good here in the world and, in the hereafter,” Abdullah said.

During the program held at EM Manor Hotel here, the participants also received inputs on proper Madrasah management, rules, duties and responsibilities of Madaris principals.

The BARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur; the cities of Lamitan, Basilan, and Cotabato; and 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato.

BARMM emergency responders serve 800 displaced families

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's (BARMM) emergency response unit has served over 800 families displaced by the ongoing skirmishes between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

Myrna Jocelyn Henry, Rapid Emergency Action On Disaster Incidence (READI-BARMM) spokesperson, said that as of Wednesday, beneficiaries of the relief assistance have reached 569 families from Barangay Ganta and another 236 families in Barangay Bakat, both of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.

“The initial relief goods included 10 kilos of rice, 10 pieces of instant coffee sachets, and four cans each of corned beef and sardines per family,” Henry said in an interview.

Leading the distribution was Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, concurrent head of READI-BARMM, who noted that more relief assistance would be given to the displaced families in the coming days.

The displacement arose from the continuing military operation against the BIFF in the so-called “SPMS box” that refers to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Datu Salibo.

Nine BIFF radicals and a government trooper were so far reported killed in clashes that began on July 25.

Henry said that READI-BARMM is mandated to respond and provide relief assistance to at least 20 percent of the affected population within 72 hours after the occurrence of either man-made and natural calamity, provided the security sector gives them the go-signal.

Over 300 BARMM employees join earthquake preparedness drill

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- More than 300 employees of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) participated in a simulated earthquake drill here Tuesday, which was aimed at preparing the workers in times of disasters.

The drill inside the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of BARMM in this city, was spearheaded by the Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI) – BARMM that replaced the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Response Team (ARMM-HEART).

Established in 2013 by then ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, ARMM-HEART is composed of rescuers and medical responders trained to serve even in hostile parts of the region. Capable and dependable workers of ARMM-HEART were absorbed into the READI-BARMM agency for the continuance of its rescue missions on natural and man-made calamities across the region.

Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) – BARMM was designated by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Murad to head READI-BARMM in concurrent position.

“The READI-BARMM remains as a confluence of various s agencies acting and responding as one in times of disaster,” Sinarimbo, also assigned as spokesperson of BARMM, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Sinarimbo described the earthquake drill as a means of measuring BARMM’s state of readiness in dealing with various disasters and, at the same time, instill the culture of readiness and preparedness in the region’s constituents.

He recalled that in 1976, a powerful tremor triggered a tsunami and greatly devastated Cotabato City and many parts of the region, causing many casualties.

"This is the reason why we always have to be prepared," he said referring to the incident.

Meanwhile, Engineer Rainier Amilbahar of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology-Central Mindanao underscored the importance of the drill especially for employees, who can pass on the knowledge to their families.

Aside from MILG-BARMM, other agencies that participated in the drill were the Office of the Chief Minister, Bureau on Cultural Heritage, Office of the Regional Treasury, and the Regional Budget and Management Office.

The drill carried out under the theme “Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago." aligns with the observance of this year’s National Disaster Resilience Month.

PRO-BARMM unveils kids’ playground inside police camp

By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

CAMP SALIPADA K. PENDATUN, Maguindanao -- The Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM) opened a kids’ playground inside this camp Sunday.

“The school is one of the most important institutions of our community,” Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos Jr. police director for PRO-BARMM, told reporters here covering the event on Sunday.

Marcos said the camp is the only police regional office in the country that likely operates and maintains a kindergarten school inside its vicinity.

“We, in this camp, also believe that education is still the best instrument for human and community development,” he added.

On Sunday, the police official led the blessing and inauguration of the newly constructed PRO-BARMM Kindergarten School playground here.

Accompanying Marcos in the event were Mary Grace Batac, principal of the child development center, and Christopher Yu of the Cerecare Philippines Foundation (CPF).

Part of the inauguration was the ceremonial distribution of storybooks led by Batac while the CPF, for its part, donated a trampoline that intends to create fun memories at the playground for pupils of a kindergarten school.

For more than a decade, the PRO-ARMM kindergarten school has been molding and educating children towards a better future through a good educational foundation.

Marcos said the playground serves as an additional tool to make the kindergarten school a more conducive learning environment for children of police officers. Most of the kindergarten school pupils are sons and daughters of PRO-BARMM police officers.

BARMM pushes livelihood for ‘productive’ communities

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MAFAR-BARMM) is pushing for a productive Rural Improvement Club (RIC) in Marogong, Lanao del Sur, by providing them a month-long livelihood training program on raising vegetables in their backyards.

Anisa Socor, municipal cooperative development officer of Marogong, said that the activity is in line with the National Nutrition Month celebration in partnership with the MAFAR-BARMM provincial office and the municipal agriculture office.

Socor said members of RICs in Marogong were provided vegetable production training at the Sultan Magedala Memorial National High School in Marogong town.

“A total of 79 women, mostly mothers, from Barangays Cahera and Cairantana have so far benefited from the training,” Socor said in a statement Monday.

She added that the participants were trained on how to create and maintain a backyard garden so the food that they take are nutritious and organic and free from chemicals.

Socor said that after the training period, all participants would be given assorted vegetable seeds as startup packages for their vegetable gardens.

Aside from Lanao del Sur, the MAFAR-BARMM intends to sustain the program in other parts of the region that also includes the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, and the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato.

Chinese bizmen eye manufacturers in BARMM

By Christine Cudis (PNA)

MANILA -- A 10-man delegation from China arrived in Cotabato City on Friday to look for investment opportunities and also to support the development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In an interview with Philippine News Agency, head of delegation Peter Tiu Laviña said the investors are eyeing the Polloc Freeport in Parang, Maguindanao as a possible hub for various manufacturing activities.

“One is interested to put up a plastic pellet processing plant for export,” Lavina added.

Lavina also shared that the proposed PHP200 million business venture at the Polloc Freeport can employ 100 workers. Officials of BARMM's Bureau of Investment added that this is just for the first phase of the development.

In her official letter, Director of Reliable Global Business Partners, Inc. Mafee Cai responded to BARMM Chair and Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim’s request to explore investment opportunities in the region.

“In response to your vision for a peaceful and progressive BARMM and to heed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for support in its development, we are happy to send you an initial trade delegation in your area,” Cai’s letter said.

The delegation included Ma Jiansheng, Chair for Shenzhen Xinyuhao Electronic Technology Co., Ltd; Shi Jintian, Director for Bailiansheng Plastic Products Co., Ltd; Lin Yongquan, Vice Chair and CEO of Shenzen Qiaoguang Technology; Lin Haifeng, Director for Shenzen Qiaguang Technology; ChongGuofan, Executive Director for Dongguan Jinglong Wine Co.; Cai Chuangcheng, Sales Director for Yujicheng Medical Devices Co.; and Zhang Jinguang, Director for Shenzen Qiaguang Technology.

Delegates from Manila, including Cai and Reliable Global Business Partners Executive Director Ana Li, also accompanied the Chinese business group.

Meantime, the Italian government earlier expressed interest in funding development programs for farming and fisheries in the Bangsamoro Region, as well as the construction of rural roads and even river dredging.

Unicef unveils online messaging tool in BARMM

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY — The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) launched Thursday in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) the U-Report application, a free online messaging tool that encourages the youth to be the voice of their communities.

The U-Report uses polls, alerts, and collect real-time responses in advancing adolescent and youth interactions online.

“U-Report will now give adolescents and young people opportunity to make their views known in a much more powerful way,” said Andrew Morris, Unicef Philippines chief of field office in Mindanao, during the launching of the mobile phone application at Shariff Kabunsuan Complex here.

The U-Report, the first in the country with BARMM as the area of choice, was launched in partnership with the Voluntary Service Overseas Philippines and the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs–BARMM.

“For Unicef, we know that the passion, the ideas, and innovations of young people can transform the Bangsamoro’s future. They need to be involved, consulted, empowered, and be equipped,” Morris said.

To become a U-Reporter, users must log in to their Facebook accounts, search for the U-Report Philippines page, open the messenger app and click join. Upon joining, reporters can start participating in the polls and send reports, “Your voice matters.”

Sign up to U-Report and take part on the weekly polls,” Morris told some 300 youth representatives present at the launching ceremony.

The U-Report, currently active in 53 countries, is a social platform created by Unicef, made available via SMS (Short Message Service), Facebook and Twitter where young people and adolescents express their opinion and be positive agents of change in their communities.

It works by gathering opinions and information from young people on topics ranging from employment to discrimination and peace-building.

U-Reporters respond to polls, report issues and support child rights with data and insights shared back with communities and connected to policy makers who make decisions that affect youth and adolescents.

Piagapo develops curriculum for Madrasah education

(LGU Piagapo/PIA10)

PIAGAPO, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- The Local Government of Piagapo has developed a centralized curriculum for Arabic schools (Madrasah) within the municipality to ensure that students receive a coherent learning experience that contributes towards their spiritual, educational, social, and psychological learning and development.

For the first time in the history of Arabic education in the province, the said curriculum will be introduced to teachers and students this month after Piagapo Vice Mayor Engr. Ali Sumandar turned them over to different Madrasah heads in a small ceremony held July 3 at the municipal hall.

The unified curriculum is designed for Kinder (Tahderia), Grade (Ibtida), High School (Motawasit), High School (Thanawi), and College (Kolya) students which was crafted by Muslim religious scholars in close coordination with the local government through its office on Islamic Affairs headed by Cosain Datumaas and Aleem Mostafa Panganting, Focal Person and Piagapo’s Deputy Mayor for Islamic Affairs, respectively.

The curriculum was developed to also help combat the spread of religious extremism and radicalism in the country.

JICA presents CCDP final report for Bangsamoro

(BARMM Government)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) met with key officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on July 4, 2019 to present their final report on the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project (CCDP) for the Bangsamoro.

CCDP is a JICA project implemented from July 2013 to July 2019.

It sought to help improve the system and institution of the new autonomous Bangsamoro region and upgrade its human resources capacity.

It also aimed to reduce the poverty rate in the region, especially in conflict-affected areas.

CCDP was composed of three components: governance, public service delivery and community development, and economic enhancement.

One of its projects was the Revenue Enhancement Assistance for LGUs (REAL) in ARMM which helped improve the revenue generation in the region.

“We assure you that your sacrifices and the taxpayers’ money will not be put into waste. It will enhance many of the programs that we tend to implement,” Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the local government ministry told JICA officials.

Among the BARMM officials who attended the meeting were Executive Secretary Esmael Pasigan, Assistant Executive Secretary Abdullah Cusain, Cabinet Secretary Asnin Pendatun, and others. (BARMM/PIA10)

Tawi-tawi gets 1st floating solar farm

By Lilybeth Ison (PNA)

MANILA -- The fishing island of Sibutu in Tawi-tawi Province will be the first fishing community with a floating solar farm to power ice-making and cold storage equipment, and serve as a fish convergence area or "Payao".

In a meeting on Monday with executives of Aboitiz Power led by Tristan Aboitiz and Regional Directors of the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) at the DA central office, Sibutu Island was unanimously chosen to be the site of the multi-function floating solar farm.

The floating solar farm, a new technology employed by solar power generation companies so as to minimize the use of valuable lands, is now being introduced in the Philippines by the Norwegian company SN Power in partnership with Aboitiz Power.

The partner companies have established the first prototype in Magat Dam, Isabela which is capable of generating 200MW.

DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol learned about the new technology and proposed improving this to enhance the productivity of the fisheries sector.

Piñol said that while fishermen in remote and isolated islands of the country could catch a huge volume of fish, the absence of ice and cold storage discourages them from catching more than what their family could consume.

During the meeting, Aboitiz Power executives said the Floating Solar Farms could be improvised to generate enough power to run ice-making and cold storage facilities in far-flung and isolated fishing communities of the country; generate power which could be stored in batteries to provide light to the fishing communities; serve as a huge Fish Aggregating Device or "Payao" where small fish species would gather and attract big fish species like Tuna; and function as a fish cage in coves or near the coastlines for the production of high value fish.

It was agreed upon that the Floating Solar Farm prototype will be funded by the DA-BFAR with an estimated cost of PHP20-million and is expected to be completed in four months.

DOF to devolve Amanah Islamic Bank operation to BARMM

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The Department of Finance has committed to devolve the operations of the Amanah Islamic Bank (AIB) to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

BARMM’s Minister of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) Naguib Sinarimbo announced the good news in a brief report he posted online Tuesday about his “very cordial” meeting a day earlier with DOF Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez in Metro Manila.

“(BARMM Finance) Minister Ed Guerra and I met yesterday (Monday) with Finance Secretary Dominguez at his office inside the Bangko Sentral compound (in Manila)…(and) we discussed a range of issues from the operationalization of the Inter-Governmental Fiscal Policy Board (IGFP) to taxes and revenues sharing between the Bangsamoro and the national government,” Sinarimbo said.

The IGFP, a body stipulated under the BARMM charter to oversee fiscal dealings between the Bangsamoro entity and the national government, is reportedly on the verge of final completion this year with help from regional and national financial experts.

“To be candid, we were impressed by the creativity of the design and the amount of time he spent with us (in three hours),” Sinarimbo said, referring to Sec. Dominguez.

He said Sec. Dominguez “committed to help us (in the BARMM fiscal operations) and promised to even hand over to us the Al Amanah Islamic Bank (AIB).

The AIB was created during the Marcos administration but due to some technicalities and lack of substantial capital, the AIB has not been fully and beneficially operating, former officials of the bank said.

They said Congress is now deliberating on a bill on the adoption of Islamic banking in the Philippines amid news reports that even non-Muslim global economies had found interest in adopting it.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) met and discussed recently the potentials of the pending approval of the bill docketed as House Bill 8281, NCMF spokesperson Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said.

During Monday’s meeting, Minister Sinarimbo said Secretary Dominguez also approved the BARMM government’s request for a waiver of the taxes and duties for the equipment grant of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the Bangsamoro governance.

Sinarimbo said the JICA-granted equipment pool consists of well-drilling machines for water supply projects and Technical skills education development training machines.

“The amount of taxes and the duties (accruing to the donated machines) are substantial,” he said.

DA to guide BARMM in crafting agri-fisheries master plan

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Stakeholders of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) will gather in Davao City on July 11-12 for the first-ever Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Agriculture and Fisheries Master Plan Assembly.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in a statement Monday, said the crafting of the master plan would be administered by Department of Agriculture's (DA) national office.

Expected to participate are about 300 stakeholders like farmer leaders, fisher folks, peoples’ organizations, development planners, agriculturists, engineers, and local officials from the fledgling BARMM entity in Mindanao.

“It will be held in Davao City,” Piñol said of the upcoming assembly.

The master plan will focus on the aspects of increasing agriculture and fisheries productivity in the region; identification of critical infrastructure services like rural roads and fish ports to hasten economic growth; addressing chronic poverty; facilitation of land titling of lands to end conflicts; and establishment of a food security plan that would make the region self-reliant thus ensuring availability of affordable food.

Piñol said once the draft master plan shall have been completed, it will be presented to BARMM Chief Minister Ahod "Murad" Ebrahim.

The DA chief said he will submit another copy of the draft master plan to President Rodrigo Duterte before his State of the Nation Address on July 22.

The Master Plan for Agriculture and Fisheries will be the first ever to be crafted for the Bangsamoro region whose development was stunted by decades of conflict and bloodshed, Piñol said.

MILF, MNLF combatants may join PNP

(Manila Standard)

Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation combatants could become members of the Philippine National Police as long as they meet the requirements set by the National Police Commission.

This was agreed upon during a meeting on Friday between Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Bangsamoro Transition Authority Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr.

Under the agreement, the government will be waiving the age and height requirements of the MILF and MNLF applicants.

“We welcome the admission of MILF and MNLF members to the police force, provided that they meet the general requirements in the national level, and of course we will waive some requirements to accommodate our Moro brothers,” Año said.

“You can actually start the identification of MILF and MNLF members who are qualified for the immediate recruitment so we can make this arrangement and start training.”

Major General Jonas Calleja, PNP Director for Plans, said his agency is in the process of drafting the memorandum circular to operationalize the arrangement.

“We’re preparing the draft memo circular and it’s stated there that only age and height may be waived, provided the educational attainment requirement shall be applied within 15 years,” he said.

Under Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the age, height and educational requirements of the ex-fighters may be waived by the NAPOLCOM.

The law also says those who want to be part of the police force should apply within five years from the ratification of the BOL, and that they should meet all the educational requirements within 15 years after joining the PNP.

On the appointment of the Police Regional Director for the BARMM, Año said his office “shall be getting the recommendation of the Chief Minister as long as these police officers are qualified.

“Rest assured that I will respect your preference, including the fire and jail directors for the BARMM.”

Ebrahim expressed his elation over the pronouncement, saying the former combatants will be given the chance to serve their communities and country.

The meeting also gave Año, Ebrahim and Galvez a chance to discuss ways to facilitate the smooth transition of the new Bangsamoro government, specifically the peace and security aspect of governance.

Año said the DILG “shall organize the PRO BARMM organization pursuant to NAPOLCOM Resolution 2019-009.”

“With that, we’ll also provide a regional police force battalion that can be used for special purposes. And for the provincial and police units, we also welcome the preference of the local government units under the BARMM,” he said.

Under the Normalization track, Galvez said at least 1,600 PNP members will be trained as members of the Joint Peace Security Teams.

They will help secure communities during the camp transformation and the decommissioning of 12,000 or 30 percent of MILF combatants which is expected to start by Sept. 7 this year.

Duterte confirms Agri chief’s move to BARMM

By Joey A. Gabieta (Correspondent, Inquirer Visayas)

ALANGALANG, Leyte — Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol will leave the Cabinet to become one of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s men in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

This was announced by President Duterte in a speech during the inauguration of the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center (CYA-RPC) in Barangay Mudburon, Alangalang town, Leyte on Friday night.

Piñol was around when the President said the Secretary would be appointed as one of his point men in the BARMM, a region created as a result of the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

“Si Secretary Piñol will be leaving the agriculture department. Because we have created BARMM, a new political entity… I’d like a point man there in the likes of Secretary Piñol,” he said.

According to the President, he wants to speed up the devolution of all national government agencies in the region because it seemed so slow.

“I’m not saying it’s not moving, but they are so slow that I really need a point man in the likes of Secretary Piñol,” he said.

When reached for comment, Piñol declined to issue a statement. “Narinig nyo naman ang sinabi ni Presidente (You heard what the President said),” he said.

Maguindanao guv implements ‘smile policy' among employees

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Newly-installed Maguindanao Governor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu has directed provincial government workers to “smile” while serving the people.

“A simple simile gives sincerity to what you have pledged in bringing services to the people,” Mangudadatu told a radio station here in an interview Thursday.

The governor first mentioned her "smile policy" during her inaugural address at the gymnasium of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on July 2.

“There is always a feeling of calmness and friendly atmosphere when you smile, especially during government processing transactions,” she said.

Mangudadatu also called on the residents to report to her any provincial government employee who acts irritably when dealing with them in their respective offices.

“It's time to change all these (bad mood intervals) to a positive approach,” the governor said, adding her administration will push for the “Bagong Maguindanao” campaign as a way to reinvent the image of the province.

BARMM to continue natural gas exploration

By Nash B. Maulana

Cotabato City—The Bangsamoro autonomous government wants recovery efforts to continue from a long-stalled natural gas exploration in Sultan Sa Barongis, Maguindanao.

Sources said Hadji Murad Ebrahim, interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is slated to meet President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang early next week to take up, among other things, the stalled natural gas exploration in Ligawasan Marsh in Cotabato Upriver Valley.

Mr. Duterte previously told the Moro people in a speech during Independence Day celebration he attended in Malabang, Lanao del Sur to lead all development efforts for the Ligawasan Marsh as it belongs to them.

BARMM Deputy Executive Secretary Abdullah Cusain said a meeting has, indeed, been slated next week between Murad and the President, but would not confirm as to whether the Ligawasan Marsh was in the agenda of their executive talk.

Cusain said Murad is being “profoundly apologetic” for not having met the President during the Eid’l Fit’r dinner tendered by Malacañang on June 5 for the country’s Muslim leaders, as he had by then already left for the Umrah religious trip to Mecca.

Murad would also have met the President on June 12 in Malabang, Lanao Sur, but again unable to catch up with official schedules for which many among current Moro appointees are still on adjustment period from erstwhile interior life.

Two top officials of the BARMM had visited on July 1 a drilling site left concrete-sealed by a unit of the Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. in Sultan Sa Barongis, Maguindanao.

Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the BARMM Ministry of the Interior and Local Government said he and BARMM Minister Abdulraof Macacua of the Ministry Environment, Natural Resources and Energy visited the drilling site of the PNOC-EC in Barangay Tukanakuden in Sultan Sa Barongis town in Maguindanao.

Sinarimbo said Republic Act 11054, the BARMM charter, provides for co-managing by the autonomous region and the national government of any proceeds from recovery efforts for “fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal.” Revenues generated from exploration shall be “shared equally between the national government and Bangsamoro government.”

Residents in the area boast of deep-wells that appear to contain flammable gas from underground, a potable liquid that burns when lit on container or at gushing pipe faucet.

The marsh water, flammable whether pumped through pipes or fetched in containers from deep-wells, has been shown in videos uploaded on social media.

Since the Marcos administration, the Philippine government and a Malaysian firm had endeavored to join hands on natural gas exploration and recovery efforts in Ligawasan, including the digging of the Kulanguan Diversion Channel in 1980 to drain a huge portion of the marsh, but which has altered the natural course of the Mindanao River.

In 1994, the Malaysian-owned Petronas Carigali stopped its exploration operation because of armed conflict in Barangay Tukanakuden where massive natural gas deposits were then the object of huge pipe drilling.

PNOC-EC succeeded from where the Petronas had left, and the Philippine government exploration was officially opened in Tukanakuden by then PNOC President Ramon Mitra Jr. in 1999.

In his statement to residents then, Mitra was straightforward as to describe as “mind-boggling” the underground natural gas deposits in Sultan Sa Barongis, which many experts had estimated at 10 billion liters. But again, the PNOC-EC halted its operation on the third drilling near Barangay Tabungao (in what is now Rajah Buayan town) in 2005, purportedly due to heavy losses and peace and order problem.

Residents said some heavy equipment units rented to PNOC-EC by private contractors were seen drowned in a stream of quick sand in Barangay Tukanakuden. They believe the Marsh was and still is an an enchanted kingdom where Mother Nature is “protected by forces of unseen spirits.”

Macacua and Sinarimbo said, as Muslims, they both believe that unseen spirits formed part of God’s creations.

Residents said PNOC-EC workers talked about long-term exploration and recovery programs for gargantuan deposits of natural gas, and of fossils crude on second level down.

Still, for some people a flammable liquid is hardly conclusive that methane gas deposits were anywhere close for a find underground.

Most common studies on combustion reveal that it results from a “rapid chemical combination of a substance with oxygen [like water] in the process of producing heat and light.”

NAPC exec vows help in BARMM poverty reduction

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Noel Felongco has vowed to help reduce poverty incidence in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In a visit here Wednesday, Felongco said NAPC will implement a five-year development plan dubbed as “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” to deliver basic social services prioritizing the poorest communities in the country.

Felongco said the program was part of the government’s effort to reduce poverty incidence and contribute to the realization of the AmBisyon Natin 2040, the collective vision of Filipinos over the next 25 years.

“The national government looks forward to accelerating the country's economic engine and reduce overall poverty incidence from 21 percent in 2015 to 14 percent by 2023,” the NAPC chief said.

He added that BARMM communities are among the NAPC's Sambayanihan priority areas.

"We will ensure that all basic needs are accessible in BARMM," he added.

Results from the National Anti-Poverty Sectoral Summit in 2016 indicated that the 10 basic needs of Filipinos are food and land reform, water, shelter, work, health, education, social protection, healthy environment, peace, and participation.

In the BARMM, the NAPC seeks to focus on five salient issues that include peace and order, increasing inflation rate related to agriculture and fisheries, lack of inter-agency collaboration, inadequate community participation, and climate change.

Abdullah Cusain, BARMM assistant executive secretary, noted that majority of the population in the region" are farmers and fishermen. If we can improve agriculture and fisheries, we can improve poverty incidence."

In 2018, BARMM's gross regional domestic product (GRDP) posted 7.2 percent growth rate in which the sectors of agriculture, fishing, hunting, and forestry contributing to the largest share in the region's total economic performance.

Felongco noted that a survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority during the first half of 2018 showed that poverty incidence remains high in BARMM provinces.

The BARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan Tawi-Tawi and Basilan, the cities of Marawi, Lamitan, and Cotabato City, and 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato province.

DBM set to release P59-M budget for BTA

By Arjay L. Balinbin

THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) is set to release P59 million for the salary of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members of the newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“The Department of Budget and Management announced that it would be releasing P59 million for the salary of 82 Bangsamoro Transition Authority members for July to December 2019,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement on the Cabinet meeting held Monday evening.

The announcement came after the Cabinet “discussed the delay of release of BTA funds because of the reenacted budget.”

Mr. Panelo said Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification (PAPRU) Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. also informed the Cabinet on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Normalization process and other BTA activities, including developments in the BARMM such as the appointment of leadership and heads of ministries.

In a statement posted on her Facebook page on June 25, BTA Minister Maleiha B. Candao raised the issue of their delayed salary.

“The Office of the Interim Chief Minister thru his Executive Secretary Mike Pasigan has been moving heaven and earth to fast-track the release of the salaries of the BTA members but all of these depend largely on the Department of Budget and Management,” she said.

“Government protocol and the delay of services do not necessarily mean the lack of commitment by the BARMM leadership. We all want things to flow smoothly but sad to say, there will always be a wave that can capsize our boat. The most important thing is we are always proactive,” she added.

The members of the BTA — which serves as BARMM’s interim government during the three-year transition period until June 2022 — took their oath of office on Feb. 22.

The Bureau of the Treasury has said that the reenacted budget has a “significant” impact on this year’s government spending, particularly on the new expenditures and the capital outlays, including salaries.

BARMM, Save the Children join hands to advance kids’ rights

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), in coordination with the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, inked Monday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Save the Children Philippines (SCP) on efforts to advance children's rights in the region.

The BARMM’s Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Health, Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, and Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education are among the regional partners of SCP that support and promote the rights of children, particularly in Mindanao.

Fanny Divino, SCP senior program manager for Mindanao, said the MOA pertains to the conduct of a contextualized Child Rights Situational Analysis (CRSA) in selected BARMM areas.

“This is to ensure that the needs of every child in the region are effectively and meaningfully provided by the duty-bearers, through an evidence-based and participatory approach," she added.

She said the result of the CRSA will be utilized in the development of programs and policies for children by all concerned institutions. An individual or group of individuals will also be assigned to participate during the actual research conduct for collaboration and assessment, she added.

SCP is an independent organization that aims to create better lives for children in the Philippines and across the world. It has been operating in the Philippines for the last three decades.

SCP provides emergency and long-term support for Filipino children to have access to quality education, health services, child protection, child rights governance, disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation, food security, livelihood, and other humanitarian response interventions.

The SCP agreement with BARMM shall remain in full effect until December 31, 2019, and could be extended upon agreement by the concerned parties.

Mangudadatu leaves over P200-M budget for new Maguindanao guv

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Outgoing Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu on Sunday officially relinquished his post to the newly-elected provincial governor during simple and emotional turnover ceremonies in Buluan, Maguindanao.

The symbolic key of the provincial government was received by Datu Ali Sangki, father of Governor-elect Bai Meriam Sangki-Mangudadatu who failed to attend the ceremonies due to prior commitments.

The ceremony, attended by Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and new Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, was held at the provincial gymnasium.

Also in attendance were newly elected officials of Maguindanao. “I am turning over the reign of the government of Maguindanao, its assets and liabilities and cash in bank amounting to more than PHP200 million,” said Mangudadatu who will commence his new term as Maguindanao second district congressman.

In his speech, he outlined his accomplishments in his nine-year stint as provincial chief executive. He also vowed to support all programs of the new provincial governor for as long as these will benefit the people and for the betterment of Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu lauded military officials, headed by Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and new 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, for helping him maintain law and order in the province.

Sangki, in behalf of his daughter, said the “Election is over, now is the time to move forward and bring about good governance to improve the lives of the people of Maguindanao”.

He said his daughter will work for healing and reconciliation following the divisive May 13 elections “since most of the officials involved in elections were related by blood and by affinity.”

The turnover rites, attended by Sobejana and Carreon, was held at the provincial gymnasium.

Also in attendance were newly elected officials of Maguindanao.

Following the ceremony, Maguindanao provincial employees surprised the outgoing governor with a thanksgiving program and a sumptuous lunch.

PH, Japan warships meet off Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi

By Priam Nepomuceno (PNA)

MANILA -- Filipino and Japanese naval vessels undertook on Friday a maritime engagement activity off Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi island in Sulu Sea, a military official said.

In a statement Saturday, Philippine Navy spokesperson, Capt. Jonathan Zata said the participating ships are the PN's strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla One consisting of "helicopter destroyer" JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyers JS Murasame and JS Akebono.

Zata said the BRP Davao Del Sur accorded the customary meeting procedure with the flotilla which culminated with a photo exercise.

Participating in the activity were JMSDF’s SH-60K helicopters and a PN maritime patrol aircraft, a Beechcraft King Air TC-90.

"This cooperative engagement is a prime opportunity for the PN and JMSDF to enhance interoperability and strengthen relationship and partnership among like-minded navies to promote peace and stability in the region," Zata said.

He said the JMSDF’s Escort Flotilla One is scheduled to call on the Port of Subic on Sunday and further interact with the personnel of the PN.

"This further highlights the continuing commitment between the two navies as in building capacities towards the peaceful use of the seas," Zata said.

Free Wi-Fi available soon in 1,000 Bangsamoro barangays

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Free Wi-Fi will be made available in local government units (LGUs) and schools in 1,000 pilot barangays in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to help the fledgling region cope with the pace of development in the country

The enabling memorandum of agreement (MoA) was inked here on June 26 by the BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), the Department of Information, Communication and Technology (DICT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the building of Tech-for-Aid centers in constituent-schools and local government units.

MILG-BARMM Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said his office was looking at digitalizing 1,000 barangay, initially in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

BARMM, which replaced the 29-year-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, covers Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, this 36-village city, and 63 barangays in six North Cotabato towns. The region has a total of 2,589 barangays.

Fahad Zahid Sheikh, UNDP consultant and chief strategist of the Access to Information (A2I) in Bangladesh, said he was optimistic that better access to information improves the Human Development Index (HDI) of the benefitting communities.

Sheikh’s team met BARMM LGU representatives on Wednesday for a consultation on infusing the A2I Bangladesh concept it has developed as part of organizational enhancement UNDP intervention in the regional autonomy.

The project includes free public Wi-Fi access, with the Tech-for-Aid Centers serving as the “engines” of developing e-governance for LGUs as well as e-learning for provincial, municipal and barangay schools and public libraries.

Manan Butongkay, DICT provincial officer for clustered Regions 11 and 12 said 38 Tech-for-Aid Centers were being developed in Lanao del Sur and 20 in Maguindanao.

DICT officials said the national government’s priority institutional beneficiaries of the project are: 1) LGUs to help fight corruption; 2) schools to help improve learning tools for students in rural areas, and 3) the security sector to enhance communications facilities and internet access for military and police camps, so as to strengthen the government’s campaign against terrorism, the proliferation of dangerous drugs, and human trafficking.

Engr. Alla-Von Balabagan of the DICT Region 12 said Tech-for-Aid Centers are being initially established in Upi town in Maguindanao, and in some selected barangays of that municipality.

Sinarimbo said the digitalization project is geared towards developing good governance even in the remote villages of the region.

It will also be an effective learning support tool to level the playing field for barangays and city-based students in terms of access to e-learning opportunities.

BARMM execs join Environment Month cleanup

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Environment officials and volunteers joined hands Thursday in a simultaneous cleanup drive in Maguindanao province to mark the Environment Month.

Minister Abdulraof Macacua of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MENRE-BARMM) led environment officials in holding a coastal cleanup drive in barangays Badak and Kusiong, both in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Also joining the cleanup activity were representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, Ministry of Social Services and other BARMM agencies.

Macacua said this year's Environment Month, anchored on the theme: “Beat Air Pollution,” focuses on "all forms of cleanliness – in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and in the environment we live in."

Macacua said cleanliness is a fundamental concept in Islam and “should be internalized into our everyday actions.”

“Starting from your heart to your prayers, in our homes, and even in governance, cleanliness should always be practiced,” Macacua said. “We can achieve overall cleanliness when we instill sincerity in our actions and activities in the name of Allah,” he added.

Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Norodin Salam, meanwhile, articulated the need to “inculcate unity, spirituality, and sustainability in our daily activities to continue our efforts in protecting our environment.”

Volunteers of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), the local Moro Islamic Liberation Front political party headed by Macacua, also participated in the annual activity.

‘Single-use plastics’ banned inside BARMM complex in Cotabato

By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan (PNA)

SHARIFF KABUNSUAN COMPLEX, Cotabato City -- Government workers are no longer allowed to bring “single-use plastics” within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) offices inside this compound.

This, after BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim ordered a total ban on the use of “single-use plastics” effective immediately.

In a memorandum dated June 17 but made public on June 26, Ebrahim has directed the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) to supervise the implementation of the order.

“Single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, cups, plates, spoon and forks, polystyrene (such as Styrofoam) containers and similar items are no longer allowed in all offices of the BARMM,” Ebrahim said.

“Caterers are also advised to place food in containers either made of paper, plant-based wrappers or reusable plastic containers,” he added.

Ebrahim said all BARMM officials and employees are enjoined to use reusable containers, tumblers, mugs and/or biodegradable food packs to help protect the environment.

He added BARMM is mindful of its role and mandate to protect the environment and promote the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.

MENRE-BARMM Minister Abdulraof Macacua said his office will strictly enforce the memorandum in all offices within the BARMM regional complex as well as in provincial offices and public schools.

Among the banned items include bottled mineral water, plastic cups, instant noodles containers, “Sando” bags, instant coffee containers, among others.

Macacua said all employees were advised to bring recyclable water containers to avoid the use of plastics.

MAFAR-Lanao del Sur holds free vet clinic in Lumbayanague

(MAFAR/PIA Lanao del Sur)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur -- The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) Provincial Office, in collaboration with the municipality of Lumbayanague, held on June 20 a Veterinary Civic Action Program (VETCAP) in Brgy. Cabasaran.

VETCAP aims to reduce economic losses in the livestock sector by ensuring healthy and productive animals.

Technical assistance extended during the activity included consultation, physical examination of animals, Vitamin ADE supplementation, wound treatment, and administration of dewormer for those heavily infested with external and internal parasites.

A total of 48 cattle and goats were served.

For cattle, 37 heads were given vitamins, 29 dewormed against external and internal parasites, and nine sprayed with an anti-infection solution for wounds.

For goats, 11 heads were given supplemental vitamins, with nine heads also dewormed against internal parasites.

Forty-three livestock farmers also benefited from the one-day free clinic.

They were also briefed on proper animal health management practices.


Provincial Livestock Coordinator Daud M. Diapar said the activity is a response to the critical challenges faced by the sector in the province.

It is also a way of supporting early warning system to better monitor the prevalence of diseases that will serve as basis in planning a more effective prevention and control measures.

Maguindanao health units get medical equipment

By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- To capacitate local government units in conflict and natural calamity affected towns in Maguindanao, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) donated medical equipment to 15 rural health units in the area.

The beneficiaries of the medical facilities assistance are the towns within the so-called “SPMS Box” or the Salibo, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak zone.

The equipment turned over Monday to the Datu Hofer local government was funded under the BARMM Humanitarian Development Assistance Program (HDAP).

Fifteen rural health units inside the so-called ‘SPMS Box’ received medical equipment that included automatic emergency room lights, tabletop steam sterilizer, otoscope penlight, and maternal care equipment.

"With the current policy directive of the Interim Chief Minister to observe and implement the principle of moral governance in the entire bureaucracy of the BARMM, we can make a difference and improve our service delivery," Mohajirin Ali, Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO) executive director, said during the ceremony.

Also in attendance during the turnover rites were representatives from the Ministry of Health, Maguindanao Integrated Provincial Health Office, RPDO personnel as well as police and military officials.

The SPMS Box is often the area of conflict involving government forces and Moro rebels who have been harassing civilians during harvest season.

With the rural health units equipped with facilities, health officials are hopeful that the health needs of residents are attended to on time.

In Marawi rebuilding, mosques come first

By: Bong S. Sarmiento (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Catholic leaders say reconstruction of cathedral can wait until Islamic city recovers from impact of 2017 siege

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, Philippines — The Prelature of Marawi will not rebuild the heavily damaged St. Mary’s Cathedral destroyed in the siege staged by Islamic State-inspired militants two years ago unless mosques in the Lanao del Sur provincial capital are reconstructed, Catholic Church leaders said.

Reynaldo Barnido, executive director of Duyog Marawi, said it was only proper for the mosques to be rebuilt first because majority of residents in Marawi, the country’s only Islamic city, were believers of Islam.

Duyog Marawi is the social action response of the prelature and the Redemptorist missionaries to the Marawi siege. “Duyog” means accompaniment.

“In deference to our Muslim brothers and sisters, we will wait until the mosques are restored before we reconstruct St. Mary’s Cathedral,” Barnido said.

Demolition

At least 25 mosques at the city center, including the Grand Mosque, the largest in the city, were destroyed or damaged during the battle between Islamist militants and government forces from May to October 2017.

Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña said St. Mary’s Cathedral, which used to serve as the seat of the Marawi prelature, was no longer structurally sound as a result of the siege.

The cathedral will be demolished and reconstructed after Marawi has recovered from the impact of the war, the prelate said.

The Prelature of Marawi is temporarily holding office in Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Balo-i town, Lanao del Norte province, which is less than an hour away from Marawi by car.

On May 23, 2017, the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups seized Marawi, triggering the war that displaced more than 350,000 civilians.

The militants also desecrated St. Mary’s Cathedral and abducted Catholic priest Chito Suganob and several church workers. Suganob escaped from his captors in September 2017.

President Duterte imposed martial law hours after the siege, which remains in effect until the end of this year.

Over 1,100 individuals, mostly Islamist militants, were killed in the war that destroyed the core of Marawi.

Two years after the siege, more than 100,000 civilians remained displaced and are still suffering in squalid tent cities or transitional shelters, or staying with their relatives.

Debris clearing

To date, the rehabilitation of ground zero, the former battle area now referred to by the government as the “most affected area,” has yet to start.

The Task Force Bangon Marawi, an intergovernmental body tasked to rehabilitate the war-torn city, is still in the debris clearing phase even as experts continue to search for over three dozen unexploded bombs fired by military aircraft during the conflict.

Hamidullah Atar, the Sultan of Marawi, said that two years after the Marawi siege, victims continued to reel from the mental, emotional and financial torture of the fighting that changed the course of their lives forever.

Atar said the first step toward healing was for them to be allowed to return to their homes at ground zero.

Better investments seen after Lanao visit of President

By Nash B. Maulana

Cotabato City—Better business climate has heralded from President Rodrigo Duterte’s the surprise visit to Lanao del Sur last week that investment prospects there have improved, Vice-Governor Mamintal Bombit Adiong Jr. said Friday.

Adiong emerged from a three-day meeting here that ended Friday local officials and Chief Minister Hadji Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) vowed to deliver Moro areas from the bottom of the country’s poverty index.

He said Lanao Sur, despite the recent Marawi crisis, has much to contribute from its own resources to aim for greater economic performance to take the province off the list of the country’s poorest provinces.

Adiong said the President’s visit to celebrate Independence Day in Malabang Lanao Sur signaled the end of the Marawi conflict and the province’s rise to new heights of economic prosperity.

Lanao Sur, followed by Basilan and Sulu and Maguindanao, form the BARMM’s poorest areas in terms of poverty index reckoned from the general public responses to queries in Family Income and Expenditure Survey by enumerators of the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2018.

Speaking at the forum here for his mother Governor Bejoria Alonto-Adiong, the vice-governor expressed “utmost appreciation and sheer optimism” from President Duterte’s gesture in joining Lanao del Sur in celebrating the Philippines Independence Day last June 12.

“I believe that Mindanao is now the most important focus of human freedom in the country: Freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from injustice. We shall continue the fight against terrorism and poverty until peace, security and prosperity take root in this part of the country,” Adiong said.

Jennie Alonto Tamano, head of the Provincial Information Office, recalled seeing in the President a sense of endearment and fondness for the Maranaos, particularly the governor’s family, among them, young women professionals, who accompanied the Chief Executive in ceremonies he attended in Malabang.

“Exploit your natural resources as those are yours,” the Chief Executive told the crowd. Mr. Duterte was joined by Ludovico Badoy, chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), who also grew up in Malabang.

Vice-Governor Adiong said once he assumes as the province’s governor on June 30, 2019, he would focus more on the economic development of his province by drawing in more investments, generating more job opportunities and on sustainable livelihood development programs.

This, he said, is in support of the Duterte administration’s quest for a prosperous nation.

BARMM to launch ‘Radyo Bangsamoro’

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is set to launch on Saturday its weekend radio program “Radyo Bangsamoro”, aimed at updating its constituents on the affairs of the region.

The program, slated from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., would be aired via the Catholic-run DXMS radio station in this city.

“In our initial broadcast, BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod (Al Haj Murad) Ebrahim would be heard via phone patch inviting his constituents to tune in to the program and be abreast on regional matters,” Irene Fernandez-Gonzales, chief administrative officer of the Bureau of Public Information – BARMM, said.

Fernandez said the program would handle topics on peace and security, economics and development, among others.

She added that Abdullah Cusain, BARMM deputy executive secretary, is also expected to join the initial broadcast of the program.

The program would be hosted by Fernandez-Gonzales and Albashir Saiden, also of BPI-BARMM.

The BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan; the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan; and the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato province that voted for inclusion to the fledgling expanded region during the January 21 and February 6 plebiscite this year.

Marawi folk get livelihood, humanitarian aid from US gov’t

By Divina Suson (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, Philippines — The US Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over some P1.95 million worth of community grants that the US government had earlier committed for humanitarian and recovery work in war-torn Marawi City.

These grants, which included livelihood and improvement for schools, health centers, water and drainage system, electrification and other public facilities, formed part of the $59.1-million (P3.2-billion) Marawi Response Project that US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim launched in October last year.

Patrick Wesner, USAID acting mission director, led the distribution of grant certificates to beneficiaries here last week.

Wesner said the US government had been inspired by the stories of resilience shown by Marawi residents, whose lives had been disrupted by the five-month fighting between Philippine troops and Islamic State-inspired armed groups that laid siege to Marawi City in 2017.

He assured that the US government would continue to deliver humanitarian aid to improve conditions in evacuation centers and communities hosting displaced residents of Marawi.

Around 33,000 evacuees in centers and transitional shelters benefited from water and sanitation facilities installed through the help of USAID.

Representatives of 25 groups from nine Lanao del Sur towns received their grant certificates during the ceremony here.

Japan biz group to plant 10K Sakura seeds in Davao, Marawi

By Christine Cudis (PNA)

DAVAO CITY -- As they bank on building deeper relations with the Philippines, a Japanese business group on Thursday bared its plans of planting Sakura seeds in Mintal, Davao City and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.

In a media interview during the Davao Investment Conference 2019, Ichido Miyake, vice president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Mindanao, said they are currently experimenting what type of trees would survive in a tropical country like the Philippines.

“We initially have 800 seeds from Okinawa [Japan] that will be planted in the colder areas of Davao, in Eden [Nature Park],” Miyake said.

These Sakura trees are potentially most suitable to be planted in the Philippines since Okinawa has warmer weather than the rest of the places in the country with Sakura.

Mintal, a village in Davao City, is dubbed as the Little Tokyo.

Sometime in 1937, the height of the Commonwealth era, Bagobos and Japanese coexisted and it even resulted in intermarriage.

Its agricultural activity brought more Japanese workers until there were more of them than the locals. Around 11,000 Japanese lived and worked in Mintal at the time.

“This will help bring more tourists in the city and in the country,” Miyake said, adding that the Sakura trees will be planted by the roadside.

If the experiment goes well, he said they might start the planting the seeds this year. And three years after, residents would see them bloom.

Apart from Mintal, Miyake said he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzano agreed to plant Sakura trees in Marawi City’s ground zero.

“Like after the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, planting Sakura trees became part of our healing process. It symbolizes peace,” he said.

Miyake and his colleagues from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce were participants of the Davao ICON 2019. They brought with them at least 50 delegates from Japan to attend the event.

Transition plan from ARMM to BARMM now in effect

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Bangsamoro Transition Plan (BTP) is now in place and in effect after the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) issued the green light for its implementation on Tuesday.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim submitted the plan on Monday to the BTA for scrutiny and eventual approval the next day.

It was drafted by the coordinating team for transition composed of members from the government such as Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Department of Budget and Management, Civil Service Commission, and ARMM, as well as Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the smooth transition from ARMM to BARMM.

Ebrahim said the plan will serve as a guide book for leaders named by President Rodrigo Duterte to man the new expanded autonomous setup in the southern Philippines.

“The transitional plan is a product of hard work of people in support to the endeavor of achieving sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim said.

“This document includes (steps) on how we will switch from ARMM to this newly-established form of government, the BARMM,” he added.

The BTP also includes organization chart for the various ministries, offices, and agencies from the BARMM, as well as its timeline for the gradual phasing out of agencies and offices under the now-defunct ARMM.

The transition period will end once the new set of BARMM officials shall have been elected in political exercises in 2022.

BARMM youth ensured of key participation in Bangsamoro governance

(PR)

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao -- More than 100 youth leaders from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) converged here over the weekend and crafted a five-point youth peace and security agenda to ensure their interests are well-reflected in the policies of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as well as incorporated into the National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security.

In a Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) consultation organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), BARMM youth leaders were given an avenue to discuss key concerns and submit recommendations to promote the youth sector’s agenda relative to the ongoing transition of the Bangsamoro interim government and the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Hamida Paglas, a participant and a member of MyPeace Boses ng Kabataan, said through this activity, the various narratives on the youth will be highlighted.

“'Yong mga negative narrative tungkol sa kabataan mawawala na po, ngayon po mabibigyan na kami ng boses, malaya na po naming maipapahayag ang mga opinyon at beliefs as an individual, as youth. (Negative narratives about the youth will end. Our voices are heard, and our opinions and beliefs are acknowledged),” Paglas said.

Nasserudin Dunding, a representative of the Youth Political Reform and Peacebuilding Advocate of Young Centrists Union, noted the workshop is a chance for the BARMM youth to voice out their needs, saying, "Malaki 'yong magiging tulong nito lalun-lalo na sa mga kabataan. (The output of the YPS consultation is a big help for the youth)."

"Sa consultation na ito malalaman natin kung ano ba talaga ang gusto ng mga kabataan na nasa Bangsamoro at hindi lang yung theory ang naririnig natin. (We get to know the concerns and needs of the youth in the Bangsamoro straight from them, not from the theories we just hear),” he added.

Under the BOL, there is one reserved sectoral seat for the youth sector in the Bangsamoro Parliament. The rights of the youth are also enshrined in Article IX: Basic Rights of the BOL, which specifically recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building.

The passage and ratification of the BOL and the subsequent establishment of the BARMM is part of the political track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Another component of the CAB is the normalization track, which covers the decommissioning of MILF fighters and their weapons, the dismantling of Private Armed Groups, as well as the transformation of several camps into progressive and resilient communities, and runs in parallel with the political track.

The CAB is the peace agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27, 2014.

Five-point Youth, Peace and Security agenda

The consultation-workshop sessions focused on the role of the youth in governance and their representation in institutions; the promotion and protection of human rights; youth’s participation in the implementation of transitional justice and reconciliation initiatives; prevention of violence, promotion of a culture of peace; and rehabilitation and development efforts that address the needs of the youth affected by armed conflict.

From these main concerns, the participants proposed five immediate action points: (1) Empowering the youth through capacity building and in partnership with different stakeholders; (2) Proper research, documentation, validation of data narratives of the Bangsamoro and integration the same in the basic to tertiary education; (3) Strengthening social enterprise for the youth by the BARMM; (4) Policies and mechanisms in peace education should prioritize culture, religion, faith and formal institutions; and (5) Establish a BARMM youth grievance office that will support youth initiatives for rebuilding Marawi.

Among the participants is Arham Kamensa, a member of the Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament (BYMP). BYMP is an OPAPP-led activity which simulates the Bangsamoro Parliament. It was launched during the celebration of National Peace Consciousness in 2018.

Kamensa said he looks forward "to the intervention of the Bangsamoro youth not just on political empowerment but also in education and business investments."

"[These activities] will open eventual employment opportunities [in] major areas that have been directly affected by the [peace and security situation] in Muslim Mindanao throughout the years...I think, then, that platforms for these areas must be given [to] young Bangsamoro," he added.

In his message which was delivered by OPAPP Director Jana Gallardo, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. lauded the youth’s active participation as he stressed the importance of having their voices heard.

"I'd like to guarantee that we hear you, loud and clear. It is imperative that the inputs, concerns and insights that you have crafted will be reflected in the policies and actions," he said.

The secretary also reaffirmed the national government’s commitment to support the BARMM youth in pushing forward their initiatives.

"Nandito kami para sa inyo dahil malaki ang tiwala namin sa inyo at naniniwala kami sa kakayahan ng mga kabataan sa Bangsamoro.(We are here for you because we trust and believe in the potential of the youth in the Bangsamoro)," he said.

Galvez also emphasized that the participation of the youth is crucial in sustaining peace in BARMM.

BTA Member of Parliament (MP) lawyer Anna Basman underscored the importance of establishing a mechanism that would guide the youth in resolving peace and security challenges in their community.

"The youth's idealism is both a boon and a bane to the issue of peace and security. This laudable character makes some vulnerable to ideologies that purport to represent their belief system or their desire to advocate for the oppressed,” Basman said.

“Because of this, it has become crucial to provide a mechanism so that this same idealism is channeled to resolve emerging peace and security challenges in our communities," she added.

Meanwhile, BTA MP and Executive Director of the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (OBYA) Marjanie Macasalong committed that the output of the youth leaders will be incorporated in the local policies:

"We commit to include these outputs to our Comprehensive Bangsamoro Youth Development Agenda which the OBYA is currently drafting. Rest assured that we, in our office, will do our best to address those issues within our bounds," Macasalong said.

Response to UNSCR 2250

The activity also allowed the youth delegates to formulate and submit recommendations that would be incorporated into the youth peace agenda, which in turn, will be included in the crafting of a national action plan adopting the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

This is the first resolution to acknowledge the legitimacy of the youth's role in upholding and promoting international peace and security.

In response to the UNSCR resolution and the government’s all-inclusive peace and development agenda, OPAPP initiated three major island-wide Youth Peace Table (YPT) consultations which became a platform for the youth to support the Bangsamoro and CPP/NPA/NDF Peace Processes, as well help in the promotion of the culture of peace.

After gathering 117 key youth leaders from across the country, the YPT was able to help establish 76 youth networks. The YPT has launched its Youth Peace Agenda, as well as implemented various peace-building initiatives in their schools and communities.

The BARMM YPS consultation was conducted in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, Generation Peace Network, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Office of the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs, 1st Infantry Tabak Division, 6th Infantry Kampilan Division, 11th Infantry Alakdan Division, 37th Infantry Brigade, and 104th Infantry Brigade.

BARMM has 1M tree seedling reserves

By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MENRE-BARMM) said on Thursday its tree seedling reserves in its regional nursery facility has already reached close to one million.

Environment officials and employees conducted a soil- bagging activity at the nursery in Barangay Dimapatoy, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, as part of the celebration of the Environment Month.

“It (soil bagging) is a continuing effort is to prepare the young trees for future tree-planting events in the region,” MENRE-BARMM Minister Abdulraof Macacua said.

To ensure the sustainable growth of the regional seedling nursery, Macacua and other environment workers have committed to continue developing it along with various seedling nurseries across the Bangsamoro region.

“Soil-bagging activities would be considered a part of the ministry’s greening program amid the effects of climate change,” Macacua said.

Macacua said he would regularly visit seedling nurseries across the region to assess and evaluate the needs of nursery sites and take action on its sustainability.

BARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan.

In 2014, the defunct Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao succeeded in the care and eventual distribution of one million tree seedlings in the region through the regional tree seedling nursery.

BARMM envi ministry remits P200-M revenues to reg'l treasury

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MENRE-BARMM) has remitted more than PHP200 million in revenue collections to the regional treasury, making it the first agency to produce such income for the regional bureaucracy.

MENRE-BARMM Minister Abdulraof A. Macacua said in a statement Thursday that as of June 13, his office has contributed a total amount of PHP207,010,832 to the BARMM regional treasury office.

Macacua assumed office last March 1, following the assumption to office of new leaders named by President Rodrigo Duterte to serve the BARMM set-up during its transition period.

He said the revenues were collected from mining fees and other payments that included certification, verification, and certificate of non-coverage fees.

Macacua said one of his primary goals is to foster moral governance alongside environmental protection. | “Environmental protection is a must for us working in the ministry. That’s already given,” he said.

More than such duty, however, he said “moral and good governance should also be focused on by the seated Bangsamoro leaders.”

For the past three years of the defunct ARMM, the regional environment office has been the region’s highest remitting agency. Macacua vowed to maintain that feat, including the proper management of collectibles.

“As we continue working towards a much better Bangsamoro, we must bear in mind the morality that we need to instill in our forms of governance,” he said.

Bangsamoro region information website launched

(ABS-CBN News)

MANILA - A website that provides information about the newly established Bangsamoro region was launched Thursday in Cotabato City.

AccessBangsamoro.ph aims to promote the free flow of information, discussions, and analyses for the effective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) said in a statement.

The website contains data, infographics, policy issues, think pieces and publications about the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM.)

Bangsamoro Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said government is committed to support the website with the “hope that the portal will provide a significant space for research and discussions that will promote transparency, accountability and moral governance in the Bangsamoro.”

The online portal is maintained by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Policy Center of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG), with financial aid from the Australian government.

“Access Bangsamoro will serve as a platform for education and discussion, help create sound and effective evidence-based public policy, and engage as wide a part of society as possible,” Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson said.

Follow Access Bangsamoro on facebook.com/accessbangsamoro and twitter.com/accessbm.

Japan turns over school building in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- An official of the Japanese embassy in Manila has turned over a six-classroom building in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao on Wednesday, as part of Tokyo's support to education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Manabu Yasukawa, first secretary of the economic section of Japan Embassy in Manila, was in Kabuntalan during the turn-over program that was also attended by Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, and Kabuntalan municipal administrator Anwar Salik and other education officials.

The school building was put up and funded by the Japan government through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects.

Yasukawa said the Japanese government is providing technical expertise in helping improve education in the BARMM as part of its contribution to the Philippine government’s peace process in Mindanao.

The school building built inside the Barangay Gambar Elementary School in Barangay Gambar aims to help improve the quality of education in Kabuntalan.

Iqbal lauded Japan for its continuing intervention in conflict communities in southern Philippines.

Cotabato Light shares energy conservation tips

By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Aboitiz-owned Cotabato Light and Power Company (Cotabato Light) on Wednesday has issued an energy conservation advisory to its clients, as part of its education and information dissemination program on energy savings.

The power firm said several reasons hike power consumption in homes amid attempts to lower their monthly electric bills.

Arlene Hepiga, speaking for Cotabato Light, said a residential customer who has not added a new electric-powered appliance at home may be surprised if his or her power consumption reads higher than before, especially this summer season.

She said usually, higher energy consumption is traceable to other causes, which the customer is not aware of or has overlooked.

Hepiga explained that an increase in the number of users or frequency of use of some types of appliances, particularly electric irons, electric stoves or ovens, air conditioners, and refrigerators means an increase in power consumption.

“As the household gets bigger, hosts more guests, or celebrates more occasions, the use of these appliances tends to increase,” she said.

Hepiga said the habit of most consumers to leave electronic devices plugged also affect power consumption. Citing as an example, she said the on-standby power feature of appliances consumes 2-10 watts or 6-10 percent of usage.

“These devices, which emit red light, are considered “phantom load” and are still operating even when you think they are turned off. It is best to unplug appliances when not in use,” she said.

She added that during the summer season, consumers normally have prolonged or heavier use of air conditioning units, electric fans, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators resulting in an increase in power consumption.

Hepiga also cited “seasonal factors” that enable or induce more people to stay home and make heavier or extended use of electric appliances like electric fans and air conditioning units. These season factors include school breaks and vacations, the Christmas season, the fasting month of Ramadhan, holidays and other festivities, as well as other occasions such as family reunions.

Hepiga said a defective magnetic rubber gasket of refrigerators also spike power consumption.

“If the gasket is no longer airtight, it allows cold air to escape from the refrigerator, forcing the refrigerator’s motor to work harder to maintain the temperature at the desired setting,” she said.

In its 2018 company profile, Cotabato Light said it is serving an estimated 40,000 customers in Cotabato City and parts of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat towns in Maguindanao province.

Marawi victims continue to receive aid from DSWD

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Two years since the Marawi siege, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to provide assistance to the internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly to families and individuals from the 24 most affected areas.

These projects include transitory family support package (TFSP) with a cash grant amounting to P53,000, livelihood settlement grants (LSGs) amounting to P20,000, and the provision of “pabaon” relief packs amounting to P1,359 each.

The beneficiaries were identified based on the “Kathanor” list, which is a result of the biometric profiling process called “Kathanor.”

To date, 15,677 families have been identified, and each household will receive a total of P73,000 cash assistance and one “pabaon” relief pack.

The distribution of assistance for those coming from the most affected areas started last April 6, serving 82 percent or 12,993 families out of the total target of 15,677 family-recipients, so far.

Meanwhile, families from the less-affected areas could access LSGs and pabaon relief packs upon the release of the initial list from the “Kathanor” process.

DSWD assured the public that all identified beneficiaries will be served and provided with assistance in line with its goal to respond to the needs of the IDPs.

Cotabato City's first female police chief assumes post

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The first female graduate of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) on Monday assumed office as the first city police director here.

Colonel Portia Manalad replaced Colonel Michael Lebanan as head of Cotabato City Police Office (CCPO) during the 2 p.m. ceremony held at the CCPO headquarters situated at Pedro Colina Hill, this city.

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi welcomed Manalad, even as she bid goodbye to Colonel Lebanan who will be reassigned to the Police Regional Office Region 12 in General Santos City.

With her installation as CCPO head, Manalad, 46, made history by becoming the first female city police director for Cotabato City, in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) and in the entire island of Mindanao.

In 1995, Manalad also exemplified by becoming the first and lone woman to graduate at the PNPA. Manalad was also a graduate of Master in Public Management, major in Development and Security, conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines in 2016.

Moreover, she served in the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in conflict areas of Kosovo and East Timor. She had pushed for the deployment of more women peacekeepers in the UN missions in conflict-affected countries.

“Let's work hand in hand with our new acting city director in achieving peace, security, and unity amidst diversity,” Guiani-Sayadi said in her welcome remarks.

Manalad, an advocate of women empowerment, stressed once more as in her previous public speaking engagements that “women may be weaker physically but we could be as strong as everybody else in the service in several other ways.”

PCOO, TFBM bring int’l media to Marawi City

(PCOO)

MANILA -- The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has brought more than 40 foreign journalists to Marawi City on May 23 to showcase the government's rehabilitation program two years after the Marawi siege broke out.

The reporting tour aims to curb inaccurate information about the current situation in Marawi City.

This is the third reporting event organized by the PCOO-Office of Global Media Affairs (OGMA), following the tour in Eastern Samar to cover the return of the Balangiga Bells in December, and the trip to Cotabato City and Maguindanao for the Bangsamoro Organic Law Plebiscite last January.

More than 40 media personnel participated in the reporting event in Marawi City, coming from outlets based in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.

The trip was organized by the OGMA, in partnership with the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

“We want to bring the journalists there to provide them the accurate narratives to avoid disinformation, which is what the PCOO has been advocating for,” OGMA chief JV Arcena said.

“This is an opportunity to showcase the government's efforts on the ground as well as the sentiment from the locals themselves, to paint a clearer picture of the situation,” he added.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, meanwhile, lauded the efforts of OGMA and TFBM.

“What you (OGMA) did was important, to provide the international media the correct narratives from the government and the people on the ground. You made their assignment or job easier for organizing a tour and securing them the clearances to get into the restricted areas. Thank you, OGMA for making a difference in this year’s anniversary of the Marawi siege. Thanks a lot for your time and effort, JV Arcena,” Andanar said.

Upon arrival to Marawi City, the international media witnessed the culmination program of the Marawi Week of Peace.

"We ensure Marawi will rise again as a prosperous city again. We are with you until the end of the rehabilitation in December 2021," Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and TFBM Chair, Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, said in a speech before the locals.

Then, the international media went to the most affected area where they saw the construction of the Bangolo Bridge -- the main artery going to Marawi’s central business district.

They also witnessed the demolition of buildings beyond repair.

Del Rosario said once all debris management work is completed by November, the construction of vertical infrastructure will now commence.

About 24 infrastructure projects are lined up to be built until 2021.

Del Rosario said currently, the main challenge of the rehabilitation program is the clearing of unexploded explosives and ordinances, as he wants to assure that the city is safe before residents return to their homes.

He said bombs planted by the Islamic militants have a 650-meter blast radius -- potentially wiping out all buildings in the area.

Nevertheless, he said TFBM has been prompt in the rehabilitation process.

"We are on the right track. We can do it in less than five years," del Rosario said, noting that the timeline is shorter than the seven-year period estimated by outside experts.

He noted that the government immediately conducted intervention activities as early as two months into the Battle of Marawi even while skirmishes were ongoing. These include land development, construction of temporary housing, distribution of relief goods, and medical outreach activities.

"There are no delays. Propagandists are using delays as a Jihadist recruitment narrative," del Rosario said.

Col. Romeo Brawner, Commander of the 103rd infantry brigade, meanwhile said during the reporting tour that the Islamic terrorists no longer have the capacity to attempt another attack.

“Their capabilities are diminished. The threat posed by Maute-ISIS has gone very low,” he said.

Moreover, the reporting tour also brought the international media to the Sagonsongan transitory shelters where they interacted with the displaced families.

They also witnessed the Department of Social Welfare and Development payouts consisting of PHP73,000 cash and household goods.

“We are on our way to being well. We are finally learning what peace is all about,” Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra said during the tour.

The PCOO-OGMA is tasked to connect Philippine government policymakers with the international media, and to promote priority policy messages through engagements with foreign audiences.

Marawi on road to recovery through healing, reconciliation

(PR)

MARAWI CITY -- “We are on our way to being well. We are finally learning what peace is all about,” Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra declared as residents here on Thursday commemorated the siege that occurred two years ago.

Although, the full extent of the rehabilitation process has yet to be completed, Gandamra urged the people in Marawi to put more emphasis on social healing.

“Peace starts with us. Peace must be realized,” he said as the city celebrates the culmination of the Week of Peace festival.

The festival was held right on the grounds of the City Hall, where two years ago, the Mayor and several of his security men stood firm for days preventing the Maute group from burning the City Hall.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr., who was then the chief of Western Mindanao Command, shared that just like their mayor who fought against the ISIS-linked group tooth and nail, the people of Marawi have shown their best by being resilient right at the height of the conflict.

“I was tasked to deliver an inspirational message today as we culminate the Marawi Week of Peace. But the reality is, it is you, the people of Marawi, who have inspired and strengthen my resolve to work for genuine and enduring peace,” he said.

“Truly, I am very inspired to know that as we observe the Holy Month of Ramadan, you are using the occasion as an opportunity to reflect on the lessons of the Marawi experience and apply them to your daily lives,” Galvez said, adding that “This is where the healing process can truly begin.”

Galvez emphasized that Marawi stand to benefit from the establishment of the Bangsamoro region.

“The opportunity for us to heal, rebuild, and recover is within reach. With the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the fate of this beautiful city now rests not only in the hands of the new leadership but also in your hands,” he said.

“You now have the opportunity to play a key role in charting the course of Marawi's future,” Galvez pointed out.

Evacuees go back

According to Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, only a few families affected by the conflict are still staying in evacuation camps.

“At the initial aftermath of the siege, there were about 57 evacuation centers with almost 6,000 families within and outside of Marawi. Now we have only two evacuation centers in Marawi with only about 312 families,” he said.

“And by July, all of these families will be accommodated in the temporary shelters. So nobody will be staying in evacuation centers,” he said.

Families that applied for building and reconstruction permits from the city government of Marawi will be allowed to go back in the most affected area, he said.

Del Rosario said Marawi is gradually bouncing back.

“We are mandated to ensure that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again,” he said.

Transitional justice program

To achieve a holistic approach for the healing process, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is partnering with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to help rehabilitate former members of the Maute group.

Col. Romeo Brawner, the commander of Task Force Ranao, said it is also important to intervene in the deradicalization of these individuals who were duped to join the Maute group.

“We are looking at the Basilan model, wherein members of the Abu Sayyaf, who have surrendered, where given proper interventions,” he said.

Galvez said his office will be helping the military in Lanao areas to bring down the level of animosity between the victims of the conflict and surrendered perpetrators.

“What we are looking at is the implementation of transitional justice and reconciliation here,” he said.

Part of the activities is to meet with the members of the Maute group who have surrendered and their families for an Iftar.

Brawner said they will tap these former and reformed combatants to prevent others from being radicalized.

Galvez also went to the Sarimanok Evacuation Center together with OPAPP personnel to hand over goods in solidarity with the internally displaced persons.

The visit is part of the yearly Duyog Ramadan that OPAPP is implementing during the month-long observance.

Meanwhile, Galvez, Del Rosario, Gandamra, and Brawner held a solemn wreath laying to commemorate the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice to liberate Marawi. The ceremony was held inside the 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters.

“The gallantry of the 168 soldier who lost their lives will forever be etched in our hearts,” Galvez said.

Army battalions join 'Brigada Eskwela' in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Soldiers from two Army battalions took time out on Thursday to participate in “Brigada Eskwela” initiatives in public schools in Maguindanao as part of their social responsibility, officials said.

Lt. Col. Elmer Boongaling, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), said soldiers of the Bravo Company joined parents and teachers in preparing the Datu Paglas Central School in Poblacion, Datu Paglas, Maguindanao by providing manpower assistance and free haircut, especially to incoming students.

Boongaling said the annual Brigada Eskwela was spearheaded by Bouden Tudon, head teacher of Datu Paglas Central School, with the parents, teachers, and alumni who cleaned, cut grasses, and repair classrooms.

In nearby President Quirino Central School in Barangay Poblacion, Pres. Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, the soldiers joined the annual Brigada Eskwela efforts.

“The soldiers’ participation in the Brigada Eskwela highlight the spirit of volunteerism and unity,” he said in a statement.

Elements of the 57th IB joined the same activity in public schools in the towns of Datu Hoffer, Datu Unsay, and Shariff Aguak, all in Maguindanao, on Thursday.

The soldiers helped prepare the school facilities and its environment to become safe and conducive for learning when pupils return to school on June 3.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, has ordered all Army battalions in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and parts of North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur to participate in Brigada Eskwela activities.

Brigada Eskwela, or the National Schools Maintenance Week, is a nationwide initiative by the Department of Education (DepEd) that aims to mobilize the parents, alumni, teachers, civic groups, and students, among others, to volunteer their time and repair skills in preparing school facilities for school opening in June.

This year’s theme is "Matatag na Bayan Para sa Matatag na Paaralan."

BARMM exec lauds performance of peace and order councils

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY — Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Ministry of Local Government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MLG-BARMM) lauded on Wednesday the efforts of provincial peace and order councils in the region for their support in the campaign to fight criminality, illegal drugs, and other unlawful activities.

“We are also calling on everyone to help, in whatever way, to ensure a peaceful and secured community for the development of the region,” Sinarimbo said in a statement.

The official issued the statement during Wednesday’s conduct of the 2018 Peace and Order (POC) performance audit at Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of the BARMM in this city.

The audit was conducted by the five-man Regional Audit Team (RAT) chaired by Sinarimbo with Maj. John Paolo Carracedo of Police Regional Office-BARMM; Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-BARMM Assistant Regional Director Marlon Santos; PDEA-9 and Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi agent Marvin Santos; Civil Service Organization representative Oting Agting; and Butch Malang, head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ceasefire panel, as members.

The audit was aimed at assessing the performance of the local POCs, their functionality, and compliance with existing laws and policies.

Sinarimbo said the audit also sought to determine the best practices conducted and initiated by the POCs and POC Secretariats and their possible interventions and improvement strategies, as well as create a platform for evaluation, assessment, and sharing of best practices between and among POCs and Secretariats.

Sinarimbo explained that there were five pillars of audit criteria that included: Organization, Meetings, Policies/Plan/Budget, Reports, and Innovations.

Lininding Lao, MLG-BARMM assistant secretary, said the creation of the audit teams was in line with the directive of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) national office to ensure efficient performance of the local councils and the programs and activities being undertaken.

The POC performance audit is now in its second year of implementation.

“Last year’s performance audit was strictly for profiling only, however for this year, a mechanism for sanctions and awards will form part of the audit,” Sinarimbo said.

Sinarimbo assured the public that all activities of MLG-BARMM will be transparent and open for public scrutiny.

Peace implementing panels turn over transition plan to BTA

(PR)

COTABATO CITY – The Implementing Panels of the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday turned over in this city their Proposed Transition Plan to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

The plan was officially accepted by BTA Interim Chief Minister Ahod "Murad" Ebrahim, Al Haj.

Ebrahim said the Proposed Transition Plan will serve as a working draft that will be further enhanced by the technical working group (TWG) created by the regional cabinet.

“Subjecting the proposed Transition Plan to a TWG composed of permanent employees can elicit vital learning or lessons in bureaucratic norms, ethics, practices, and experiences," he explained.

The chief minister also thanked the members of the Coordination Team for the Transition (CT4T) to the BTA, as well as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the technical assistance and resources it extended to the BTA.

The Proposed Transition Plan was crafted by the CT4T and submitted to the government and MILF Implementing Panels chaired by Minister Mohagher Iqbal and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Executive Director Gloria Jumamil-Mercado.

The plan includes the critical priority codes that the BTA should legislate, electoral, local government, education, administrative, revenue, and civil service codes.

It is crucial for the codes to be passed into law to provide the necessary structure when crafting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s budget for the next fiscal year, and the usage of the block grant.

Among the main priority programs of the BTA are education, health and sanitation, food security, and environment protection.

In his message, Iqbal said he was very pleased with the achievement of another milestone in the Bangsamoro Peace Process.

He expressed hope that "the chief minister will find it (Proposed Transition Plan) valuable and useful in establishing a government structure that is ethical, inclusive, dutiful to the needs of the constituency it vowed to protect and serve."

"Indeed, the work placed in this plan was inspired by the aspirations of the people in the Bangsamoro, which includes just and lasting peace for generations to come," he added.

For her part, Jumamil-Mercado expressed her gratitude to the CT4T for drafting the transition plan.

"We’d like to express our gratitude to the CT4T who worked tirelessly to come up with a plan that is inclusive and inspired by the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. Let us sustain the gains of peace as we continue to work for peace and development for the Bangsamoro," she said.

In his remarks, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said the proposed plan embodies the parties' commitment to utilize the appropriate processes and mechanisms to ensure the efficient transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government to the BTA.

"We hope that the interest of the people, the reform in the Bangsamoro, and collaborative engagement among various agencies both at the regional and national level(s) be given utmost priority as we implement the transition plan," he said.

Galvez reaffirmed President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong support for the Bangsamoro, as he underscored the national government’s unwavering commitment to implement all signed peace agreements with the various Moro fronts.

"President Duterte wants all stakeholders to help the Bangsamoro. We (OPAPP) are your partner in this journey towards self-determination and development of (the) Bangsamoro not only until 2022 but even beyond. On a personal note, it’s a lifetime crusade. I am and will be your big brother," he said.

Galvez and the members of the government’s Implementing Panel also went to the session of the BTA to observe the parliamentary procedures.

The CT4T GPH representatives were composed of Undersecretary Hernan B. Jumilla (Department of Budget and Management), lawyer Jose I. Lorena (OPAPP), and engineer Baintan Ampatuan (ARMM), and lawyer Krunimar Escudero III (DBM).

On the other hand, the CT4T MILF members were composed of Executive Secretary Esmael Pasigan, engineer Mohajirin Ali, lawyer Sha Elijah Dumama Alba, Abdulmotalib Ismi, and Aragasi S. Mohammad.

The CT4T has already fulfilled its mandate with the submission of the Proposed Transition Plan and will cease to exist.

The body endorsed the plan to the Implementing Panels in Manila last March 26, beating the 60-day deadline as provided in Article XVI, Section 6 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Government, donors spent P21.5 billion for social services in Marawi

By Bernadette D. Nicolas

The national government as well as international agencies have so far spent a total of P21.5 billion for social services for Marawi residents since the start of the siege, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chair Eduardo Del Rosario said on Monday.

Of this amount, P15 billion was spent by the national government for humanitarian work while they have accounted P6.5 billion coming from development partners and other multilateral partners.

Del Rosario, who is also the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council told reporters that the bulk of P15 billion was allocated to Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Remember in 2017, P5 billion was issued for relief assistance and in 2018 P10 billion was allocated by the national government and given to different departments for livelihood, health services..,” he said, noting that this was also the source of the transitory family support package to Marawi residents amounting to P53,000 aside from the P20,000 livelihood settlement grant.

He also said that they have accounted so far about P35.5 billion in Official Development Assistance from different countries, including Spain and Japan.

Broken down, the loan by the government to development partners amounted to P30 billion while grants reached P5.5 billion.

Moreover, Del Rosario once again assured that despite the delays, Marawi reconstruction is still on track to be completed by December 2021.

“We are on track with our timetable, we are now and the debris management started and because of the presence of unexploded explosives and ordinances, we have tapped the Armed Forces of the Philippines experts on this aspect, including the expertise and latest equipment provided by the contractor. So we have given our timetable that clearing will be completed by August 30 of the year, and the demolition of the damaged structures by November 30 of the year. And as well as September of the year, the vertical construction of projects, public infra will commence,” he said.

As for the construction of temporary shelters, Del Rosario said this has been ongoing since last year and they have provided P1,800 temporary shelters.

He added that they will be allowing residents to go back soon to repair their houses and buildings.

“In fact, starting of July of the year, July 30 we will now start allowing the residents to go back in sector one and in August and September and so forth, every moth there’ll be two sectors that will be coming in. the most affected area was divided into 9 sectors. So in July sector 1, 2, 3 will be in August and the last will be on November wherein sectors 8, and 9 will be allowed to come in to repair their destroyed building,” he added.

Out of the total P44,000 families, residents of the most affected area were estimated to be P18,000 families.

However, Del Rosario clarified that these residents cannot yet stay there to live as there is still no water and electricity.

“The water and electricity will soon start construction of the water and electrical facilities by September of the year. So most likely the requirements for water and electricity will be available by the early part of 2020,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier denied a Washington Post report this year describing Marawi City as a “ghost town” more than a year after the 2017 Marawi siege, saying the city is “alive and booming.”

DOST to preserve weaving skills of Marawi IDPs

By Lade Jean Kabagani (LJKabagani/PIA ICCC)

ILIGAN CITY (PIA ICCC) -- To revive the handloom weaving among Maranaos, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) provides technical and financial assistance to the displaced Maranaos following the Marawi siege that happened almost two years ago.

The DOST in partnership with the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology's (MSU-IIT) Maranao Collectible and the local government unit, the project aims to preserve and strengthen the handloom weaving industry, as it represents culture and tradition of Mindanaons especially the Maranaos.

Keno Elumbaring, Project Assistant for DOST-TFBM Programs said the project supports the rebuilding of Maranaos' livelihood.

The beneficiaries include the home-based IDPs currently staying within Iligan City, Cagayan De Oro and other areas of Lanao del Norte.

"This is part of DOST's support to rebuilding and reorganizing the loom weavers affected by the conflict in Marawi City," Elumbaring said.

The target beneficiaries will undergo skills training on weaving and hands-on activities.

DOST will also help in the production and promotion of local hand-woven crafts. A loom weaving equipment will be provided to the beneficiaries including the installation of loom weaving machines in the identified sites.

"DOST will monitor and assess the beneficiaries if they are able to improve and enhance their skills in handloom weaving," Elumbaring added.

The project implementation includes the setting-up of weaving center within selected areas in Marawi City and its neighboring communities, which were also affected by the siege.

The DOST is a member agency of the Task Force Marawi's Subcommittee on Business and Livelihood. It targets to preserve the cultural and artistic value of the weaving industry among Marawi residents.

‘Tibayanihan Crew’ to help rebuild their community in Marawi City

(/dcb, PR)

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Almost two years after the liberation of Marawi City from ISIS-inspired terrorists in October 2017, evacuees from ground zero or the most affected area of the siege still remain displaced in transitional shelters and in other nearby towns. The problem of unemployment and the delay in rebuilding their homes continue to be a challenge.

Some evacuees face difficulties due to the open drainage in Area 1 Transitional Shelter in Sagonsongan, Marawi City.

“Our drainage here remain uncovered since the time it was constructed. We already documented 40 children who accidentally fell in the drain. Some were hospitalized while others were treated at home for minor injuries,” said Saripada L. Pacasum, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer of Lanao del Sur.

Other stakeholders like government agencies and non-government organizations also face difficulties on how to solve the problem.

“There are a lot of needs. Sometimes we get overwhelmed. But we are blessed because we have partners like Republic Cement. We are thinking of ways on how we can help the community and at the same time provide alternative source of livelihood,” said Reynaldo Antonio D. Laguda, Executive Director of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Training the Crew

To address these urgent needs, Republic Cement and PBSP partnered for the project called “Marawi Tibayanihan: Rebuilding Homes for a Stronger Marawi.”

“We are funding the project to train construction workers especially masons to make their work more safe and sound. We call them the Tibayanihan crew. Aside from providing income, we are also helping ensure the steady supply of cement. We are manufacturing a cement called Mindanao. This will be exclusively distributed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City,” said Renato C. Sunico, president of Republic Cement & Building Materials Inc.

The Tibayanihan crew who were trained on carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical wiring, welding and masonry, will be engaged in the rehabilitation of homes in Barangays Bubonga and Raya Saduc and the covering of drainage in Area 1 Transitional Community.

“The project trained us on how to build stronger homes that are structurally sound and on how to be safe at work. They provided us personal protective equipment like hard hats, gloves, boots and shirts. I am happy because I can now repair my house and my neighbors’ homes. Aside from helping, the project will provide an opportunity for us to earn for the services that we will render. We are also excited for TESDA certification because it will prepare us for bigger construction projects” said Dimard Fahad, trained Tibayanihan crew from Barangay Raya Saduc, Marawi City.

“This is a good start for the Tibayanihan crew. The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) will take note of this. Our Building and Reconstruction Team could possibly hire them in case we need more workers,” said Professor Mary Joy Yuson, Executive Assistant representing TFBM Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, Jr.

The Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur also showed interest to help and include them in their pool of skilled workers.

“Tibayanihan came from two words. Tibay means strong. While bayanihan means helping each other. In order to recover, we need to be durable in terms of our trust to others and our faith to Allah. We cannot do this alone. We need everyone’s help,” said Laguda.

“Helping our fellow Maranaos rebuild their lives redounds to building a stronger Republic,” adds Sunico.

First lady governor of Maguindanao proclaimed

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has proclaimed outgoing Mayor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu of Datu Abdullah Sangki town as the governor-elect of Maguindanao province on Thursday afternoon.

Sangki-Mangudadatu made history as the first-ever lady governor of the 46-year-old province after winning over his closest rival, Freddie Mangudadatu, by more than 54,000 votes in the province’s 36 municipalities during the May 13 mid-term polls.

“From now on, the welfare of the people of Maguindanao always come first before anything else,” she said when interviewed by reporters here following her proclamation.

The lady governor-elect is the wife of Governor-elect Suharto Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat province, who is the cousin of Freddie Mangudadatu, the outgoing mayor of Mangudadatu town in Maguindanao.

The Comelec’s Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC), which held the 4 p.m. proclamation at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the seat of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao here, said Sangki-Mangudadatu garnered a total of 256,338 votes to clinch the gubernatorial post as against Freddie’s 201,565 votes.

Also proclaimed were Datu Lester Sinsuat as vice governor-elect of Maguindanao and Datu Ronnie Sinsuat as Congressman-elect of the province’s first district.

Hours earlier on the same day, the PBOC correspondingly proclaimed outgoing Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu as the Congressman-elect of the province’s second district together with his son, King Jazer, as board member for the same provincial district.

Republic Cement helps rebuild Marawi City

By Roderick Abad

Local cement manufacturer Republic Cement is targeting to assist 146 Maranao families displaced by the Marawi siege in rebuilding their homes via a project it is undertaking with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and other firms.

Dubbed “Marawi Tibayanihan: Rebuilding Homes for a Stronger Marawi,” the project, which was launched this month, seeks to help households in three communities in Marawi City.

A total of 44 families in Barangays Raya Saduc and Bubonga will gain from home repair or rehabilitation. Each of them will benefit from a grant for the construction materials, after an assessment of the condition of their homes and the required repairs.

Republic Cement & Building Materials Inc. President Renato C. Sunico said in a statement that the firm will ensure the steady supply of cement needed for housing.

“We are manufacturing cement called Mindanao. This will be exclusively distributed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City,” he said of the company’s blended cement Type 1P conforming to both PNS 63 and ASTM C595.

Ideal for general concrete applications, this construction material will be bought directly from hardware stores and retailers in the war-torn city.

Families who do not have the capacity to pay for labor and materials were prioritized. Under the program, the “Tibayanihan Crew” will render labor services to each beneficiary-family. “We are funding the project to train construction workers, especially masons, to make their work more safe and sound,” Sunico said.

The recruits are victims of the Marawi siege. They were given protective gears and trained in carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical wiring, welding and masonry.

“I am happy because I can now repair my house and my neighbors’ homes. Aside from helping, the project will provide an opportunity for us to earn for the services that we will render,” said Dimard Fahad, trained Tibayanihan crew from Barangay Raya Saduc.

“We are also excited for Tesda [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] certification because it will prepare us for bigger construction projects,” he added.

With their acquired skills, the building and reconstruction team of the Task Force Bangon Marawi could employ them if needed. Also, the provincial government of Lanao del Sur showed interest to help and include them in its pool of skilled workers.

The project will also involve the construction of a drainage cover Area 1 Transitional Shelter in Sagonsongan. It is expected to benefit some 102 families.

“Our drainage here remains uncovered since the time it was constructed. We already documented 40 children who accidentally fell in the drain. Some were hospitalized while others were treated at home for minor injuries,” said Saripada L. Pacasum, provincial disaster-risk reduction management officer of Lanao del Sur.

BARMM’s 2018 GRDP 2nd highest in Mindanao

By Antonio L. Colina IV (MindaNews)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – The gross regional domestic product of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) of 7.2% in 2018, the second strongest next to Davao Region’s 8.6%, suggests better economic opportunities for the region under the new governance structure, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) deputy executive director Romeo Montenegro said on last Friday.

“The relatively high economic growth rate demonstrated by the Bangsamoro is an indication of better things to come in the region especially with a new governance structure,” he said.

The successful and peaceful transition from ARMM to BARMM after the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) would increase investors’ interest for the region, Montenegro said.

“These are very interesting things to watch out for in the Bangsamoro in the next few years,” he said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the BARMM’s output, although lower compared with the 7.5% registered in 2017, was the fourth highest in the country. Bicol registered the highest at 8.9% while Caraga the lowest at 3.2%.

Montenegro said Mindanao’s output expanded by 7.1% in 2018, surpassing the national average of 6.2%. Services, agriculture, and industry sectors ramped up Mindanao’s growth, he noted.

He said agriculture performed well in 2018, growing by 2.5% in 2018 from 0.9% in 2017.

“This is what we’ve always been pointing out that every time there is an instance in Mindanao where agriculture is able to demonstrate an uptick rate or growth it generally pushed up Mindanao’s overall economy because remember, 40% of Mindanao’s contributions is related to agriculture, 60% of Mindanao’s GDP is related to agriculture,” he said.

Montenegro acknowledged the need to pour in more infrastructure projects in Caraga to drive the growth of the region.

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