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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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BTA chief: New admin to work for ill-free gov’t

(PIA Cotabato City)

COTABATO CITY (PIA) -- The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) headed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairperson Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as interim chief minister assured that the newly-established Bangsamoro government will be free from “ills of governance.”

The statement was made Tuesday (Feb 26) during the turnover of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the Bangasamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

"We will also take oath to Allah over the Quran, this is to ensure to you that we will work for a government that will really be free of all the ills of governance," Murad said.

Murad was recently appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte along with the 80 members of the BTA, taking their oath at a ceremony in Malacañang, days before the turnover.

In his acceptance speech, Murad underscored the incoming government's agenda that will focus on health, education, economic development, strategic infrastructure, and moral leadership.

"Our government shall take responsibility for the education of our children. Our government shall take responsibility for the health of our constituents. Our government shall take responsibility of the economic development of our region. Our government shall take responsibility for the infrastructure development of our areas,”Murad said.

He added that "now that the government that we have long dreamed has finally established, the trust and responsibility is now in our hands. We are accountable to it, to Allah, and to our fellow Bangsamoro."

Outgoing ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman called on all Moro and non-Moro people to support the new Bangsamoro government.

"I have my full support to the 80 members of the BTA. I hope you will support the BTA and the interim chief just like what you did during my stint," Hataman said.

Meanwhile, the following have been named to serve different posts in the new Bangsamoro government: Engr. Edward Guerra, Minister of Budget and Finance; Dr. Zafrullah Dipatuan, Minister of Health; Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister of Interior and Local Governance; Atty. Raisa Jajurie, Minister Social Service; Timuay Melanio Ulama, Minister of Indigenous Affairs; Mohagher Iqbal, Minister of Education; Mohammad Yacon, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture; Abdulrauf Macacua, Minister of Environment; Murad Ebrahim, Minister of Public Works and Highways; and Hussein Munoz, Minister of Public Order and Safety.

The BTA will govern the Bangsamoro during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022, when the first set of BARMM officials have been elected.

ARMM posts lower employment rate

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted an employment rate of 93.7% in January 2019, lower compared to 97.4% recorded in the same period of last year, according to the results of the January 2019 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on Thursday.

The ARMM had been replaced by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after majority of its population voted in favor of the ratification of the Re­public Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) in a plebiscite last January 21 and February 6.

The latest em­ployment figure of the ARMM was the lowest among Min­danao’s six regions and the second low­est in the Philippines. The National Capital Region had the low­est at 93.6% while the highest was 96.9% of the Cagayan Valley.

The ARMM reg­istered a labor force participation rate (LFPR) of 47.7%, the lowest in the Phil­ippines, given the population 15 years old and over of 2.44 million as of January 2019.

The Northern Mindanao posted the highest employment rate at 95.8% in Mind­anao; Davao Region, 95.5%; Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsk­sargen, 95.4%; and Caraga, 94.1%.

Based on the preliminary results of the Annual Labor and Employment Estimates for 2018 of the Philippine Statistics Author­ity (PSA), the ARMM’s employment rate of 96.3% for the entire 2018 was the highest in Mindanao.

The country’s employment rate in Janu­ary 2019 was estimated at 94.8%, slightly high­er compared to 94.7% recorded in the same period last year. The survey found the LFPR in the country was 60.2% given the population 15 years old and over of 72.95 million.

Workers in the services sector comprised the largest proportion of the employed popu­lation at 58.1%; agriculture sector, 22.1%; and industry sector, 19.7%.

Basilan marks 45th founding anniversary

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr. (PNA)

ZAMBOANGA CITY--The provincial government of Basilan highlighted the cultural and economic value of weaved Yakan cloth as the province celebrated Thursday its 45th founding anniversary.

Basilan Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Saliman told the Philippine News Agency that the celebration put a spotlight on the weaved Yakan cloth as it is the greatest heritage of the province.

Saliman said they added the word “Tennun” to promote the identity of Basilan and to signify the province's achievements in terms of peace and development. "Tennun" generally means woven cloth used in making the Yakan dress.

Anchored on the theme “Tennun…Weaving Diverse Culture for Peace and Inclusive Growth," the celebration culminated at the Isabela City Grandstand following a parade of participants wearing Yakan cloth.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, highlighted the improved peace and order condition of Basilan compared to the situation 21 years ago when he was assigned in the province.

Dela Vega represented National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the keynote speaker who was not able to attend due to an important appointment in Manila.

“We can see a big difference between before and now because of the development that is undertaken by the local government in terms of political, social and economic environment,” dela Vega said.

“You can count us in all you endeavors to ensure a brighter and better future of Basilan,” he added.

Saliman said this year’s "Pakarajaan", merrymaking in the local dialect, calls “for what is happening today and the previous ones”.

The different municipalities also showcased theatrical performances depicting their cultural values and traditions.

“We are celebrating the pride and culture of all the Basileños not only of the majority Yakans but also the Tausugs, the Christians called Chabacanos, and Sama who are inhabitants of this province,” Saliman said.

Saliman is the elder brother of former Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared March 7 as special non-working day in Basilan to provide an opportunity to the residents to celebrate the founding anniversary of the province.

5th Maguindanao town declared ‘drug-cleared’

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-ARMM) has declared the town of Datu Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao as “drug-cleared”.

The town is the fifth municipality to be declared "drug-cleared" in the province as well as the entire region.

“The persistent coordination of town officials of Datu Abdullah Sangki to the PDEA–ARMM to rid their place of illegal drugs has given them this remarkable commendation,” Marlon Santos, PDEA-ARMM officer-in-charge, said in a statement Thursday.

Only recently, the provincial oversight committee gave its final nod to declare the town’s 10 villages as drug-cleared after the concluding evaluation of its two far-flung villages--Old Maganoy and Madanding.

“The fight against prohibited drugs in this town would unceasingly continue in support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to rid our country of the social menace,” Mayor Bai Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu said during a local radio interview Friday.

In 2018, the PDEA-ARMM has also declared the towns of Pandag, Shariff Aguak, Paglat and Kabuntalan, all in Maguindanao, as cleared of illegal drugs, peddlers, and drug dependents.

PRO-BARMM honors wounded cops in Lanao Sur clashes

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM) on Sunday honored police officers wounded during a recent law enforcement operation in Lanao del Sur.

Brig. Gen. Graciano Mijares, PRO-BARMM director, pinned the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting to wounded police officers during simple ceremonies at Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City.

Mijares said the wounded policemen are now recuperating from gunshot wounds after trading shots with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) elements in Madamba, Lanao del Sur, last April 4 in an operation gone haywire.

They are identified as Police Captains Glen Lyca Gevero and Mark Harry Boglosa, Sergeants Marlon Panitan, Magno Olete; and Niño Cadano; Corporals Ronald Rosco and Omar Masakal; and Patrolman Arnel Montallanac. Each received a merit medal in recognition of their gallantry in the performance of police duties.

Speaking to reporters, Mijares said PNP-BARMM officials are also now studying the possibility of promoting to one rank higher all the eight wounded cops.

Policemen were to serve warrants against four wanted persons in Barangay Ilian, Madamba, when the suspects resisted arrest and resulted to a shootout.

The four wanted persons were killed but relatives of those slain connected with the MILF in the area retaliated, wounding eight police personnel in the process. Both the government and MILF coordinating peace panels are investigating the incident.

2K indigent patients get health services in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – An estimated 2,000 poor patients from Maguindanao’s 36 towns have so far benefitted from the ongoing massive four-day provincial health office program, being held in Shariff Aguak town.

Dubbed as “Gamutan Pangkalahatan Alay sa Bangsamoro ‘Yes’ to Kalusugan,” the program - which started Tuesday and will end Friday - is being spearheaded by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) – Maguindanao, headed by Dr. Tahir Sulaik, at the provincial hospital compound in Shariff Aguak.

Sulaik said they are targeting as much as 5,000 patients during the duration of the program.

“Physicians from the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City and volunteer doctors from Cotabato City; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; and Tacurong City have joined us in this program,” Sulaik told reporters in an interview Wednesday.

Services offered include free operation for hernia, abdominal mass, breast mass, cyst, goiter, cleft lip and palate, head and neck mass, tumor, fractured bones, ligation, vasectomy, cataract operation, dental services, mass blood glucose determination, eye examination and surgery for pterygium and cancer screening, free pap smear, laboratory services, x-ray and ultrasound, general consultation and screening, and a blood-letting activity.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, also led the opening on Tuesday of the new out-patient department building and the newly-built mosque inside the hospital premises.

“Also, some of the patients have received wheelchairs from the governor,” Sulaik said.

Japan, ILO ink $2.6-M Bangsamoro water supply project

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (PNA)

MANILA -- More households in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will soon have access to safe and potable water through a USD2.6 million-worth project that will build a community-based water supply in the region.

On Wednesday, the Japanese government and the International Labor Organization (ILO) inked a deal that would aid in the construction of water supply and recovery systems in the region using local workforce.

The initiative is expected to benefit over 1,800 workers and at least 12,000 households in the conflict-affected areas.

"I look forward to seeing more households in the Bangsamoro region gain better access to potable water, averting vulnerabilities to water-borne diseases caused by unsafe sources," Ambassador Koji Haneda said during the signing ceremony.

"Aside from making optimum use of these water infrastructure, I hope the beneficiaries will also find opportunities for decent work and better living conditions through this project with the ILO," he added.

Khalid Hassan, director of ILO Philippines, said the project would serve as "one of the centerpieces" for ILO's centenary "as interventions in the Bangsamoro areas are meant to create jobs" while advocating the decent work agenda.

"Using a peace lens, the project will reach out to returning combatants, vulnerable youth, indigenous peoples, and men and women displaced and vulnerable to conflict," he added.

In the ARMM, only 53 percent of families have access to safe water-- lower than the national average of 85 percent, based on the 2016 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

PDEA-ARMM nabs HVT drug suspect, seizes P340K shabu

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Anti-narcotic agents nabbed a high-value target (HVT) drug personality from Maguindanao province and seized from the suspect some PHP340,000 worth of illegal drugs during a buy-bust operation here Tuesday.

Marlon Santos, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-ARMM), identified the arrested suspect as Samin Agao Kusain alias Hussain Samin Agao, 36, former village secretary of Barangay Katidtuan, Kabuntalan, Maguindanao.

Santos said Agao was collared following a 3:30 p.m. deal with a poseur-buyer at the corner of Don Rufino Alonzo Street and Quezon Avenue in this city.

Agao yielded 50 grams of shabu with an estimated street value of PHP340,000; a wallet containing six identification documents, a mobile phone, and the marked money, the PDEA-ARMM officer said.

“An accomplice of the suspect identified as Noriza Ako alias ‘Bai’ managed to elude arrest,” he added.

Charges for violation of RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) are being readied against the suspect who is now detained at the PDEA-ARMM custodial facility at Pedro Colina Hill in this city.

ARMM emergency response unit in limbo

By John Unson (The Philippine Star)

COTABATO CITY , Philippines — Uncertainty hounds the contingent that served five million people in disaster and conflict response operations while under the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Personnel of the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) yesterday held what was for them their last staff meeting.

They are unsure if the regional parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will retain their multi-awarded humanitarian outfit.

The HEART, established in 2013 by then ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman, is comprised of rescuers and medical responders trained to serve even in extremely hostile and uncontrolled environments.

Many HEART workers also underwent extensive schooling on offshore rescue operations in the special military training school of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the largest military unit in central Mindanao.

HEART information officer Myrna Jocelyn Henry said they are now ready to turn over their office and well documented equipment outlay to BARMM’s chief minister, Hadji Murad Ebrahim.

Ebrahim, chairman of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is the appointed head of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that would manage the BARMM pending the election of its first set of officials in 2022.

Hataman turned over to Ebrahim the ARMM government last Tuesday to pave the way for its replacement with an MILF-led BARMM.

HEART personnel said they are still waiting for a written memorandum from Ebrahim on whether to move out or stay for possible retention.

“We have prepared for this. Our former regional governor, Mujiv Hataman, supported the creation of BARMM so we also voted for the ratification of the law that created it, the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” said a Moro rescuer.

Hataman said he is hoping the BTA will retain the HEART.

“These workers have proven their dedication to serve even in difficult situations. Their trainings and field work experience would just go to waste. Just the same, it’s really up to the BTA, whose governance initiatives I shall support to the best I can,” Hataman said.

Besides having provided residents of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi with relief services over the past five years, the HEART also aided evacuees from villages in Tacloban and Leyte in the Visayas that were hit by a powerful storm more than two years ago.

Murad leads first BARMM flag-raising ceremony

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

SHARIFF KABUNSUAN COMPLEX, Cotabato City – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim led here Monday other regional officials for BARMM’s first-ever flag-raising ceremony at the complex of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Murad stood at attention as he sang the “Lupang Hinirang” national anthem together with the other BARMM ministerial officials and some 500 employees at the grounds fronting the BARMM administrative building here.

“This is the first time that I, as your Chief Minister, and the members of the Interim Cabinet, have joined you in this flag-raising ceremony,” Murad said in his speech following the hoisting of the Philippine flag.

He noted that the new regional set up is in the very early stage of the transition process, and brings with it some elements of fear, doubt, and resistance.

“Maybe the most frequently asked question among yourselves could be, what would happen to us now?” he said, adding that consistent with his earlier statements, the employees’ status in the BARMM would be determined by the nature of their appointments.

“That is, for the permanent (employees): you remain in your posts until the Bangsamoro Transition Authority has finally adopted the transition plan, which shall contain the organizational plan as well as the schedule for the implementation thereof,” Murad said.

For those holding contracts of service, he said the BARMM would honor such contract in general, but a review of the nature of the job and performance shall also be made.

“For those co-terminus, I know that you are also aware that your service has to end simultaneous with the end of the term of the one who appointed you,” he stressed.

Murad told the BARMM workers to prepare for some snags in the coming months as there would be adjustments in the administrative, fiscal, organizational, legal, and relational matters to be resolved during the transition process.

“My only request to you, fellow workers of the BARMM, is cooperation. I truly understand your concern for your careers, but somehow we have to start this overhauling of the regional government,” he said.

Murad said a ministerial form of government would be established, necessitating bureaucratic changes, that is, changes in structures, processes and even people.

“We have to remember that the constitutional provisions on the creation of our autonomous region are grounded on the history of the struggle of our people for, among other things, the opportunity to improve their lives and their communities,” he said.

BARMM leaders to get P31 billion from budget

By Jezz Diaz With Delon Porcalla, John Unson, Jose Rodel Clapano, Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will administer the new autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao for three years will inherit operational funds of more than P31 billion this year.

The amount is the funding level President Duterte has recommended in his proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Senate and the House of Representatives have retained the amount.

On Tuesday, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman turned over leadership of the regional government to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim, who heads the transition body that will run the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Hataman was expected to make a detailed accounting of the funds, personnel, equipment and other assets ARMM is entrusting to BARMM.

In his still-to-be-enacted proposed budget for this year, the President allocated a total of P31.117 billion to ARMM divided as P13.4 billion for salaries, P4.659 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses and P13.059 billion for capital outlay, the bulk of which is for infrastructure projects.

The allocation for salaries is huge because of thousands of public school teachers under the region’s education department.

The ARMM outlay is further distributed into 12 expense classes: P236 million for regional legislation; P1.278 billion for regional autonomy administration and finance resources management; P40.3 million for peace, law and order, and human rights protection and promotion; P629.6 million for agriculture, fishery and land reform; P56.1 million for employment and industrial peace; and P147.1 million for trade, industry and investment development.

Some P11.2 billion goes to education, science and technology, and P10.8 billion to roads and public infrastructure facilities.

Ebrahim, as concurrent minister of public works and highways, and Mohaguer Iqbal, as education minister, will oversee the expenditure of the largest budgetary allocations for the new autonomous region.

The remaining expense classes and their funding are P1.5 billion for health and nutrition, P157 million for social welfare and protection, P67.5 million for transportation and communications, P33.2 million for environment conservation and management and human settlement.

The projects, programs and activities to be funded under the 12 expense classifications are all detailed in the ARMM budget.

The regional government is required to approve a budget plan and follow procurement laws and regulations.

Some previous Muslim officials are facing criminal charges for alleged misuse of the autonomous region’s funds.

Funding for ARMM more than doubled under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III and Hataman’s leadership of the region.

A lawmaker said Islamic banks are crucial to the Bangsamoro’s development as an independent region.

Leyte Rep. Henry Ong, chairman of the committee on banks and financial intermediaries of the House of Representatives, said it would be best for the BTA to lobby for the measure crucial for the region’s economy.

“To boost the economy of the BARMM, I express the hope that the proposed Islamic Banking law be prioritized immediately after Congress reconvenes post-May elections,” he said.

“Aside from the national budgetary support and foreign grants, new investments are needed in Northern Mindanao and BARMM. Having more investment flows through Islamic banks and expanded financial inclusion will further spur economic activity,” Ong said.

Ong explained Islamic banks will allow private investors and governments in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and parts of Africa to engage business in the BARMM.

He said Islamic banks will act as financial conduits, advisors and depositary institutions.

Good governance to reign in BARMM: BTA chief

By EJ Roque (PNA)

MANILA – Good governance will be delivered in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim administrator of the newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim Al Haj promised on Tuesday.

Murad, recently appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as the interim Chief Minister of the BARMM, vowed to eradicate the culture of corruption and sustain the gains of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

"The trust and responsibility is now in our hands. We are accountable to it, to Allah, and our fellow Bangsamoro," he said in a ceremonial handover event at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex inside the ARMM compound in Cotabato City.

Murad said the Bangsamoro people are now entering a new struggle, which is to instill the culture of good governance in the autonomous region.

"Our enemy during this struggle is not the soldiers. Our enemy is not the government. Our enemy is oppression, our enemy is exploitation, our enemies are those anti-people," Murad said.

"We are now entering another level of Jihad. Our Jihad will be more intense and more challenging. Our Jihad, firstly, will be against our own self. Our enemy is graft and corruption. Our enemy is manipulation of the government. Our enemy is nepotism. Our enemy is all those ills of the government," he added.

Murad cited the interim government’s main agenda that would ensure the delivery of services to the Moro and non-Moro people residing in the BARMM.

"Our government shall take responsibility for the education of our children. Our government shall take responsibility for the health of our constituents. Our government shall take responsibility for the economic development of our region. Our government shall take responsibility for the infrastructure development of our areas. I shall be responsible for leading a morally upright bureaucracy," he said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said he is confident that the BTA members can fulfill their mandate since they are people with "sincerity, dedication, and commitment in pushing for the realization of the Bangsamoro aspirations".

Galvez urged the BTA to "work for the common good of the Bangsamoro people".

"The bottom line here is to bring good governance through clean governmental transaction. This will show our sincerity to provide the needed services that the people in the Bangsamoro truly deserve," Galvez said in a speech.

Galvez emphasized the significance of unity in diversity, urging the new leadership to work together as a team.

"Just like a rainbow, it is composed of different hues. Each color is uniquely beautiful and has a special purpose. It is reflective of the various tribes and beliefs that co-exist in the Bangsamoro homeland. But we can only maximize its beauty and power if we work harmoniously and collectively," he said.

Immediately after the ceremonial handover, the new Bangsamoro government hit the ground running as Murad presided a Cabinet meeting to set the direction and focus of the new administration.

Another meeting was set on Wednesday to identify the parliament's priorities for the next 100 days, which include the establishment of the key legislative structures such as Electoral, Local Government, Education, Administrative, Revenue, and Civil Service Codes.

Prior to Tuesday’s event, Murad met with Galvez and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Yusop Jikiri to discuss issues that need to be resolved to ensure a seamless transition. Among them is the status of ARMM employees.

"We agreed that there will be no retrenchment. All employees, except those who are co-terminus, will be retained until the end of the year," Galvez said.

Galvez echoed Duterte's guidance to put a premium on the welfare of the Bangsamoro and every Filipino.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said he is elated at bowing down from the office since he is leaving a more developed ARMM.

"Iiwan natin ang rehiyon nang mas malakas, mas maunlad (We will be leaving the region stronger, more developed)," he said emotionally.

ARMM's economic growth has improved in recent years. In 2017, its gross regional domestic product had its peak in history with 12.1 percent, making it the fastest in the country. Its employment rate also surged at 97.4 percent last year.

The BARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The autonomous region's territory has expanded to include the city of Cotabato and 63 villages in North Cotabato province following the plebiscites in these areas.

The establishment of the BARMM is the result of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law -- the legal document operationalizing the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, including all the previous peace agreements that the government has entered into with the Moro fronts.

Duterte earlier described the new BARMM as a realization of everyone's dream to end the armed struggle in Mindanao.

MILF chief assumes gov't post as BARMM chief

By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is now officially a government official after he assumed on Tuesday the leadership of the expanded autonomous region in southern Philippines.

In a turn-over ceremony, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim assumed the top post of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center here.

The historic event was witnessed by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and more than 5,000 Bangsamoro people.

Hataman turned over his post to Ebrahim, including the assets and liabilities of the regional bureaucracy. After which, the outgoing governor delivered an emotional farewell speech.

“Let us now unite, do away with tribalism, Muslims, Christians and (Indigenous Peoples), let us all unite now under this Bangsamoro government,” a teary-eyed Hataman said in his speech.

The BARMM is the result of more than 20 years of peace negotiations between Manila and the MILF. After assuming the post, Ebrahim announced some of his regional cabinet members who will help him run the affairs of the new political entity.

Ebrahim assured ARMM civil government workers that they shall remain in office in the meantime but those who are co-terminus with the elected officials may go.

“All those in the bureaucracy will remain intact,” Ebrahim said as the current ARMM employees who feared of losing jobs when the new leaders assume office lauded his statement.

Ebrahim said the new government will be inaugurated next month, as the first session of the BARMM parliament will also take place in March. Ebrahim, in a concurrent capacity, would be BARMM’s Minister of Public Works and Highways. Other appointees include Architect Eduard Guerra, Minister of Finance, Budget and Management; Atty. Raissa Jajurie, Minister of Social Services;

Mohagher Iqbal, Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education; Dr. Zafrullah Dipatuan, Minister of Health; Timuay Melanio Ulama, Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs; Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister of Local Government; Abdoraof Macacua, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Mohammad Suwaib Yacob, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform; and Hussein Munoz, Minister of Public Order and Safety.

NHA turns over 'transitory shelters' to 206 Marawi families

By Divina Suson (PNA)

MARAWI CITY--The National Housing Authority (NHA) turned over 550 units of transitory shelters in Barangay Boganga here Thursday.

The first batch of beneficiaries, consisting of 206 families, lost their homes during the five-month war between government forces and the Maute-ISIS terrorist group that began on May 23, 2017.

They moved in to their assigned units immediately after the turnover ceremony while the remaining shelters will eventually be occupied by the beneficiaries identified by the local government unit of Marawi while the NHA continues to build more.

Called the Lake View Shelter, the transitory relocation site in Boganga is the second temporary relocation site for the displaced families, particularly those from the 250-hectare most affected area (MAA), who have stayed in the different evacuation centers in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur since the start of the Marawi siege.

The first one is the Bahay ng Pagbabago in Barangay Sagonsongan where the government built 1,052 temporary shelters that are already being occupied by the beneficiaries.

Located inside the Sagonsongan is the Angat Buhay Village, initiated by Vice President Leni Robredo's Angat Buhay Foundation, consisting of 60 housing units.

The NHA said 1,500 transitory shelter units will be built in Boganga and Sagonsongan before March this year, and about 300 additional units will be turned over to the next batch of beneficiaries.

"Tuloy-tuloy po ang pagbibigay namin ng (transitory shelter) units hanggang sa ma-occupy ang 550 units, at sa darating na Marso ay muli kaming magbubukas at magtu-turn over ng 250 to 300 units pa po para sa mga kapatid nating nasa mga evacuation centers pa (We will continue to turn over transitory shelters until all 550 units are occupied, and by March we plan to open another 250 to 300 units for families still living in evacuation shelters)," said NHA Director Roderick Ibañez.

Started in August last year, the housing agency finished the first 550 units in less than five months.

Salima Ampaso, a former resident of Barangay Datu Naga inside the MAA, said she was relieved when she was included in the first batch to receive transitory housing in Boganga.

"Mainit sa evacuation center, wala kang privacy. Di ka makagalaw para maghanapbuhay dahil walang magbabantay sa tent mo, sa anak mo dahil nag-alala ka sa safety niya (It is hot in evacuation shelters, there's no privacy. You can't move to find a living because no one will watch over the tent, and you worry about your child's safety)," she said.

Although it took almost two years before she and her fellow evacuees to be relocated, Ampaso said it was worth the wait.

Task Force Bangon Marawi explained that it prioritized those who are still living in the evacuation centers outside Marawi City to be transferred to transitory shelters.

Ibañez said about 800 families are still living in the evacuation centers, some of them in the Sarimanok tents in Barangay Poblacion.

Jan. 21 special non-working day in ARMM, 2 other cities

By Azer Parrocha (PNA)

MANILA -- Malacañang has declared Jan. 21, 2019 (Monday), a special non-working day in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Isabela City, and Cotabato City for the plebiscite of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by authority of the President, signed Proclamation No. 646 on Jan. 10, 2019 but it was released to media on Jan. 17 (Thursday).

Medialdea signed the proclamation to allow the residents an opportunity to participate in the plebiscite and exercise their right to vote.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed anew that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will be attending a big rally on Jan. 18 in Cotabato City to appeal to the people to vote for the ratification of the BOL.

“It will push through as scheduled. The President will go there tomorrow and make a pitch for the ratification,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“You must remember that the President (is) in favor of the BOL so it’s just logical for someone who is in favor of a particular idea to make a pitch for it,” he added.

Earlier, Panelo described the President’s voice as a “powerful influence” for the ratification of the measure which seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace ARMM.

However, he said that ultimately, it is the people’s call to decide whether they will vote for the ratification of the BOL or not.

Duterte signed the BOL, or Republic Act 11054, on July 26, 2018 seeking to grant wider self-rule to predominantly Muslim provinces and cities in southern Philippines.

ARMM inaugurates P20-M projects in Basilan

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr

LAMITAN CITY, Basilan -- The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Wednesday inaugurated some PHP20 million worth of projects in this city.

The projects, consisting of two buildings worth PHP10 million each, were constructed at the 10-hectare Basilan government center in Barangay Sta. Clara, this city.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who led the inauguration, said the two projects are aimed at improving the delivery of services of the Basilan Schools Division and Lamitan City Schools Division.

Norhaya Abdurahim, Basilan Schools Division superintendent, said they will occupy the two newly-constructed buildings before the end of January.

Abdurahim, on behalf of the two school divisions, expressed gratitude to the regional government and all concerned stakeholders “for the efforts extended in the realization of the two projects.”

The buildings were constructed by the District Engineer’s Office of ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways headed by Engr. Soler Undug.

The inauguration was witnessed by Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman, Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay and other government officials. (PNA)

Disaster risk reduction training held in Maguindanao

By Francis Wakefield

The Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion (40th IB), in partnership with the government of Radjah Buayan led by its mayor Zamzamin L. Ampatuan, conducted an Inter-agency Disaster Risk Reduction Office (DRRO) Training Exercise at its headquarters in Barangay Zapakan, Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao, over the weekend.

The participants were 69 members of the Magiting Inter Agency Task Force coming from the four municipalities of Radjah Buayan, Sultan Sa Barongis, Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona Mustapha all of Maguindanao.

Part of the program was the competition to ensure that they learn from the lectures on different kinds of bandaging of wounds/fractures; reviving a victim using Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR); high angle and low angle rescue; and, the different ways of carrying a patient.

Prizes worth P10, 000 for the first prize; P8, 000 for the second prize, P5, 000 for the third prize and P2, 000 for the fourth prize, were given to the winners.

The said training aimed to address the impact of disasters and climate change at various levels that has made significant strides in the implementation of disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning and activities.

Lt. Col. Edfgar Catu, Commanding Officer of the 40th IB, mentioned during the opening ceremony that the knowledge and skills that they will acquire would be very important so that they will be able to respond to disasters or calamities and save lives.

Army 6th Infantry Divisiom Commander Major General Cirilito E. Sobejana, Commander, on the other hand, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been a primary responder during disasters and has been deployed frequently to several disaster relief operations in Central Mindanao.

“However, it is overwhelming if other agencies will help hand-in-hand in terms of natural and man-made disaster,” Sobejana said.

DA in Lanao del Sur tops agri achievers in ARMM

(DA Lanao del Sur/PIA10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM) gathered its officials and employees from all over the region on Jan. 6 to celebrate its milestone in 2018.

The event dubbed "Pakaradjaan sa DAF-ARMM" was aimed to honor employees who have made great contributions in the attainment of the agency’s goals and objectives.

One of the highlights of the event was the awarding of the 2018 Agricultural Achievers where DA Lanao del Sur bagged numerous awards.

DA Lanao del Sur Chief Pangalian Balindong, Jr. received the Top Performing Provincial Agricultural Officer (PAO) of ARMM.

Other achievers include Marilou G. Sopocado, Top Performing High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) Coordinator; Raina B. Sembrano, Top Performing Corn Coordinator; Engr. Papala F. Lawanza, Top Performing Organic Agriculture Coordinator; Mariam Naik, Top Performing Municipal Agricultural Officer (MAO); Raisoli A. Muzor and Camalia Disalongan, Top Performing Agriculture Extension Workers; and Dr. Alfreda E. Te, Achiever Awardee in the field of information.

Certificates were also awarded to MAO Toribio L. Pingol, MAO Casad C. Ayo-on, Agriculture Technologist Salman M. Faisal, Planning Officer Shalini B. Plawan, Daud Diapar (Livestock Coordinator), Naga M. Tucalo (Rice Coordinator) and PAFC Coordinator Monatampar Bandera.

During the event, DAF-ARMM Sec. Alexander G. Alonto thanked all the employees for their hard work which contributed to the betterment of the department.

He also encouraged everyone to serve even better in the upcoming Bangsamoro government.

Other highlights of the Pakaradjaan included the launching of the DAF-ARMM Agricultural Profile and a cultural show from the different participants.

P20B earned in 6 years: MILF hopes to sustain ARMM investment gains

By Bong S. Sarmiento (MindaNews)

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 Jan) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hopes to sustain the investment generated by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the last six years pegged at P20 billion.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said that sustaining investors’ confidence in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) can be achieved by employing the concept of “inclusive business model.”

Such business model, while for profit, will benefit the poor or low income communities not through charitable acts but through their inclusion in business operations, he said.

“[These business operations] will provide them livelihood essential to build a dignified society,” Murad said in a message to a recent business forum in Cotabato City.

The MILF chief vowed to adopt the Business Sustainability Framework in the Bangsamoro (BSFB), which was initiated by the ARMM Regional Board of Investment (ARMM-RBOI) and anchored on the inclusive business model, in attracting new investments to the BARMM.

The Australian government-funded Brokering Business Investments in the Bangsamoro to Achieve Inclusive Development and Growth or BRIDGe project enabled the crafting of the BSFP.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman expressed confidence the new Bangsamoro region can build on the gains of the existing 28-year-old autonomous Muslim region.

Citing data from the ARMM-RBOI from 2012 to 2018, Hataman, ARMM’s seventh governor, said the region accumulated investments worth P20 billion that generated 15,000 jobs.

ARMM straddles the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Maguindanao is the region’s top investment destination, bagging P14.8 billion or 74 percent of the approved ventures in the region from 2012 to 2018, regional government data showed.

Some companies in Maguindanao are producing and exporting Cavendish banana to China, Japan and the Middle East.

Hataman believed the future “will remain bright” for the Bangsamoro people under the new political entity, as he called on voters to participate in the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro organic law set on January 21 and February 6.

The organic law is the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal signed in 2014 by the government and the MILF.

Once ratified, the BARMM will replace the ARMM.

Once the BARMM is in place, the MILF will lead the interim Bangsamoro Transition Authority. The MILF central committee had endorsed Murad to lead the transition government until the regular elections in 2022.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, ARMM-RBOI chairperson, said that the years of cumulative growth in investments of at least P1 billion annually in the region was largely due to the success of the government-MILF peace process.

“The window of investment growth in the ARMM will require more nurturing and active stewardship by the leaders (of the future BARMM) in order to sustain the gains of the region,” Mastura said.

ARMM holds the distinction as the country’s poorest region with a poverty incidence of 48 percent, ARMM-RBOI data showed.

20 Cotabato barangays included in BOL plebiscite

By Ferdinand Patinio (PNA)

MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday announced that 20 barangays in the province of Cotabato will be part of the forthcoming plebiscite for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“The first batch of Comelec en banc decisions on BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) petitions has been released, and 20 petitions have been granted,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement.

The following will be included in the scheduled plebiscite: barangays Libungan Torreta, Upper Pangankalan, Datu Mantil, and Simsiman in Pigcawayan town; Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan town; and barangays Langogan, Pebpoloan, Kibayao, Kotulaan, and Tupig in Carmen town; Barangays Rajahmuda, Barungis, Gli-gli, Nalapaan, Palicupan, Nunguan, Manaulanan, Bulol, Bualan, and Nabundas, all in Pikit town.

Jimenez said the Commission en banc has approved the petitions of the said barangays for voluntary inclusion in the referendum for ratification of the BOL.

Meanwhile, 24 petitions have been denied for failing to comply with the rules regarding voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite.

A total of 103 petitions for voluntary inclusion have been filed before the poll body.

The Comelec had said that the areas contiguous to any of the Bangsamoro core areas may apply for voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite, by either the local government of such an area filing a resolution; or at least 10 percent of the registered voters in a local government unit filing a petition and ask for inclusion in the plebiscite.

If approved, the Bangsamoro plebiscite in such areas that sought voluntary inclusion will be held on February 6.

The first scheduled plebiscite is set on January 21, in geographical areas comprising Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including Isabela City in Basilan and Cotabato City.

Gov’t, Cotabato leaders vow peaceful plebiscite, mid-term polls

By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. and top military and police commanders met with local leaders in Camp Siongco, Maguindanao on Thursday, to defuse tension stoked by the recent bombing incident in Cotabato City, and to assure the city of a peaceful conduct of the upcoming Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite and midterm polls.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Office of the Secretary of National Defense / MANILA BULLETIN) (Photo: Joseph Vidal/PRIB/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Lorenzana said they came to the province to prevent speculation and “finger-pointing” on the bombing, which claimed two lives and injured scores of others.

“We are here to defuse the tensions and we don’t want to escalate the conflict,” Lorenzana said.

Among those who attended the dialogue were Cotabato Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, Maguindanao First District and Cotabato City Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, and Bangsamoro Islamic Forces Chief of Staff Sammy Gambar Al-Mansoor.

Lorenzana said a presentation made during the security briefing led by Army Sixth Infantry Division (6th ID) commander Maj. General Cirilito Sobejana suggested that the bombing had the signature of a local terror group.

“Until we get to the bottom of this, we consider this incident a terror attack,” he said, adding the initial investigation “points to Daulah Islamiyah terror group.”

The Defense Chief said their intention in coming to Maguindanao was to ensure the people “to have a free and peaceful elections and plebiscites.”

“Rest assured that your military and police are doing their best to ensure that you can vote freely according to your choice,” he said.

Lorenzana also called on the people to weigh the benefits of the BOL.

“Itong BOL na ito, matagal na natin hinihintay. There will be a lot of benefits. Let’s weigh it over para magkaroon naman tayong ng katahimikan [We’ve been waiting for the BOL for a long time. There will be a lot of benefits. Let’s weigh it over so we can have peace],” he said.

Meanwhile, Galvez and Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega asked the leaders to stay calm following the attack.

“We can’t win peace by force, but by persuasive diplomacy and understanding,” Galvez said.

Galvez said the local leaders and the security forces are committed to making sure the upcoming plebiscite and elections “will be peaceful and it will reflect the honest will of the people.”

He noted that the presence of the Defense Chief was critical since Lorenzana knew the political landscape and security situation of the area very well, being a native of Parang in Maguindanao and an alumnus of Notre Dame University.

The plebiscite is scheduled on January 21, 2019 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Isabela City for the ratification of the BOL.

For Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, including the barangays that filed their petitions to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) granted by the Commission on Elections, the plebiscite will be on February 6, 2019.

Workshop explores convergence to address food insecurity

By Apipa P. Bagumbaran (APB/PIA10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)-- A four-day workshop brought together 39 stakeholders from government line agencies and local government units in Lanao del Sur to explore convergence efforts to ensure food security in the province.

The workshop, held Nov. 19 to 22, was organized by the provincial government to formulate a plan to address food insecurity as well as increase food sufficiency in the province.

During the workshop, the participants took a hard look at the factors that impact food security such as poverty, income, unemployment, productivity, and shocks including those that affect stability like disasters and conflicts.

Environment concerns and measures to preserve Lake Lanao were also tackled.

Assad Baunto of the Regional Planning and Development Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RPDO-ARMM), on the other hand, shared the various programs of the ARMM government to strengthen the region’s food system.

He also discussed the cyclical relationship between poverty, conflict, and food insecurity.

He said poverty measures deprivation has many dimensions.

Addressing food insecurity does not only involve ensuring the availability of food but also making sure that people have access to it at all times.

He also emphasized that while food insecurity can be a source of conflict, the conflict itself has a significant effect on food insecurity.

At the end of the workshop, the participants identified various programs, projects, activities, and budgetary requirements to ensure food security and stability.

They also crafted strategies on how to make convergence work for each of the identified programs.

Proposed policies and communication activities to support the convergence were also laid out.

The outputs of the workshop will be reviewed and finalized by the provincial government for inclusion in its annual investment plan.

ARMM studes clinch medals in nat'l, int'l contests

(Bureau of Public Information-ARMM/PIA10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) –- Student representatives from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) brought pride to the Bangsamoro after bagging medals in different national and international competitions.

Ricco Teraytay from Camp Siongco National High School competed in the 2018 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships from November 15 to 18 in Taipei, Taiwan, while Yahser Malang from ARMM Regional Science High School was the top two grand finalist during the Southeast Asia Video Festival held Nov. 24 in Manila.

Five students from Parang National High School also emerged the grand champion in the Science Investigatory Project on Nov. 16 in Olongapo City.

Students from ARMM Regional Science High School bagged the championship in a video competition under the theme "Everyday’s Hero" children category for their video entitled 'Super Guro'.

Sinebata 2018 is a competition of creators of videos for and by children from the Philippines convened by Anak TV, an advocacy organization that promotes television literacy and child-sensitive, family-friendly television in the Philippines.

Apart from receiving trophies and other prizes, the team placed second in the Second Southeast Asia Video Festival for Children, also known as Southeast Asia Prix Jeunesse.

The competition’s participants were from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

For the grand champion in the Science Investigatory Project, students from Parang National High School said it is an honor to represent the region in a science competition.

The team’s grand champion project is an anti-theft door alarm.

Lawyer Rasol Mitmug Jr., ARMM’s Education Department Secretary, noted that the ARMM government has consistently been supportive of these outstanding students.

He emphasized that the regional government is confident that the students in ARMM would also participate successfully in future national and international activities.

All the awardees said bringing the banner and pride of the Bangsamoro is a strong statement that people in the ARMM have many to offer.

Youth summit gathers young leaders in Piagapo

(Piagapo LGU/ PIA10)

PIAGAPO, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- More than 100 young leaders here gathered at the municipal complex on Dec. 17-19, 2018 for a youth summit organized by the municipal government in partnership with the 12th Civil-Military Operations Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The summit was anchored on the theme "Arise. Lead. Inspire" to transform and empower the youth in fulfilling their roles in building a morally and spiritually upright society.

During the summit, the young leaders underwent a series of interactive lectures and workshops and experienced practical exercises.

They were also exposed to several team building activities designed to prepare them to work better together.

Resource speakers were led by Ltc Wilfredo P. Amoma, Commanding Officer of the 12th CMO Battalion, who discussed preventing and countering violent extremism.

Other topics were: Environment and the Youth by Forester Asmarie M. Labao; the role of the youth in nation-building by Jamilnur D. Sarip, Prime Minister of MSU-Supreme Student Government; criminality and drug addiction and prevention by PSInsp. Vanessa Gabot; ill-effects of drug abuse/addiction by Dr. Rasmia M. Lawi; leadership development and interpersonal communications by Prof. Sorhaila L. Yusoph; the rule of law and children's rights by Atty. Ishaq L. Mangondato; and the role of the youth in the Bangsamoro by Rubina M. Macabunar.

Meanwhile, Piagapo Mayor Engr. Ali L. Sumandar commended the active participation and support of the Liga ng mga Barangay-Piagapo Chapter and the local Sangguninag Kabataan.

He also expressed appreciation to the 12thCMO Battalion for providing the facilitators during the summit.

The mayor hopes that the summit will foster unity and bravery among the youth for them to lead and inspire people to build stronger communities and a peaceful nation.

ARMM posts highest employment rate in Mindanao

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had the highest employment rate in 2018 among the six regions in Mindanao, the preliminary results of the Annual Labor and Employment Estimates for 2018 showed.

The employment rate in ARMM, which is comprised of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, and Cities of Lamitan and Tawi Tawi, was recorded at 96.3 percent in 2018, slightly lower compared to 96.6 percent recorded in 2017.

Region 12, or more collectively known as SOCCSKARGEN, pertaining to South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City, registered an employment rate of 96.1 percent; Caraga with 96 percent, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao with 95.9 percent, and 95.7 percent, and Davao Region with 95.7 percent.

The annual employment rate in the Philippines was estimated at 94.7 percent, with Cagayan Valley being the highest at 97percent and Ilocos Region, the lowest at 93.2percent, according to PSA.

The unemployment rate in the country last year was estimated at 5.3percent while the underemployment was 16.4 percent.

The PSA estimated the annual labor force participation rate was at 60.9percent out of 71.3 million population aged 15 years old and above. This was equivalent to 43.5 million economically active population comprising either employed or unemployed persons.

A total of 41.2 million were employed in 2018 in various industries such as agriculture, industry, and services sector, the PSA reported.

It said workers employed in the services sector comprised the largest proportion of the total employed workers at 56.6percent in 2018, which increased slightly from 56.3percent recorded in 2017.

Major of the workers in the services sector were engaged in the wholesale and retail trade and the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles accounted the largest.

The agriculture sector came in the second highest which accounted for 24.3percent of the total employed workers in 2018 while workers in the industry sector made up the smallest which only registered 19.1percent.

A brief history: The Islamic City of Marawi

By Ayesha Merdeka Alonto

As Marawi city moves toward rehabilitation, there is hope for a new dawn and a brave return to the nobility of the past.

Straddling between the serene shores of Lake Lanao and the mouth of Agus River, and amidst hills, valleys and mountains, nestles the city of Marawi. For millennia and even beyond, Marawi has served as the melting pot of the Meranaws from all municipalities. It is the heart of Lanao.

But today, the once bustling city center lies eerily empty and abandoned. Its entire landscape of colorful buildings has now become rubble and ruin. This is the Marawi we now see after the Maute Group—a locally-led terrorist cell affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL)—went on a terrorist rampage in the city on May 23, 2017. As their international cohorts continue to do in other cities in the Islamic world, they brought mayhem and destruction in their wake.

Marawi was once called Dansalan which uses the root Meranaw word, dansal, meaning “where the waves come to shore.” Dansalan is understood as the destination point where boats berth. In 1907, Dansalan was officially created as a municipality under the Moro Province Legislative Council, and declared the capital of Lanao Province under the American Colonial Government. Under the Philippine Commonwealth Government, Dansalan was the last city chartered by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 592 when President Manuel L. Quezon approved its conversion from a town to a city in 1940. Under the Republic of the Philippines, President Ramon Magsaysay signed Republic Act No. 1552, sponsored by Senator Domocao Alonto, into law; it was and renamed Marawi City in honor of the city’s martyred brave in Kuta Maraghui (Fort Marawi) in 1895. In 1959, President Carlos P. Garcia approved Republic Act No. 2228 which was sponsored once again by Senator Domocao Alonto. This act divided the Province of Lanao into Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Marawi City was then declared the capital of Lanao del Sur.

By virtue of a City Council Resolution in April 1980, which cited the fact that Marawi City was the only chartered city in the Philippines with a predominantly Muslim population, Marawi City was declared the “Islamic City of Marawi.”

The history of Marawi is inextricable from the history of the Meranaws. In their tarsilas (oral genealogies), it is recorded that the clan existed as far back as 6,000 years ago. Dansalan began as a port area, and was just as much the thriving hub of trade and commerce as it is today.

ARMM crime volume drops 20% in 2018

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY--Crime volume in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has dropped by as much as 20 percent this year, a top police official said.

In a statement released Friday, Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, ARMM police director, said that of a total of 2,378 crimes recorded from January to November 2018, 900 are index crimes and 1,478 were non-index crimes.

“The current crime figure is lower by 592 crime incidents or some 20 percent down compared to last year’s 2,970 total number of crimes committed during the same period,” Mijares said.

He said the drop could be attributed to the effective crime solution strategy employed by the ARMM police force.

In particular, Mijares said the volume of index and non-index crimes decreased by 24.30 percent and 17.02 percent, respectively. Among the index crimes recorded were murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft and carnapping incidents.

In particular, he said murder cases went down by 18.90 percent, homicide (19.51 percent), physical injury (8.46 percent), rape (2.27 percent), robbery (32.29 percent), theft (51.06 percent), car theft (50 percent), and motorcycle theft (46.42 percent).

Mijares noted that non-index crimes committed are more on “violations of ordinances and special laws.” Mijares lauded the increasing public trust in law enforcers in the region, such as people reporting situations even before crimes are committed in their communities.

“The public’s vigilance was a vital key to reduced crime incidents across the region,” he emphasized.

Moreover, he also lauded the men and women under his command, who performed their assigned tasks in all levels of security, crime prevention, public relations, and anti-drug programs.

Mijares vowed that the police will continue with its fight against all forms of criminality for a more peaceful and progressive ARMM.

PRO-ARMM hauls P28.3-M illegal drugs in 2018

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Police operatives from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have confiscated PHP28.3-million worth of illegal drugs from January to November this year.

In a statement released Thursday, Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, director of Police Regional Office (PRO) - ARMM, said the total drug haul was the result of 400 police anti-drug operations that also led to the arrest of 526 drug suspects.

“Of the total number of drug suspects arrested, 32 died after resisting arrest. A total of 834 drug-related cases were also filed by the ARMM police in court,” he said.

Mijares said the total confiscated drugs comprised 4,135 grams of shabu and 494 grams of marijuana.

He further said that the campaign against illegal gambling led to the apprehension of 243 personalities from 107 police operations.

The series of operations also resulted in the confiscation of PHP94,165 worth of gambling bet money, 30 fighting cocks, and 20 slot machines, among others.

Amid such achievements, Mijares sought the help of the public in their continuing campaign against prohibited drugs and gambling.

“Illegal drugs and gambling are both menaces to society. We need public support to neutralize these two as to other forms of criminality,” he said.

The PRO-ARMM covers the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

ARMM takes a bow, ends on a high note

By Amir Mawallil

BY the first quarter of 2019, the regional government we now call the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will cease to exist following a referendum in January.

In its place will rise a new regional juridical entity that will be called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

BARMM is the result of decades of armed and peaceful struggle by the Bangsamoro for self-determination. With good governance, as well as full support from the national government, this new regional entity should be able to fulfill most — if not all — of the goals the Bangsamoro has fought so hard and so long to gain.

The existing ARMM was created in August 1989 under Republic Act No. 6734 during the Cory Aquino administration. Following the law’s 2001 revision, its coverage now includes the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, as well as the cities of Marawi (Lanao del Sur) and Lamitan (Basilan). According to records, the region’s population was 3.78 million in 2015, a population that grows at a rate of 2.89% annually.

Before ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman took the helm of the regional government in December 2011, the following served as the region’s chief executives: Zacaria Candao (1990-93); Lininding Pangandaman (1993-1996); Nur Misuari (1996-2001); Alvarez Isnaji (2001); Parouk Hussin (2001-2005); Zaldy Ampatuan (2005-2009); and Ansaruddin Adiong (2009-11).

While the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) signed by President Duterte in July means ARMM’s demise, ARMM functionaries led by Hataman pushed consistently for the passage of the BOL and the creation of the BARMM.

“It will help end the decades-long armed conflict and violence in the region,” Hataman said during a gathering in Cotabato City in August.

The good governor and his team said the ARMM has its faults and limitations: in 29 years of existence, it was only in recent years that good governance and socioeconomic milestones were achieved.

The capacity for more consistent progress was compounded further by major peace-and-order problems in recent years. These conflicts were fueled by historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro — and they prevented both public and private investments from flowing freely into the region. This resulted in a development imbalance between Moro and non-Moro provinces in Mindanao that widened perennially.

Under Hataman, the regional government started getting its house in order in 2012. It crafted a massive and strategic development plan for the entire region. The ARMM also set up databases and institutionalized data-banking for its line agencies — all unprecedented moves. Before Hataman, there were no clear lines or databases of information on the regional government’s policy decisions, and expenditures or development plans. There was no definite archive of documents upon which we could base future actions and decisions.

This initiative of setting up institutional systems within the bureaucracy earned the ARMM its first International Standardization Organization (ISO) certification in 2016. Earning an ISO certification meant the regional government reached international standards and requirements for its management systems. The scope of the certification included the provision of completed staff work for the governor’s issuances and engagements.

This observation that the ARMM’s improved governance makes a positive socioeconomic impact in areas within its jurisdiction is supported by hard and reliable data. These changes under Hataman’s stewardship were achieved despite major challenges the whole region struggled with in the recent years — from the Mamasapano clash in January 2015 to the Marawi Siege in May 2017.

Gov. Hataman recognized ARMM’s weaknesses and pushed for three reform pillars: good governance, peace and security, and socioeconomic development.

In terms of good governance, the ARMM’s drive to promote efficiency and effective administration among its local government units yielded significant results. Last year, 19 municipalities and one city in the region were conferred the Seal of Good Local Governance, under a program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

This year, 23 local government units (LGUs) in the region were conferred the 2018 Seal of Good Local Governance.

The ARMM also has the most number of local government passers among Mindanao’s regions. It should be noted that, in 2015, not one LGU in the region passed the Seal’s criteria. In 2016, only six of over a hundred LGUs in ARMM were given similar recognition.

Recognized by DILG through the Seal of Good Housekeeping Award in 2010, the ARMM continues to raise the bar of accountability and transparency for local government executives. The DILG conferred the award after a thorough assessment of LGUs’ performance, especially in four core areas: financial administration, disaster-preparedness, social protection, and peace and order.

Another major breakthrough of the Hataman administration was the establishment of the Regional Human Rights Commission. This came to fruition after more than 20 years of ARMM’s existence. This milestone is critical, especially in a region that was known for many human rights abuses in the past.

When Hataman took his oath as caretaker in charge of the ARMM in December 2011, one of the things the Department of Education’s Central Office commended the ARMM for was the regional government’s continuing data cleansing process that resulted in the delisting of hundreds of thousands of “ghost learners.” Many of these ghosts were literal ones.

Ghost employees are “employees” whose names are recorded on the payroll system. They do not actually work for the institutions in which they supposedly belong. These ghosts can either be real people who, knowingly or not, are placed on the government’s payroll despite their lack of involvement in the day-to-day business of governance. And more often than not, these fictitious people are also invented by dishonest employees.

Hataman took the lead in the ARMM, a region haunted not just by the burdens of its past, but also by the ghosts that gained a foothold in the region’s deeply rooted system of graft and corruption — a system Hataman sought to change.

ARMM has also been commended by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) on the settlement of more than P2 billion in accounts payable that burdened most of the region’s teachers — this was a burden for teachers in the region for years prior to Hataman’s assumption as OIC governor.

The region’s latest economic indicators, which were made available early this year, are impressive. For instance, its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) grew by 7.3% in 2017 from a dismal 0.3% in 2016.

Last year’s performance showed the highest growth rate achieved in the region’s history. It even surpassed the national growth rate estimated at 6.7% for the same period.

Statistics showed that the agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing sectors were the main contributors to the region’s record-breaking GRDP performance. That sector registered 15.5% growth in 2017 from a mere 4.3% in 2016. ARMM is predominantly agricultural, with a 56.4% share in the region’s economy.

Even as fighting in Marawi started in the second quarter of 2017, investment in ARMM kept growing, with P3.65 billion in total commitment in the first half of that year. The figures reported by the Regional Board of Investments were higher by almost 74%, compared to 2016’s total registration of P2.1 billion.

The ARMM, in the last seven years of the Hataman administration, has recorded more than P20-billion registered investments that generated thousands of jobs. These occurred through government initiatives that not only created jobs but ensured fair wages. The betterment of the people of the Bangsamoro region has been made by the ARMM through large-scale job creation and assured job security. Better investments within the ARMM revitalizes the region and makes an important contribution to the national economy as well.

Hataman said in his last public address on Dec. 19 that with the BOL, the Bangsamoro government will have more freedom to decide on vital matters for itself. This, in turn, will speed up service delivery and the implementation of projects. The BOL is the strongest symbol of triumph for the peace process. If the BOL is ratified, the Bangsamoro can close an old chapter of conflict and division.

Yes, the ARMM is closing its last chapter in the Bangsamoro region. But it is bowing out on a high note, with many good lessons and gains to turn over as both legacy and gift to the BARMM, which can and should build on this strong foundation.

This will send a clear message across the nation and the world: the strife in Mindanao is over. The Bangsamoro are fully prepared and eager to face a more prosperous future.

Cotabato City Christmas revelry peaceful

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Police here said the merrymaking during Christmas Eve was generally peaceful and no untoward incidents were reported.

“The entire city was peaceful, and no firecracker explosions nor indiscriminate firing of guns were heard in welcoming Christmas Day,” said Senior Supt. Rolly Octavio, city police director, in an interview by newsmen here on Tuesday.

After getting security assessment from the police and Army-led Task Force Kutawato, Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi lifted the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew to allow revelers to welcome Christmas.

Soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces Battalion and Cotabato City police personnel were deployed in all Catholic churches that celebrated the Christmas Eve mass.

Fielded along major city streets were armored personnel carriers that gave city residents the feeling of security as they welcomed Christmas Day.

Sayadi, in a message, appealed to city residents to make the celebration peaceful and refrain from using firecrackers or fire guns. A city ordinance bans the sale, distribution, and use of firecrackers in welcoming Christmas and the New Year.

Octavio also appealed to civilian firearm owners to refrain from firing their guns, warning them of consequences should they use their weapons during the revelry.

For the past four years, no single victim of firecrackers and stray bullets were listed in the city as compared to several years back when the least number of stray bullet injuries was at five.

ARMM LGUs gain DILG challenge fund

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- As an incentive for upholding good governance, 23 local government units in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were given a total of PHP79.3-million fund by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), a local official said Saturday.

Dubbed as Performance Challenge Fund, the allotment was given to LGUs that received the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) award this year, according to DILG-ARMM Secretary Noor Hafizullah Abdullah.

“The allocation may be used by the local government units (LGUs) to fund its local projects that will have good impact in terms of local governance,” Abdullah told newsmen here in an interview.

Basilan province received about PHP7 million as provincial awardee of SGLG in ARMM, while PHP3.2 million each were apportioned for the towns of Talipao, Sulu; Maluso and Sumisip in Basilan, Simunol and Sibuto in Tawi-Tawi; Wao, Taraka, Kapatagan, Buadipuso Buntong and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur; and Barira, Buldon, Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Guindulungan, Shariff Aguak, Datu Paglas, North Upi and South Upi in Maguindanao.

With this, Abdullah urged other local government executives to work hard and improve the delivery of services to their constituents and earn SGLG awards.

ARMM records P20-B investments in 2012-2018


THE REGIONAL Board of Investments (RBOI) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recorded P20.07 billion investments in the period 2012-2018.

ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, in his state of the region address last Dec. 19, cited that more than 15,000 jobs were created through the entry of various companies.

“In the span of seven years that we’ve been together, RBOI recorded over 20-billion investments that contributed to our region’s economy,” said Mr. Hataman, who was appointed in 2011, won the seat in the succeeding elections, and is stepping down in July next year.

The RBOI, in its report for the regional address, said, “Since 2013 the RBOI has consistently been reaching its investment target set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and in fact, the agency has been exceeding the target set by DBM in achieving more than P1.0 billion registered investments every year since 2013.”

The biggest investment at P1.016 billion came from ChocoInvest Corporation, a local firm that set up a cacao plantation project in Buldon, Maguindanao.

Mr. Hataman also noted that the recorded investments since 2012 do not include the informal sector of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. “This is aside from the SMEs and informal economy that started due to the region’s peace and security,” he said.

ARMM’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth rate jumped from 0.4% in 2016 to 7.3% in 2017.

JICA, ARMM undertake Bangsamoro infrastructure needs survey


BEGINNING this month to March 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with assistance from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), are undertaking a survey to identify priority infrastructure projects for the new Bangsamoro region that could be funded by JICA.

In a statement, the DPWH-ARMM said the JICA Bangsamoro Infrastructure Needs Survey will produce a map that pinpoints the locations for the projects and demonstrate inter-relationships between these infrastructures.

A Comprehensive Infrastructure Needs Master Plan will also be drawn up.

In a consultation meeting in early Dec. in Cotabato City, the DPWH-ARMM led by Regional Secretary Engr. Don Mustapha A. Loong presented their accomplishments in the past several years and identified needs “in terms of roads and bridges, ports and airports, electric and water supply, disaster preventions, educational facilities, primary schools, public health centers, and community centers.”

Also discussed was the necessity for “sustainable electric and potable water supply in every corner of the Region,” particularly in areas that are not geographically connected to the main ARMM towns.

Among the major infrastructure projects identified to spur economic growth were: Sulu Circumferential Road Master Plan; Tawi-Tawi Circumferential Road Master Plan; Tawi-Tawi Free Port and Malasa International Port; Polloc Port Master Plan; Polloc Coastal Road to traverse Sultan Mastura-Sultan Kudarat-Datu Odin Sinsuat; and flood control projects along the Rio Grande de Mindanao communities, among others.

MILF chief welcomes 'inclusive business model' for Bangsamoro

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expressed support for the concept of “inclusive business model” during the launch of the Business Sustainability Framework in the Bangsamoro (BSFB) here Friday.

In his message read by Edward Guerra, co-chair of the Government and MILF joint normalization committee, MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said "the inclusive business model is the one best suited for the region where poverty incidence is 48 percent, the highest in the country.”

“This BSFB launch could not have come at a more appropriate time as we prepare for a new political arrangement with the national government,” Murad added.

In a statement, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) said the inclusive business model, “while attaining for profit, also benefits the poor.”

“It attends to the higher calling of benefiting low-income communities, not through charitable acts but through the inclusion of the poor in the business operations providing them livelihood that will build a dignified society,” the agency said.

For Murad, the continuing engagement of the business sector and other stakeholders in the region “is a testament of their confidence in our ability to transition smoothly into what we envision is a better future with a more stable policy environment for the business sector.”

The BSFB launch was led by the RBOI-ARMM, together with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Hineleban Foundation Inc. (HFI).

The BSFB was crafted through the Brokering Business Investments in the Bangsamoro to Achieve Inclusive Development and Growth or BRIDGe project funded by the Australian government.

The BRIDGe project is designed to increase investments that would hasten the development and peaceful integration of Muslim Mindanao into the national economy.

RBOI-ARMM said it is the concept of inclusive business that is a major strategy for poverty reduction as it integrates and enables low-income communities to participate in the value chain of a company’s core business, either as employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers or consumers who are then able to access goods and services at affordable prices and improve their lives.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI chair, said the inclusive business model is part of BOI/RBOI Investment Priorities Plan 2017-2019 so that businesses having this kind of model can enjoy fiscal incentives from the RBOI.

“Next year, we will be turning-over the BSFB to the new government and we expect them to carry the ball of investment promotion and investments towards sustainable and inclusive development,” Mastura added.

The BSFB was first launched in Manila last September 28.

Cultural performances cap Pakaradjaan 2018

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Cultural performances capped Wednesday's culmination of Pakaradjaan 2018, the month-long revelry to celebrate the founding anniversary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Pakaradjaan performances were led by top country singers Bayang Barrios, Cookie Chua, and regional cultural troupes performing songs and cultural dances from various tribes of the region.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman led the awarding of the trophies and cash prizes to the winners of various contests that began in March this year.

Top winners include the province of Basilan as first place winner in the grandest cultural mock village competition ever held in the region. The province of Lanao del Sur won second place, followed by Maguindanao (third place), Sulu (fourth place), and Tawi-Tawi (fifth place).

ARMM officials also earlier competed in a cooking contest with lawyer Rasol Mitmug, Jr., Lanao del Sur tribal chieftain and concurrent Department of Education-ARMM secretary, emerging as the winner.

Other tribal chieftain cooking contest winners are lawyer Laisa Masuhud Alamia, the ARMM executive secretary representing Basilan; Don Mustapha Loong (Sulu); Kahal Kedtag (Maguindanao); and Dayang Carlsum Jumaide (Tawi-Tawi.

In the food festival category, Maguindanao topped the ARMM provinces, with Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi trailing behind, respectively.

In the miniature mosque around the world competition, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-ARMM (The Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali) got first place; Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs-ARMM (Grozny Kadyrov Mosque in Russia) -- second place; and the Department of Tourism-ARMM (Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque in Sri Lanka) landed on the third spot.

The essay writing competition winners are Juwairiyah Bint Emran Mohamad (first); Sittie Ayeesha Dicali (second); and Aleah-Hidaya Hadji Rakhim (third). Consolation prize winners included Nor-anisha Schaharazhed Guro, Lureva Lailanie Razuman, Omera Asya Datumulok Radia, Bycel Cates Papolonias, and Yarah Alamsahi Musa.

Event keynote speaker Frank Rivera -- a playwright, actor, and production designer -- said he got emotional as he listened to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman’s ‘Ulat sa Bayan’ delivered on Wednesday morning.

“I was teary-eyed as the Moro’s pride, dignity, art, and culture are very much alive in this place. You never departed from it,” he said.

Movie actor Robin Padilla, also a peace advocate, and Anak Mindanao Executive Director Sitti Djalia Turabin Hataman were also present in the culmination rites.

This year's celebration is anchored on the theme: “The ARMM Legacy: Exemplifying Good Governance in the Bangsamoro.”

Xmas dawn mass in ARMM going on smoothly

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The traditional “Simbang Gabi” in Christian-majority communities across the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been generally peaceful so far, a police official said Thursday.

Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, ARMM police director, said police units in the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have all been placed on heightened alert even before the start of the nine-day Simbang Gabi (dawn masses).

“No untoward incident that affected the dawn masses were reported so far,” Mijares said in a statement. The dawn masses started on December 16 and will end on Dec. 24, the eve of Christmas day.

“We will remain on alert as we welcome Christmas,” Mijares said.

ARMM is predominantly Muslim but about 15 percent are non-Muslims who observe the Christmas tradition. As of 2015 census, ARMM has a population of 3.7 million.

Earlier, Mijares directed police provincial directors to deploy mobile patrol units with blinkers turned on to visibly establish police presence but not necessarily creating undue alarm to the public.

The police director reminded police from day one of Simbang Gabi, also known as Misa de Gallo, to be vigilant against criminal elements engaged in common street crimes such as robbery, theft, burglary on unattended homes, holdups, swindling and gang wars.

Mijares lauded the officials, village watchmen, citizen volunteers and force multipliers in the region’s 2,490 for extending assistance to local police in maintaining law and order in their respective areas.

Philippine National Police Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde has earlier ordered all police units in the country to step-up visibility and patrol operations to ensure public safety and security until the New Year’s celebration.

Food and beverages manufacturing project up in Sulu

By Nonoy Lacson

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has approved recently the application of Sulu Food and Beverage Corporation (SFBC) to register with the agency their food and beverages manufacturing project worth P8 million in Indanan, Sulu.

RBOI chair Ishak Mastura said the investment is backed by one of the oldest food and beverage companies in the country which was established 166 years ago – Destileria Limtuaco.

Mastura said this is the first time that Sulu received an outside investment and the first outside investment to be registered in Sulu by the RBOI.

According to Mastura, this is an investment milestone for the country because Sulu, as one of the most conflict-affected areas in the country, was previously considered a “no go zone” for investors.

“With the registration of this investment project in Sulu, all five provinces in the ARMM now have registered investments with the RBOI, which is unprecedented and has never happened before,” added Mastura.

ARMM students win in national, international competitions


COTABATO CITY --- Student representatives from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) brought pride to the Bangsamoro after bagging several awards in a recently-held national and international competitions.

Yahser Malang, a student of ARMM Regional Science High School in Parang, Maguindanao, is top two grand-finalist in Southeast Asia Video Festival held on November 24 in Manila.

Also, a team of five students from Parang National High School of Parang town bagged the grand champion in Science Investigatory Project on November 16 in Olongapo City.

Another pride is Ricco Teraytay, a finalist who competed in the 2018 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships from November 15 to 18 in Taipei, Taiwan. He is a student of Camp Siongco National High School, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The awardees were united in saying that bringing the banner and pride of the Bangsamoro is a strong statement that people in the ARMM have many to offer.

“I’m proud that I’m from ARMM, and overwhelmed to represent Mindanao and the country Philippines,” said Teraytay who was included in the top 10 under 17 junior male team.

ARMM’s Education Department secretary Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr noted that the ARMM government has consistently been supportive of these outstanding students.

“It feels so good, because we have a direct communication with Secretary Mitmug and he constantly monitor me and it’s a big help,” Teraytay said, adding that thousands of athletes from 59 countries joined the 2018 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.

The winning students of ARMM Regional Science High School who bagged the championship in video competition, a children category which bannered the theme, “Everyday’s Hero” for their entry entitled “Super Guro,” said they were happy to win the competition.

Sinebata 2018 is a competition of creators of videos for children. The videos were also created by them. It is convened by Anak TV, an advocacy organization that promotes television literacy and child-sensitive, family-friendly television in the Philippines.

Apart from receiving trophies and other prizes, the team placed second in the Second Southeast Asia Video Festival for Children – also known as Southeast Asia Prix Jeunesse.

“I’m so proud because we have brought with us the banner of ARMM and the Philippines and we are proud to say that there are many talented individuals in this area,” Malang said.

Other competing participants also included Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the winning students of Parang National High School, the grand champion in Science investigatory project, said they are honored to represent the region in a science competition. The team’s grand champion project was an anti-theft door alarm.

They are hoping, however, that their success will also inspire other students to develop their skills to investigate scientifically and make investigatory projects as part of their learning.

In a message, Secretary Mitmug expressed confidence that the students in ARMM will continue to participate in future national and international activities.

Cotabato City starts week-long Shariff Kabunsuan Festival

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi here led on Saturday the formal opening of a week-long annual Shariff Kabunsuan Festival commemorating the arrival of Islam in mainland Mindanao.

The activity commenced with an opening program at the city plaza followed by the launching of “Brassware exhibit” at the old city hall building that shows various artifacts and brass wares made of bronze and silver.

In the afternoon, Sayadi led the opening of Shariff Kabunsuan Festival Bazaar at the Citi Mall featuring low prizes gift items ideal for Christmas gift-giving.

Gurlie Frondoza, city tourism officer, said other highlights of the week-long celebration is the Guinakit Fluvial parade commemorating the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan to bring Islam to mainland Mindanao using the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

The celebration is centered on the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan via Rio Grande de Mindanao more than 500 years ago to introduce Islam to the natives.

“It is an event displaying Muslim religion and culture,” Frondoza said.

Aside from the colorful fluvial parade, a street dancing parade and competition will be featured along with cultural shows, “inaul” (Muslim fabric) fashion show, culinary competition, and many others.

“Cotabato City is host to fishponds that cultures tasty crabs, thus the festival will feature crab cooking and eating show,” Frondoza said.

She also described the festival as an opportunity for the city government to appreciate the efforts of every Cotabateño in making the city earn regional and national recognition in terms of economics and good governance.

Educators attend forum on understanding education provisions in Bangsamoro law

By Maripaz C. Abas

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews) — The Commission on Higher Education of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CHED-ARMM) and National Association for Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) recenty conducted a Forum on Understanding Education Provisions of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and sought support of educators for its ratification.

Participated in by 120 teachers and administrators from 14 DepEd-recognized private madaris, one CHED-ARMM-supervised institution and a technical school, the forum, held on Sunday, December 9, aimed to “make the participants understand the salient provisions as well as education provisions of what has been popularly referred to as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), provide them a glimpse of the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education, and seek their cooperation in supporting campaign activities for BOL,” NABEI President Dr. Ombra Imam, said.

In his welcome statement, CHED-ARMM Commissioner Dr. Amor Pendaliday informed the participants that his office has been supporting activities to enlighten educators on the law, particularly on its education provisions, to guide them to have an informed decision when they cast their vote during the plebiscite on January 21, 2019.

Presenting the education provisions of the law, Dr. Pendaliday showed the historical development of education in ARMM. He described that almost all education provisions in the BOL are copy-pasted from ARMM laws such as R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054.

He lamented that some provisions like representation of ARMM in the Board of Regents or Board of Trustees of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in ARMM areas were not implemented and he hopes that same provisions stated in the BOL could be asserted by the new Bangsamoro government.

In order to immediately realize the creation of a Tribal University as stipulated in the BOL, Dr. Pendaliday proposed the amalgamation of eight non-chartered public tertiary institutions in ARMM into Bangsamoro Tribal University System with Upi Agricultural School as main campus.

He said this proposal was already submitted to MILF Chairman Al-haj Murad Ebrahim, the MILF’s nominee for Chief Minister of the MILF-led 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will govern the Bangsamoro during the three-year transition period. The BTA members will be appointed by the President.


Dr. Pendaliday posted some challenges to be confronted by the new government like merging of all education sectors under one ministry, and absence of clear plans for higher education as well as technical and vocational education.

On his part, Dr. Esmael Abdullah, head of the Technical Working Group of MILF Committee on Education, presented the “First Strategic Plan of the Bangsamoro Education and Culture Development” which included, among others, vision, mission, goals, objectives, and programs of the Bangsamoro education.

As provided by BOL, education is one of the powers granted to the Bangsamoro government. Based on his presentation, there shall be a Ministry of Education which envisions a “balanced and quality education for all.”

According to Dr. Abdullah, the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education has five bureaus: Madaris, Islamic and Arabic Education; Basic Education; Higher Education and Tribal University; Vocational, Technical, Non-formal and Special Education; and Physical Education and Sports Development.

During the open forum, some participants suggested that the draft plan should consider inclusivity by catering to both Muslim and non-Muslim Bangsamoro learners. Such draft should also highlight plans for higher education, technical-vocational education, and private madaris as mandated by the BOL.

Meanwhile, Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Deputy Secretary General of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) emphasized that, although the Bangsamoro government is granted full power on education, it should not set standards below the standards of Department Education to ensure transferability of students from Bangsamoro to other regions, recognition and accreditation of the education system outside the Bangsamoro region, and employment opportunities of graduates outside the Bangsamoro.

He stressed the need for a quality education. He said this could be measured when the head of education sends his children to a public school, otherwise, the quality of public education is questionable.

Responding to a query on the benefits of Cotabato City’s inclusion in the Bangsamoro, Sinarimbo, a trained technocrat and former ARMM Executive Secretary, explained golden economic opportunities for Cotabato City and its constituents, which could never be availed of by the city outside the Bangsamoro. He projected the coming in of various investments that will generate more jobs to residents of the city.

Yes vote

The forum was concluded with the adoption of various school-initiated activities in support of a yes vote for BOL such as display of tarpaulin at school gate and classrooms; display of BOL billboard in public places; conduct of BOL forum for PTA and community members; BOL advocacy during student assembly; BOL oratorical, video, slogan, poster and jingle contests; text brigade for Yes to BOL; volunteering during plebiscite to help family members and relatives, especially the elderly, to cast their yes vote; setting a school day for wearing a BOL T-shirt; reproduction of BOL campaign materials (stickers, pins, flaglets, buntings, bookmarks, ball pens, wristbands). Private schools were also encouraged to help reproduce campaign materials.

The participants also encouraged other schools — public and private — and educators especially those in the proposed Bangsamoro areas to take part in contributing to peace by doing similar activities in popularizing the BOL.

Participating schools at the forum included Upi Agricultural School, Aviation Technical School of Cotabato, Ibn Taimiyah Foundation Academy, Sakeena Islamic School, Al-Azharie Central Academy, Iqra Academy, Nahda Central Academy, School of Character, Dar Al Uloom wal Hikmah, Madrasah Datu Manguda Timan, Mohammad bin Al-Dhahiri Islamic School, Hadji Baganian Memorial School, Mahad Saada Al-Islamie, Madrasah A-Huzaim, Gani L. Abpi Colleges, Inc., and Datu Ibrahim Paglas College Foundation, Inc.

NABEI, which is registered with Securities and Exchange Commission and recognized by DepEd Central Office, is a non-government organization of 50 private madaris and private schools in Marawi City, Cotabato City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

It has been active in supporting the GPH-MILF peace process being a founding member of League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), a network of multi-sectoral civil society organizations across Mindanao and Metro Manila, that is helping push the yes vote for BOL in Cotabato City.

ADB OKs USD408-M funding for Marawi

By Kris Crismundo (PNA)

MANILA -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved the financing package to support the Philippine government's Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program.

ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird announced in a press briefing that the ADB will disburse USD400 million worth of loans plus USD8 million in grants to finance programs, projects, and activities for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Marawi.

ADB’s financing assistance covers nearly half of required investments under the Bangon Marawi program of the government, which is estimated at USD900 million.

Under the Emergency Assistance for Reconstruction and Recovery of Marawi package of the ADB, a USD300-million quick disbursing support will finance programs, projects, and activities related to health and education, social services, livelihood, local governance and peace-building.

The government targets to implement this from 2019 to 2020.

The ADB also set a USD100-million financing assistance for the reconstruction of 25 kilometers of roads, 1,700 meters of bridges and viaduct, and related physical infrastructure. These projects are expected to be completed in five years.

Part of ADB’s grant amounting to USD5 million, targets to restore water utilities and health infrastructure in Marawi.

The package will also fund the restoration of the water supply system in 19 barangays served by Marawi City Water District. Furthermore, it aims to bankroll the development of a comprehensive water supply, sewerage and drainage masterplan in Marawi.

Two local health clinics, three mobile health clinics and other health facilities will also be acquired through ADB's funding.

The remaining USD3-million grant will be supporting the emergency employment programs of the Department of Labor and Employment and livelihood programs of the Department of Trade and Industry. These programs are expected to help 3,600 beneficiaries.

“With the government’s recovery plan in place, it’s essential that we quickly implement and roll out the programs. It’s important to focus on helping young Maranaos regain a sense of normalcy in a safe learning environment, which they are longing for,” said Bird.

“A key component of our grants assistance will equip temporary learning places with better equipment and resources. We will also provide them with culturally sensitive psycho-social support and peace education,” he added.

Tenure of the USD400 million loan is 32 years and with eight years grace period.

TESDA earmarks P3.5 million for ARMM training court

By Nash B. Maulana

Cotabato City―The national government has earmarked an initial funding for the construction of a training court to accommodate former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front into acquiring technical skills through vocational education, officials said.

Omarkhayyam Dalagan, executive director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (TESDA-ARMM), said the national government has initially set aside P3.5 million in capital outlay fund for the construction of a training court in Maguindanao for MILF combatants and their dependents.

Dalagan said the fund, which was sub-allotted to his office, is now available and said that he is only waiting for a collective decision as to where to construct the building, after his courtesy coordination with the MILF leadership.

He said the training court for former MILF combatants and their families would be Tesda’s contribution to convergent pooling of government resources to help transform as many former guerrillas as possible during the transition of the Normalization Process, under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and its Annexes.

Dalagan said the training court also formed part of Tesda’s continuing massive enrollment campaign for technical vocational education and training (TVET) which took off on Feb. 27 to 28.

Not included in the amount, Dalagan said, were cost of equipment needed in an array of choices from the training course-programs offered.

Dalagan said choices from TESDA’s new course programs include food processing, dressmaking, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, computer system servicing, health care services, motorcycle or small engine servicing, electrical installation and maintenance.

Last year, TESDA-ARMM trained 26,638 individuals, and of whom 7,297 or 87.5 percent were assessed and certified as competent skilled workers.

Amir Mawallil, executive director of the ARMM Bureau of Public Information (BPI-ARMM), said TESDA-ARMM has awarded 11,153 scholarship

slots with a total funding requirement of P81 million. The study grant slots cover Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), Private

Education Student Financial Assistance (PESF for K to 12 compliance), and Skills Training for Employment Program (STEP).

Government officials said STEP awards its graduates with NC-II Certificates, convertible to civil service eligibility.

DepEd-ARMM uploads list of region’s schools

By Nash B. Maulana

Cotabato City―The Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has become the country’s fifth region to have completely uploaded online its list of public and privately-run basic schools.

ARMM DepEd Secretary Rasol Mitmug Jr. said a total of 2,706 names of public and private schools and their identification serials for elementary and secondary levels have been uploaded with the Basic Education Information System of the Philippine Master List of Schools.

The ARMM, composed of Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, including the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, will cease to exist, once a plebiscite in January held in these territories ratifies Republic Act 11054, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, for the creation of a Bangsamoro ARMM.

Topping the list of uploaded basic schools with 100 percent validation of names and school IDs are: 90 elementary and secondary schools in Basilan; 61 in Isabela City (Basilan); 368 in Maguindanao (District I); 343 in Maguindanao (District II); and 95 in Marawi City.

Sulu has had 468 or 98.11 percent validated out of 477 schools names and IDs uploaded into the BEIS master list of schools.

DepEd Region XII (South-Central Mindanao) topped the BEIS uploading compliance; followed by Region X (Northern Mindanao); Region VI (Western Visayas), Region 1 (Ilocos Region) and ARMM DepEd in that order.

Mitmug said validation works have been relatively slow in three other districts owing to some factors, including hard access to school sites and peace and order issues, like the two districts of Lanao Sur where only 10 schools were validated as of December 7 out of 452 uploaded; and in another district where only 21 validated out of 414 schools names and IDs uploaded.

Still, instances of unresolved leadership issues have plagued schools administration in areas where DepEd positions are contested like political posts, according to stories shared by officials asking for anonymity for lack of authority to speak to reporters.

Japan mulls financial aid to Bangsamoro body

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (PNA)

MANILA -- The Japanese government is planning to modify its existing support to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda said Tuesday.

"The new BTA that will replace the ARMM government needs to be well supported financially, and in terms of capacity building," he said during the Bangsamoro Forum in Makati City.

The BTA is the governing body that will be created during the transition period toward the establishment of the Bangsamoro government in 2022.

"Japan is considering to modifying its existing support to the ARMM government so that it would fit well with the new BTA," he added.

Haneda added that smooth operation for the upcoming plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) ratification "is a very crucial first step" for the process that follows.

"The international community could play a role to support this event, and Japan is considering its possible involvement," he said.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have already begun Monday the campaign for the BOL in Cotabato City. On January 21 and February 6, the voting for the plebiscite will take place.

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was also present at the forum, said "an overwhelming number of our people showed up to express their support for the Bangsamoro Organic Law."

While some were allegedly blocked from entering Cotabato City due to lack of identification cards and certificate of residency from barangay officials, the MILF chair said around 300,000 people were able to attend the gathering on Monday.

"Despite all the challenges in the plebiscite, we feel confident that our people will ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law," he said.

In a speech delivered at the forum, Ebrahim highlighted the 10 priorities the BTA will purse once it is established.

One of the priorities named is the implementation of programs that will respond to the pressing and economic challenges in the Bangsamoro such as poverty, education, health, and job opportunities, among others.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Representative Yo Ebisawa said the agency is among the numerous groups committed to fulfill this priority.

"The future project is for the future ex-combatant for the normalization process. It's going to be a pilot model when they really start the decommissioning. Since they don't have work, they may start with agriculture," he said at the sidelines of the Bangsamoro Forum.

Even before the BOL was approved last July 2018, JICA's support to the peace in the Bangsamoro region "was there," Ebisawa said.

"Actually, we supported the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in drafting the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), BBL at that time. We provided trainings for the ones drafting the BBL," he said.

"We have many things done in the past. We even dispatched people for trainings in Japan," he added.

JICA has also laid out development plans focused on vocational trainings, road network development project in the area, and technical assistance for the community, including the indigenous peoples.

In a video-taped message, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka affirmed that the agency's commitment to the Mindanao peace process is "now stronger than ever."

"We believe that peace and development in Mindanao will result to wider peace and development in the Philippines, and eventually in the greater Southeast Asian, and East Asian region," Kitaoka said.

Meanwhile, Ebrahim said the proposals for strategic infrastructures in the region were brought to JICA's attention such as the "peace bridges" in the western side of the city that will link Cotabato to both Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat, and a coastal road that will connect it to Polloc.

Among others, a circumferential road around the Liguasan marsh was also proposed.

Gov’t moves to start work on worst-hit Marawi sites

By Elijah J. C. Tubayan

THE GOVERNMENT is looking to draw P2.4 billion from unprogrammed funds in the 2018 budget to help kick-start rehabilitation of Marawi City areas that were the most damaged in last year’s five-month battle with Islamic State-inspired local militants, a senior economic planning official said last week.

A private consortium of Filipino and Chinese firms was initially the main proponent to rehabilitate Marawi City’s so-called “ground zero,” or the most affected area (MAA), through a public-private partnership (PPP), but it was eventually disqualified after failing to show financial capacity to undertake the task.

“Ang mas concern ngayon (The main concern now) is how to fund the projects in the MAA. Based on the latest discussions, pwede naman i-tap ‘yung (we can tap) unprogrammed funds sa GAA (General Appropriations Act of) 2018. It can be unlocked,” NEDA Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion M. Navarro told reporters on Thursday.

“Sa ngayon, ang tinitingnan nasa (We are now looking at) P2.4 billion, kasi ‘yung (of the) GAA unprogrammed (funds) is P5 billion… Pero hindi pa ‘yun (but that isn’t) final kasi it will still be based on the submission of Task Force Bangon Marawi implementing agencies.”

Unprogrammed funds (UF) in the national budget can be tapped under certain conditions, such as excess government revenues.

“There are funds in the UF for Marawi and balances from the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council),” Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said in a separate mobile phone message on Sunday when asked for details.

The rehabilitation plan for the MAA is separate from the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP), which covers battle-affected locations outside the most devastated area.

The government has set a five-year BMCRRP. It has allocated some P10 billion for this purpose from this year’s budget and raised P35 billion in pledges from multilateral development banks, donor countries, as well as local and international organizations, in the form of concessional loans and grants. These funds are applicable for rehabilitation of locations outside the MAA.

But with the recent setback in the PPP plan for the MAA, the government has to now step in.

“Sa ngayon, ’yan na muna pero option rin naman ’yung ibang modalities. Let’s see kung ano ang magiging final plan (That is it for now, but there are other options. Let’s see what will be the final plan for the most-affected area),” said Ms. Navarro.

The government also plans to sell about P13.5 billion in retail Treasury bonds for Marawi City’s rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation began on Oct. 30 after about a four-month delay, focused on debris management by local contractor FINMAT International Resources, Incorporated.

The succeeding tranches of the five-part rehabilitation of the MAA include: construction of roads, related infrastructure and underground facilities; road widening; right-of-way acquisition; as well as a master development plan with feasibility studies for new projects like public parks, barangay halls, public markets, port facilities, transport hubs, school buildings, memorial sites, a museum and even a convention center.

Solon envisions Marawi as transpo, communications hub

By Ellson Quismorio

Misamis Oriental 2nd district Rep. Juliette Uy said Monday that she wants a “transportation and communications hub” to rise out from the debris of Marawi City.

“We in Congress will do everything we can to make the new Marawi City a shining example of how to rebuild and renew. Marawi cannot be a post-Yolanda disaster compounding a prior calamity,” Uy said.

Uy, a vice chairman of the House committee on small business and entrepreneurship development, said the presence of a solid transportation and communication infrastructure is key to Marawi’s recovery as it would provide it a strong link to its Northern Mindanao neighbors and the rest of Mindanao.

She noted that El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental is just 62.5 kilometers away from Marawi.

“Marawi needs a good road network fanning out to the northern, western, central and eastern Mindanao regions,” Uy said

“Now that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is taking more solid shape and form, Marawi City can be a telecommunications nerve center with high-speed internet and the latest in broadcast technologies,” she further stressed.

It can be recalled that an estimated 1,000 ISIS-inspired Maute Group terrorists occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur on May 23, 2017. The Philippine military drove the terrorists out after a grueling five-month battle that left the Islamic city in shambles.

Meanwhile, Uy, a member of the House committee on public works and highways, reckoned that Marawi requires extra special disaster management “because it is vulnerable to strong storms or earthquakes.”

Uy is cosponsor of Lanao del Sur 1st district Rep. Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong’s House Bill no. 7711, or the proposed Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act.

“Many of my constituents in Misamis Oriental have loved ones in Marawi City. For that I, take it upon myself as their representative to look after the welfare of the residents of our neighbor city Marawi,” Uy said.

Tawi-Tawi short film bags top award in Moro film fest

By Manuel Cayon

DAVAO CITY—A young boy’s search for opportunity at a coastal village in the Philippines’s southernmost island and a girl’s survival efforts at an evacuation center in Central Mindanao bagged the two top awards in the 2018 Moro Film Festival in Cotabato City.

The short film Manis Ma Pikilan was handed the Best Short Film during the awards night of the festival’s Short Film Competition on December 6 held at Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City.

The Manis Ma Pikilan captures the personal struggles of Pahad, a boy from a small coastal community in Tawi-Tawi, the information office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) said.

“This film would like to tell the people, especially those people outside the Armm that Mindanao is not just about war, that people have their own personal struggles in life,” said Bhas Abdulsamad, director of the film.

Another short film, the White Flag, depicts the story of Omaimah, a young girl who had to weave her way through difficult times at an evacuation center in Marawi City to escape the war last year.

The Manis Ma Pikilan romped away with P300,000 in cash prize as the competition grand winner. The White Flag, on the other hand, won a total of P150,000 in cash prize as the Grand Jury Prize winner.

The White Flag director Najib Alyhar Zacaria was emotional during the awards night. Zacaria said he can’t explain how he was feeling at the moment but expressed his joy.

“This is for my Princess,” he said citing his daughter who died of an ailment while staying inside an evacuation center during the Marawi siege.

Aside from Manis Ma Pikilan and White Flag, the other short films that entered the competition’s top 10 finalists were: Identity, Kyuga, Battle of Tampakan, Inged, The Last Kill, Juramentado, Khalil at Manuelito and Sarimanok.

The competition also handed out the following special awards: Audience choice for Inged (P100,000); Best Director, Najib Alyhar Zacaria, for White Flag (P50,000); Best Screenplay for White Flag (P30,000); Best Cinematography for Manis Ma Pikilan (P30,000); Best Editing for Manis Ma Pikilan (P30,000); Best Actor, Abraham Nupuran, for Manis Ma Pikilan (P15,000); and, Special Citation for Ensemble Acting for The Last Kill (P15,000).

The films were critiqued by filmmakers from Mindanao, including Bagane Fiola of Davao City who has been doing films over the last decade, and Xeph Suarez, who just won a Cinemalaya best director award this year.

Both of them served as members of the jury.

Award-winning Moro filmmaker and author Gutierrez Mangansakan II said the jury he chaired was looking for films that tell the stories of Bangsamoro.

“A good story is something that comes from within, and these two movies, Manis Ma Pikilan and White Flag, were really able to surface this type of films,” he added.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman noted the films’ effort to correct the past stories about the Bangsamoro and the rest of Mindanao.

“This is the challenge to all filmmakers, win or lose. This is our challenge,” Hataman said in Tagalog.

The Armm Bureau of Public Information said this was the first time the ARMM organized a competition of short films highlighting the history, culture, and tradition of the Bangsamoro. It also showcased the talents of aspiring artists, actors and filmmakers in the region.

The competition would form part of the celebration of Pakaradjaan 2018. Public screenings of the top 10 films were held over the weekend at the Al Nor Cinema 2 in Cotabato City.

Marawi recovery continues with sports meet revival

By Riz Sunio (PNA)

MARAWI CITY -- After being postponed last year due to the Marawi siege, some 86 schools in the Department of Education (Deped) Marawi City Division completed the five-day Palarong Panlungsod 2018 at the Mindanao State University Sports Complex.

“We are extremely excited and happy because our division is now moving on and we were able to track our learners [after the siege]. Most of them are back to their original schools,” said Dr. Pharida L. Sansarona, Deped Marawi Schools Division Superintendent.

The sports meet ran from December 5 to 9.

Last year, in order for Marawi City to participate in the Palarong Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Athletics Association (ARMAA) and Palarong Pambansa despite not holding a city sports meet, they had to select players and schools to train prospect competitors.

“Kaunti lang ang athletes namin last year kasi nung nakabalik kami [galing sa gyera], hindi pa maganda and sitwasyon ng Marawi (We only had a small number of athletes last year because when we returned from the siege, Marawi’s condition was still unstable),” said Dr. Sobaida D. Ampuan, Assistant Schools Superintendent for Senior High School of the DepEd Marawi City division.

This year, 28 private schools, seven public secondary, 49 public elementary schools, and two state universities and colleges (SUCs) feeder schools from the nine districts of Marawi City have sent their competitors for the sports event.

The events in the Palarong Panlungsod are sepak takraw, soccer, chess, table tennis, taekwondo (boys), softball, basketball, baseball, and athletics.

Five schools that were competing in the sports meet are from the City’s most affected area. These schools are currently operating in temporary learning centers, which include the Dansalan National High School, Sagonsongan Elementary School, Sagonsongan High School, Sarimanok Tent City, and Bahay Pag-asa.

“We are able to provide an avenue for pupils and students to forget their traumatic experiences. [The City Meet] shows that they (students) have moved on [from the siege]. Nakabangon na sila (They have already recovered),” Sansarona said.

Winning teams and players of the Palarong Panlungsod 2018, Sansarona said, will be sent to compete in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Athletic Association in February next year.

Rebuilding Marawi: Rising from ground zero

By Kathleen de Villa (Researcher, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The people of Marawi City lost their homes, schools, mosques, churches and for some, even their lives, in the city they called home during the five-month fighting between Islamic State-inspired Maute groups and government troops that started in May 23 last year.

By the time the President declared Marawi “liberated from terrorist influence” on Oct. 17 last year, a fifth of Marawi had already been reduced to rubble.

This was the most affected area, also dubbed ground zero, which was composed of 24 barangays out of the Islamic city’s total 96.

At least 920 militants were killed, while 165 troops and 47 civilians died, according to the military.

Those who survived the war had to literally pick up the pieces left from the war, saving anything they could from the ruins.

On June 28, 2017, two months into the fighting, President Duterte created an interagency task force that would lead the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation program for Marawi City, a month after the start of the fighting between soldiers and IS-inspired terrorists.

Called the “Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM),” it is headed by housing czar Eduardo del Rosario.

The task force’s functions include deploying a quick response team, conducting a post-conflict needs assessment of Marawi, constructing temporary and/or permanent shelters for displaced persons and providing an environment conducive to the revival of business and livelihood activities.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) then formed Joint Task Group Ranao, composed of engineering battalions from the Army, Air Force and Navy. They were tasked to clear the city, especially the main battle area, to ensure that there are no explosives or booby traps left.

As of January, government officials estimated total damage at P11.61 billion, while total losses stood at P6.6 billion.

Rehab starts

Groundbreaking rites for Marawi City’s rebuilding finally pushed through on Oct. 30, after being postponed at least five times.

The ceremony, which paved the way for the start of the rehabilitation, was held at what used to be Rizal Park inside the so-called ground zero of the war.

The start of reconstruction was originally set for June this year but it was moved to July after the Chinese-led Bagong Marawi Consortium, composed of five Chinese and four Filipino companies, was disqualified due to failure to comply with the financial, technical and legal requirements.

In July, Del Rosario said the groundbreaking would be held in August and that the government was in talks with Power China, which was next in line among the private developers that had bid for the project.

Other developers that also submitted unsolicited proposals were dominated by the Chinese—China Railways Group Limited, China Harbour Engineering Company—and the Malaysian firm Alloy MTD.

It was postponed again in September and on Oct. 17, the first anniversary of the retaking of Marawi from terrorists.

But the government has maintained its completion target for the city’s rehabilitation by 2021.

Rebuilding work

The rehabilitation will start with the clearing of debris in a 6-ha area of the main battle area by local company FinMat International Resources Inc. The operation is estimated to cost P75 million.

Aside from clearing debris, the rehabilitation program also called for road widening, installation of power and communication lines underground to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

Construction of vertical structures such as schools, barangay and health centers, a convention center, a grand central market and a centralized sewerage treatment plant would follow.

It would reportedly cost up to P1 billion to build new mosques to replace at least 25 mosques destroyed during the war.

The latest estimated rehabilitation cost was pegged at at least P80 billion.

In a press briefing in April with the officials of the task force, Del Rosario outlined the minimum requirements for the development of Marawi City:

Debris management;
Site development plan;
Area of development shall cover 250 ha;
Concrete improvement and expansion of existing roads;
Both sides of Agus River and Lanao Lake to be developed into parks;
Provision for underground utilities such as water, power and telecommunications;
Vertical development must be in accordance with the National Building Code;

A centralized drainage system that will lead to a sewage treatment plant so that all the waste from the 24 barangays of the most affected area will be treated and cleaned when it flows to the Agus River or the Lanao Lake.

Marshall Plan

The Mindanao Development Authority, which is part of the TFBM, has crafted a P678-billion “Marshall Plan” that will provide a road map for the immediate rebuilding of Marawi City and nearby provinces.

But of the number, P630 billion, the biggest chunk of the budget, will cover long-term projects designed to spur growth in the war-ravaged area and neighboring provinces.

The long-term projects, which is planned to start in 2022, include the P30-billion Picong Industrial Estate Freeport and Philippine Haj Airport in Lanao del Sur province; the P20-billion Tawi-Tawi Special Economic Zone and Freeport; agricultural ecozones allocated with P5 billion; and the P400-billion Mindanao railway project, among others.

Marawi’s Marshall Plan, which was the product of a series of public consultations, also include the rehabilitation of trading centers, boat landings, housing areas, agribusiness support and postharvest facilities and the reconstruction of school buildings.

The name Marshall Plan came from the United States’ comprehensive program to provide economic assistance for the rebuilding of postwar Europe. It was named after Secretary of State George Marshall who proposed the plan in 1947.

Project funding

Funding for the reconstruction would reportedly come from government, private donors and official development assistance. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had said that for the entire Marawi, including ground zero, the government must shell out P72.6 billion until 2022.

In the 2018 national budget, a P10-billion fund had been earmarked for Marawi’s rehabilitation. As of Oct. 10, P4.6 billion had already been released and P3.9 billion was in the process of being released, according to the government.

During a pledging session held in Davao City on Oct. 28, the following countries have committed P32.7 billion in concessional financing on top of P2.4 billion in grants for Marawi City: China, Japan, Spain, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Relief and humanitarian grant assistance, worth P6.9 billion, also came in earlier from the United Nations and its agencies, and from Australia, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The United States has pledged a total of P3.2 billion of funding commitment under the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Marawi Response Project.

But some Marawi residents complained that they had been left out in the crafting of the rehabilitation plan.

Coming home

Ranao Multi-Stakeholders Movement (RMSM), a group of Maranao displaced from Marawi and their supporters, previously said that Del Rosario had been “insensitive to the culture and feelings of the Maranao people.”

Sultan Abdul Hamidula Atar, RMSM spokesperson, had said that the Maranao people were hurt when Del Rosario said they should already move their belongings out of the area to give way to the plan to flatten all structures, including the Grand Mosque.

The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW), another independent dialogue group, expressed its frustration that more than a year after its liberation from terrorists, Marawi “remains beneath the rubble of destruction and desolation.”

The group was also outraged by Del Rosario’s statement that evacuees would only be allowed to go home and build their houses in 2022.

The task force had allowed residents of 24 villages of the most affected area to visit their homes and retrieve their belongings. The visit, called “Kambisita,” ran from April 1 to May 10.

According to the latest Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) report in April, some 353,921 people or 77,170 families from Marawi City and nearby towns have been displaced due to the fighting.

In 2015, Marawi City alone had a population of 201,785. Some 65,256 residents were from the most affected area in the 24 barangays.

As of April, 27,770 families have returned to only 42 of the city’s total 96 barangays.

Only 136 of the planned 4,050 housing units for displaced residents had been built, former Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council secretary general Falconi Millar said in a hearing at the House of Representatives on Nov. 20.

Millar also said that of the planned 5,462 transitory shelters, only 1,522 units had been built.

According to Millar, the government had been facing difficulties in swiftly carrying out the rehabilitation due to the lack of legal land titles of many Marawi residents.

Tuca health station receives upgrading

By Lou Ellen Antonio (LEAntonio/PIA ICCC)

MARAWI CITY, Nov. 7 (PIA ICCC) -- Through the Central Emergency Response Fund of United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) with the Muslim Youth Religious Organization Incorporated (MYROI) implemented the repair of the barangay health station (BHS) in Tuca, Marawi City.

The Jpiego, an international and non-profit health organization, meanwhile provided the installation of water tank and solar to complement the electric power of the BHS.

Marawi City health officer Dr. Ali Daligdig said the newly repaired BHS will cater eight barangays near Tuca such as Dayawan, Toros, Lumbaca Toros, Bacolod Chico, among others.

Daligdig also shared there will be a registered nurse, midwife and a visiting doctor for the BHS who will provide free health services from Sundays to Thursdays, 8 am to 5 pm.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa ating mga partner dahil sa kanila narealize itong good quality na BHS,” said Daligdig. [We are very grateful to our partners that this good quality BHS is being realized.]

Julie Villadolid of World Health Organization said their intervention focuses on health and nutrition, repair and distribution of water supply, among others.

“Masaya ako na marinig na ang ating proyekto ay sama-sama nating naisakatuparan kasama ang ating partners; na merong convergence of services for health and nutrition program,” said Villadolid.

[I am happy to hear that our project is being implemented with the collaborative efforts of our partners; that there is convergence of services for health and nutrition program.]

In September, WHO and its partners provided repair and water system installation for BHS in Barangay Pawak, Marawi City. The synergy among WHO and its partner agencies symbolize their goal to deliver better health services to the local residents of Marawi.

EU vows continued support for Mindanao peace process

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (PNA)

MANILA -- The European Union (EU) has reiterated its support for the Mindanao peace process during the launch of Mohagher Iqbal's book retracing the Bangsamoro's challenges to self-determination.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen was among the attendees at the launch of the book, "Negotiating Peace: An Insider’s Perspective to the Bangsamoros’ Struggle for Self-Determination", in Cotabato City on Monday.

In his speech, the envoy congratulated the author as he cited continuous and extended EU initiatives directly supporting the peace process in Mindanao.

Jessen noted that EU has been the biggest contributor to the multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) since 2006. He said the bloc provides direct humanitarian assistance to the displaced populations in Marawi affected by the siege in 2017.

"Over the last 10 years, the EU has worked to build a long-lasting relationship with OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), based on mutual trust, and on a transparent and efficient policy dialogue for the success of the peace process," he said.

"The EU remains one of the major foreign development partners to provide comprehensive support to Mindanao and the peace process through an integrated approach supporting directly the political settlement and longer-term economic development of Mindanao," he added.

On the same day, Jessen also signed the Declaration of Intent for the Contract between EU and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS). "We are also responding to the needs expressed by MILF leaders to contribute to build their capacities, by signing a declaration of intent with CPCS, and we stand ready to further assist in the coming transition period," he said.

Jessen said the EU is "currently assessing" the modalities for deploying a mission on election observation for the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro.

DepEd-ARMM calls for more support for Marawi schools

By Roderick Abad

MORE than halfway through the school year since the reopening of classes in June, Marawi City still recuperates from the devastating war, especially on the education sector that needs intervention and other forms of assistance both for the educators and learners, according to a top academic official in the region.

“We’re trying to go back to normalcy,” Department of Education-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) Assistant Division Superintendent Ana Zenaida U. Alonto told the BusinessMirror on a sideline interview during the launch of the Marawi Storybook Series held recently at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.

Following the siege that broke in May 2017 displacing thousands of people, 42 out of 69 public elementary and high schools in the war-torn city resumed classes on June 4 this year.

“But 20 [of them] were damaged in ground zero,” she said of the state-run learning institutions located within the most affected areas (MAAs) in Marawi.

Apart from the 40 regular primary and two secondary schools, four other interim schools were built that now accommodate returning students.

Before the strife led by the militant Maute brothers broke, Marawi had more than 22,000 public elementary and high-school students, based on records of the DepEd-ARMM. Its latest actual headcount revealed 17,107 returned to school.

Alonto said the rest of the 5,000 schoolers, whether enrolled or not, are believed to have moved to different areas where they sought refuge.

Asked about the present situation of the educational system in Marawi, she said everything has been put in place given that more than half of the schools are now operational following the stoppage of classes for one school year because of war.

“All our children are okay,” she said, adding some of the students exhibited some change in behavior like being hyperactive or fearful due to their horrible and traumatic ordeals. “Those are manifestations, I think, of what they experienced during the siege. But we are trying to contain them.”

Alonto said they continue with the psychosocial first aid given to the learners months before by the continuity of artworks given as one school activity.

She added the constant supply of hygiene kits and the conduct of school feeding programs by partner-donors and the government’s education arm has helped in their goal of normalcy.

The latter initiative serves as an intervention to encourage students to study again and, at the same time, relieve parents from the stress of sending them to schools given their current situation. Assistance from both the public and private sectors, structure-wise, also poured in to provide the students with conducive learning environments.

“In fact, a foundation has just turned over to us four classrooms with two toilets each,” Alonto said. “What we need now for our students are some uniforms, school kits, hygiene kits and to continue our feeding program to let them stay in school.”

The top education officer also called for help to all of the city’s 1,100 educators who, despite being the hardest hit by the war, are all safe and have returned to teaching.

“I think what they need now are finances, uniforms and soft interventions,” the assistant superintendent said. Capacitating the educators with the latter initiative, she noted, will further enhance the learning process of students.

Looking at their situation in the long term, Alonto expressed optimism on the government’s effort to rebuild Marawi, with President Duterte leading the groundbreaking ceremonies for the debris management of the MAAs late October.

“That’s a signal of a new beginning for Marawi,” she said. “So we are also expecting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of ground zero, where the 20 damaged schools are located, will be finished on time. Our government promised to bring back the normalcy in Marawi by 2022.”

The Marawi siege, she appealed to the public, should not be forgotten as part of the country’s history.

“God forbids, but this can happen also to others. It may be unwanted, but we learned a lot from this war. We want to share to all Filipinos that it was also the time when we saw how the Christians and Muslims helped one another,” she said in reference to the four storybooks that highlight the culture, identity, values and resilience of Maranaos.

These are The Day the Typhoon Came written by Carla Pacis; Water Lilies for Marawi, by Heidi Emily Eusebio-Abad; Marawi Land of the Brave, by Melissa Salva; and Lost and Found: A Song of Marawi, by Randy Bustamante.

Launched by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), together with The Bookmark Inc., during the event called “iRead4Peace” in celebration of the National Reading Month, these series of reading materials catered to children were based on actual experiences of survivors of the Marawi conflict.

“PBSP partnered with us for the storybooks because they wanted to help the children of Marawi, not only to cope but to adjust to their new lives after the siege,” explained Anna Maria Tan-Delfin, GM of The Bookmark.

“This book will serve as a link between our Christian brothers and us in Marawi for the readers to feel and understand what we have gone through during the war. It’s not easy to be coming back [or] rising back again [from what we experienced]. It will take maybe two decades for us to really go back to normalcy,” Alonto noted.

Written in both English and Maranao and brought to life by professional illustrators, the storybooks will be given to every child in Marawi and will also be donated to the DepEd-Marawi to improve the reading skills of children and serve as a tool for peace education and trauma healing.

“Through these storybooks, we hope to not only build a culture of reading, but also help these young survivors rebuild their lives. Moreover, we aim to use these books to shape the continuing dialogue on peace and development in Mindanao,” said Reynaldo Antonio Laguda, executive director of PBSP.

Army activates task force for peace, dev’t in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The Army activated Monday an inter-agency task force as a support mechanism for the government’s anti-drug, anti-illegal logging, peace and development and disaster response initiatives, an official said.

Brigadier General Diosdado Carreon, commander of the Army's 601st Infantry “Unifier” Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, said the Inter-Agency Task Force “Magiting” (IATF-Magiting) aims to attain peace, progress, and prosperity in the area of responsibility of the Army’s 601st Brigade."

The task force is composed of the clustered municipalities of Rajah Buayan, Mamasapano, Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Sultan Sa Barongis, all of Maguindanao and under the area of operation of the 40th Infantry Battalion (40th IB), a unit under 601st Brigade.

Carreon signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Saturday that officially created IATF-Magiting along with Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan, Mamasapano Mayor Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan, Sultan sa Barongis Mayor Ramdatu Angas and Shariff Saydona Mustapha municipal administrator Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan who represented the town mayor.

The reactivation of IATF Magiting, Carreon said, aims to strengthen the collaboration between the above-mentioned municipalities to promote, administer and pursue the following mandates: development support, anti-illegal drugs campaign, peace and security, and disaster response operations.

The activity was witnessed by Col. Joel Abregana, the Army's 601st deputy brigade commander, Lt. Colonel Edgar L Catu, commander of the Army's 40th IB, and other local officials.

Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan lauded the efforts of the 601st Brigade and the 40IB for creating the IATF-Magiting that centered on collaboration and strengthen the binds of the local chief executives to address pertaining to peace and development and disaster preparedness.

Carreon expressed his gratitude for the cooperation and active response of the local chief executives.

“Let us set aside politics,” Carreon said. “This is the right time to strengthen our ties, for the good of our constituents."

Go Negosyo Kapatids support ARMM

By Joey Concepcion (PILIPINAS: NOW IS OUR TIME, The Philippine Star)

When we launched our program “Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu” in December 2016 in Malacañang, the mission was to bring peace and prosperity to the poorest provinces in the country, most of which are in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). We gathered the Go Negosyo community to collectively contribute for the rehabilitation and development of these provinces. And I am glad that they have all heeded the call of nation building.

Fast-forward to today: Mindanao is now one of the biggest contributors to the country’s agro-products, but we continue to help the region towards prosperity. With the help of our big brother partners — Aboitiz, Pilmico, Wilcon Depot, Bounty Fresh, Convergys, Harbest, Vita Coco, Century Pacific, SL Agritech, SM Foundation, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Bo’s Coffee, Marcventures, French Baker, W Group, Rotary Club and Philippine Franchising Association —we continue promoting entrepreneurship through mentorship and agri-livelihood programs.

One of the farms that benefited from our initiative is the Barlin Farms Cooperative in Brgy. Linamon, Ditsaan Ramain, Lanao del Sur, which was recently accredited by the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute as an agricultural learning site with fruits and veggies, free-range halal chickens, organic ducks and goats, and fish culture. Barlin Farms is now a sought-after agri-tourism pick-and-pay farm that supplies its nearby municipalities’ respective community markets.

We also helped rebuild Marawi after the war. Through the help of our programs, the Marawi Baloi Farmers Association was established. The members are also ground-zero, internally displaced people that were the first recipients of Go Negosyo’s veggie training, resulting in a bountiful harvest and income generation for its members.

Numerous farm projects established in ARMM cover commodities such as hybrid rice, cash crops, fruits and vegetables, yellow corn, seaweeds, poultry and more.

We also would like to thank the local government units: Task Force Bangon Marawi, AFP Task Force Ranao, Department of Labor and Employment-Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program, Department of Agriculture ARMM and Lanao Del Sur, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and other partners for supporting these initiatives for our countrymen.

Beyond our goal of providing prosperity through these inclusive programs, we are proud to say that we are also contributing to peace-building in the region. In fact, other stakeholders were inspired to establish similar programs in their provinces after seeing the success of our advocacy. We will continue doing these intiatives anchored on the 3 M’s: Mentorship, Money and Market. Let us all work together to uplift the lives our fellow Filipinos.

ARMM youth essay-writing contest opens

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman is inviting anyone aged 15 to 35 years old and resident of the region to join this year’s essay-writing contest under the theme “Bangsamoro Youth, Bangsamoro’s Future.”

“The contest is one of the highlights of the ARMM 29th foundation anniversary celebration dubbed as “Pakaradjaan 2018,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday.

Winners of the 2018 ARMM Essay Writing Contest would receive a PHP30,000 cash prize for third place, PHP50,000 for the second, and the first prize winner will take home PHP70,000.

“Five other entries will be selected to receive each a consolation prize of P10,000,” Hataman said. He added that entries must have a minimum of 800 words, and a maximum of 1,500 words written in the English language.

The ARMM covers the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur. Contest winners would be announced on Dec. 15, 2018.

Marawi recipients lauded for biz success

By Calvin T. Penaco (PIA-ICCC)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur -- Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the Financial Inclusion for the Recovery of Marawi (FIRM) project lauded recipients who now have profit-generating businesses during the project's culmination ceremony at the Provincial Capitol on Nov. 28.

Some three internally displaced persons (IDPs), namely Monera Candidato, Alikan Hasan, and Rakima Idris shared their success stories.

Candidato said she used the cash assistance as capital for her firewood business.

"Ginamit ko iyong nakuha kong pera para pambili ng kahoy para makakuha ng panggastos sa aking mga anak na nag-aaral. Noon kase, hindi sila makapag-aral kasi wala akong maibigay sa kanilang pamasahe (I used the money to purchase firewood so I could make money for the sustenance of my kids who were still in school. I had not been able to give them money before since I couldn't give them enough for their fare)," she said.

Hasan and Idris also used the cash assistance as capital for their small businesses. Hasan was able to put up a sari-sari store while Idris opened an RTW store.

The NGO executives each delivered a message of inspiration to the IDPs, explained their organization's role in the project, and reaffirmed their continued commitment to Marawi's complete recovery.

Since FIRM made use of digital technology in bringing financial services to IDPs, PayMaya Philippines Vice President Kenneth Palacios cited the importance of continuing to use the services despite the project's culmination.

"Gusto po namin marinig iyong feedback. Ang teknolohiya po, hindi iyan maganda sa umpisa. Dapat natin ito gamitin over and over. Habang ginagamit natin, natututo tayo at mas napapaganda natin. Pasensya na po kung minsan may mga problema. Lahat po iyan kailangan natin marinig nag ma-improve. Over time, lahat po tayo makikinabang (We want to hear feedback. Technology does not work well at the first stages. We need to use it over and over. The more we use it, the more we learn and make it better. We apologize if there are problems. We need to hear all of these so we can improve the service. Over time, we will all benefit from it)," he said.

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) field office manager, Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, Jr., encouraged the IDPs to take advantage of the opportunities that the project had given them.

"Kung ano ang ibinigay ng gobyerno at ng partner agencies, iyan ay alagaan at palaguin niyo (Whatever the government and the partner agencies have given, take care of it and make it grow)," he said.

Meanwhile, Oxfam in the Philippines Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco, thanked all partner groups and organizations that made the project possible, especially that there had been challenges they have had to overcome.

"Let's use everything that we learned from this project, especially on financial literacy, in our future endeavors," she added.

FIRM is a cash transfer project aimed at providing assistance to 10,000 vulnerable IDPs, jointly implemented by Oxfam in the Philippines, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation (AMDF), PayMaya Philippines, Smart Padala and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF).

Former Abu Sayyaf fighters undergo vocational training

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Dozens of former combatants of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and some victims of ASG-staged atrocities in Basilan have undergone vocational skills training designed to integrate and turn them into productive components of the society, according to officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Experts of the ARMM’s Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) trained 52 former ASG fighters, alongside selected residents of ASG-affected areas on bread and pastry-making, welding, carpentry, and dressmaking last November 7 to 8 in Basilan, Regional Information Director Amir Mawallil said in a statement.

The ex-rebels took their oath of allegiance to peaceful life on November 7, preceding the training on each vocational work of their choice, Mawallil said.

John Louie Balagot, ARMM Regional Cabinet Secretary and PAVE program manager, said the training phase formed part of the regional government’s pioneer program allocated with P20-million fund to provide various interventions to former ASG members in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawiu-Tawi.

Balagot, citing official records, said 272 ASG have returned to the folds of law since the introduction of PAVE late last year by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Hataman, in an earlier interview with the Manila Bulletin, said his office had coordinated with higher authorities for the application of PAVE concepts for other violent ideology-inspired militants in ARMM, notably the combatants from the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

Civilian and military authorities in Maguindanao have received in separate ceremonies close to 70 BIFF fighters who opted to live peaceful life. Most of the ceremonies were attended by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division, it was learned.

Protection of teachers from Abu Sayyaf sought in Sulu

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Regional officials on Friday urged leaders in Sulu to help protect teachers from Abu Sayyaf militants abducting even lowly government employees for meager ransom.

The issue was discussed by members of the regional peace and order council (RPOC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during a meeting Friday in Cotabato City.

ARMM Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, a senior member of RPOC, urged elected officials in Sulu to help secure public school teachers from the Abu Sayyaf.

Sulu, touted as the country’s most dangerous province, is a known bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State.

More than 30 school teachers, employees of ARMM’s health and social welfare departments and even construction workers involved in projects of the regional government had been kidnapped in different towns in Sulu in recent years.

“We cannot allow these to happen. The role of teachers in building progressive communities is very important. We need to help each other protect them from the Abu Sayyaf,” Lucman told reporters during a brief break in Friday’s RPOC meeting at the ARMM capitol.

Lucman appealed to the provincial government of Sulu to flex its authority and influence in ensuring the safety of all field personnel of the Department of Education-ARMM.

Lucman recommended to ARMM’s education secretary, lawyer Rasol Mitmug, and Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, director of the regional police, to formulate security plans meant to prevent abductions of public school teachers in Sulu.

In a text message Saturday, Mijares said the Police Regional Office-ARMM will do its best to protect teachers in all towns in Sulu.

“We will act on that recommendation from the RPOC. We will work together with our counterparts in the Armed Forces there in Sulu,” Mijares said.

Members of the RPOC also discussed during their meeting the peace-building thrusts of the ARMM government in Basilan, where more than 200 Abu Sayyaf militants surrendered in the past 24 months.

The now reforming former Abu Sayyaf bandits are being reintroduced into the local communities jointly by PRO-12, the Western Mindanao Command and agencies under the office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Hataman’s office has a current project, the Program Against Violent Extremism, or PAVE, which is meant to hasten the rehabilitation of the erstwhile militants.

The PAVE is being implemented by provincial offices of line agencies under the ARMM regional government.

Lucman said local officials in Sulu can duplicate in the island province the Hataman administration’s PAVE initiative in Basilan.

He said the provincial government of Maguindanao is markedly gaining headway too in its effort to entice members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to return to mainstream society.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and officials of units under the Army’s 6th Infantry Division had worked out the surrender of more than 20 BIFF militants in the past seven months.

The latest to surrender through the efforts of Mangudadatu and the 6th ID was BIFF Commander Banog, whose real name is Parido Balabagan, and his eight followers.

They voluntarily turned themselves in to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion last week and pledged allegiance to the Philippine flag.

Mangudadatu and his younger sibling, Zajid, who is incumbent congressional representative in the second district of Maguindanao, gave the nine BIFF members P20,000 cash each as initial assistance to hasten their relocation to areas far from reach by their former companions.

The BIFF has a practice of attacking the families of members who had bolted out to reform for good.

Lucman lauded Mangudadatu and Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman for their domestic security programs that are now gaining momentum.

“If it can be done in Basilan and in Maguindanao, it can also be done in Sulu and other parts of the autonomous region,” Lucman said.

The ARMM government’s PAVE thrust in Basilan is focused on providing relief and rehabilitation support to Abu Sayyaf members who have returned to the fold of law.

“There are very few Abu Sayyaf militants now in Basilan, only few stragglers remaining and some of them already sent surrender feelers to authorities,” Lucman said.

ARMM boosts reintegration program to quell terrorism

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- At least 52 former members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Friday began their skills training under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), as part of their reintegration to the mainstream society in Basilan province.

The latest batch of TESDA trainees is among 272 rebel returnees from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, who are being given livelihood skills training under the Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE).

John Louie Balagot, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) cabinet secretary, said the initiative forms part of the region’s intensified peace-building efforts to combat terrorism.

PAVE is a reintegration program channeled through skills development training, which received a PHP20-million budget from ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman for its implementation.

On Nov. 7, the latest batch of returnees took their oath during the training induction program facilitated by TESDA in Isabela, Basilan. The training courses include bread and pastry-making, welding, carpentry, and dressmaking.

“The trainees would also receive competency assessments, tool kits and food for the whole duration of the training,” Balagot, who is concurrent PAVE manager, said.

PAVE, being the first model program for the reintegration of former Moro rebels, would also cover assistance to returnees from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, he added.

“The program is primarily designed to provide opportunities to former rebels who surrendered and returned to the folds of the law to become productive members of society,” Balagot said.

PAVE is also engaging with affected communities, especially the youth and women, as the regional government acknowledged their vital role in preventing terrorism.

Aside from the free skills training, he said the returnees would also receive housing and food assistance under the ARMM’s Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development with Growth and Equity Program; Alternative Learning System classes under the ARMM’s education department; farm seedlings under the ARMM’s agriculture department; techno-training on chili production under the Department of Science and Technology; and membership to cooperatives under the Cooperative Development Authority.

In the transition to the new Bangsamoro government, Balagot said the ARMM’s reintegration program is being recognized by the National Peace and Order Council, even as the regional government remains hopeful that it would be officially included in the national government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which is aimed at achieving permanent and peaceful closure to all armed conflicts.

Maguindanao medical-dental services benefit 1K indigents

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- More than 1,000 indigent residents here and those from the nearby towns of Sultan Kudarat province have benefited from a two-day medical mission held by the provincial government of Maguindanao on Wednesday and Thursday.

The inter-agency outreach mission in Buluan town of Maguindanao, dubbed as “Maguindanao Peoples Day”, was a joint initiative of the office of Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP).

Lynette Estandarte, Maguindanao budget officer and concurrent provincial health team leader, said personnel of the social welfare office, provincial hospital and Philippine Information Agency 12 (Soccsksargen) participated in the medical mission.

Aside from health services, the outreach program also served supplemental food for school children and indigent Maguindanaons who availed of the services.

“I am happy the government has this program. We don’t need to go somewhere else because health services are coming our way,” Bai Lilang, one of the beneficiaries from Mangudadatu town, told reporters in an interview here.

Mangudadatu lauded the officials of the PCUP, PIA-12, and different offices under the executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the undertaking.

“If it is for the benefit of my people, who am I to refuse?” Mangudadatu said, referring to preparations and invitations to the provincial government to host the event.

“We immediately agreed to host and help facilitate the activity because it can boost the cordiality between Malacañang and the Moro sectors in Maguindanao,” he said.

Aside from civilian government offices, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) also sent medical workers to help in the outreach program, including the deployment of Army personnel to secure the area and the roads leading to the venue.

The provincial government has scheduled similar events to take place in the coming months in other areas of Maguindanao, especially in far-flung communities.

ARMM officials support joint police-military security plan

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Local officials of Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Thursday vowed to support a joint security plan of the Army and the police in the region.

This, after the 6th Infantry Division (ID), which covers two of five ARMM provinces, and the ARMM police regional office, came up with an implementation plan to ensure that its areas of jurisdiction are safe from bombings and terrorism.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu said his office will help the police and the military attain the objectives of the Army-police joint undertaking, which is aimed at primarily at ending violent extremism in Maguindanao and part of Lanao del Sur.

The police, represented by Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares and the Army, led by Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID chief, recently signed the joint undertaking to minimize, if not totally stop the bombings perpetrated by Islamic State-linked terrorist organizations.

“The main objective is to stop all these violence,” Mijares and Sobejana separately said after the signing of the Implementation Plan (Implan) at the 6th ID officers’ club last week.

Mangudadatu assured Sobejana and Mijares that the Maguindanao provincial peace and order council, which he chairs, will assist in all ways it can to attain the objectives of the Implan.

“We are all for peace, we want our people to live peacefully, that is our common goal and we are one with our state forces,” Mangudadatu said.

Under the Implan, both the police and the military will take measures to restrain terrorist groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Maute terrorist organization and Ansar al-Khilafa Philippines, all linked with the ISIS, from carrying out their violent activities.

Both Sobejana and Mijares appealed to all local officials in their areas of jurisdiction to help the campaign against violent extremism.

Similarly, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said Wednesday he has ordered the regional local government department to coordinate with law enforcers in helping attain the Implan objectives.

“We are one with our military and police in this initiative,” Hataman said in a statement.

Responsible mining code eyed in ARMM

By Nash B. Maulana

COTABATO CITY―The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is endorsing a code for responsible mining to guide the incoming Bangsamoro ARMM administration on the exploration of the region’s natural resources.

ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia described the proposed mining code as one that is “even better than the existing Philippine Mining Act (Republic Act 7942).”

Department of Environment and Natural Resources-ARMM Secretary Hadji Kahal Kedtag raised this during ceremonies at the Gawad Kalikasan 2018 on Tuesday, even as he cited the region’s gains in terms of forest cover which has gained six percent increase, he said.

The DENR-ARMM also awarded 48 organizations and individuals for their role in the protection and preservation of the environment for a balanced ecology.

Alamia, a lawyer, said such a collective commitment to help protect the environment is best expressed by the Supreme Court, no less, in Oposa vs. Factoran, a landmark decision recognizing the doctrine of “Intergenerational Responsibility on the environment in the Philippine legal system.”

Among the awardees were the local government units of Parang, Datu Blah, Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, North and South Upi, Maguindanao, Lamitan and Isabela in Basilan, Lanao Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Also cited were civil society organizations from North Upi and Parang, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Sulu, Lanao Sur, Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. OMI, local news organizations and personalities.

Kedtag said “precise geo-mapping, tagging and monitoring” reveals the region’s forest cover has increased to 53,000 hectares in the last quarter of 2015 from 50,000 hectares in about the same period in 2011.

Kedtag said the massive greening program in the region, for which the ARMM government has initially provided P1 million in local funds for seedling nursery development in Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, had played a major role in the increase.

Kedtag said Maguindanao alone has produced one million seedlings since 2011, many of which have been planted in three watershed areas in Dimapatoy, South Upi and Kabulnan.

He said also substantially reforested were Lanao del Sur’s areas, including a portion of the watershed in Lake Lanao, Basilan’s Biotic Area, and the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi Watersheds.

Kedtag said the mandatory reforestation program of the DENR-ARMM also covers a portion of the Biotic Area Watershed in Lamitan, Basilan which is supposed to be under the operational jurisdiction of the national government.

The ARMM will be replaced by the BARMM, following a plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL or RA 11054) in January.

BOL provides for the extensive revenue-sharing schemes on exploration of natural resources and mineral recovery programs within the region’s territory.

“The end is near,” Kedtag said in apparent reference to the BOL which will abolish ARMM line agencies, except for the Departments of Education, Health and Social Welfare and Development.

But Kedtag said the proposed code will better guide the Bangsamoro government as well as the community on responsible exploration of natural resources and recovery of strategic minerals as well as fossils gas deposits within its territory.

“We will engage appointees to the BARMM Parliament (during the transition period) to consider this measure for more responsible, more protective exploration of natural resources, as well as strategic and natural minerals,” Kedtag said.

Alamia said concessions on mining operations for nickel recovery in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi had been prior granted by the national government under the same national law.

“When I joined the ARMM in 2012, I thought that there was no mining operation in the ARMM; but there is mining in Tawi-Tawi,” she said.

Kedtag and Alamia credited Fr. Mercado, one of the awardees, and a think-tank group for helping draft the proposed code which ARMM officials intend to recommend to officials of the incoming BARMM.

DENR cites ARMM’s top environment advocates for 2018

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DENR-ARMM) acknowledged Tuesday the 10 outstanding environmental stewards and 48 other organizations for their contribution in protecting and preserving the region’s ecosystem.

Some of those given awards during the Gawad Kalikasan 2018 ceremony held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex were the Army’s 603rd Brigade, Foundation for the Philippine Environment, lawyer Randolph Parcasio, the Hineleban Foundation, Inc., the municipal governments of North Upi, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Parang, and Datu Odin Sinsuat, all in Maguindanao; and of Wao, Lanao del Sur.

DENR-ARMM Secretary Kahal Kedtag led the awarding ceremony, assisted by ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, and regional environment assistant secretaries Alindatu Pagayao and Abdelwin Sangkula.

During the ceremony, plaques of appreciation were also given to 48 entities -- including the Philippine News Agency–Cotabato News Bureau, which the regional government said has made its own contribution to making ARMM "environment-friendly. “

"We can’t achieve these milestones of the DENR-ARMM without the help of our strategic partners,” Kedtag said in his speech.

"These groups of people contributed their resources, time and effort in advancing the cause and mandate of the department. It is only fitting that we honor them through the 2018 Gawad Kalikasan,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, deputy commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the military will continue to support initiatives aimed at preserving the environment.

"We are one with the DENR-ARMM in protecting our environment,” Uy said.

13 ARMM LGUs cited as child-friendly municipalities

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Thirteen municipalities from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are set to receive the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Seal of Child Friendly Local Governance (SCFLG) for 2017.

Lawyer Noor Hafizullah Abdullah, DENR-ARMM secretary, identified the child-friendly ARMM municipalities as Parang, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Barira, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, South Upi, and Upi, of Maguindanao; Piagapo, Binidayan, Kapatagan, and Balindong, of Lanao del Sur, and Talipao of Sulu.

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

Abdullah said the SCFLG awarding for the ARMM areas is set on Nov. 10 at Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.

The SCFLG is an annual award given to local government units (LGUs) promoting child-friendly atmospheres.

The LGUs are recognized as they give priority to children in their planning, budgeting, legislation and delivery of services. They make sure that children enjoy their rights of survival, development, protection and participation in their respective areas, Abdullah said.

TOR for Marawi rehab projects will be “Design and Build”

By Carolyn O. Arguillas (MindaNews)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews) – The terms of reference for the Marawi rehabilitation projects will be “design and build,” the National Housing Authority (NHA), the implementing agency said, raising concerns from local contractors.

At the Consultation Conference with Local Executives and Contractors on the “Implementation of the Different Housing and infrastructure Projects in the Most Affected Area” at Limketkai Luxe Hotel here late Tuesday afternoon, hours after the groundbreaking in Marawi City, a contractor stood up to say most of them are small contractors and would definitely not qualify, that they would need to hire design engineers to qualify.

“Hindi po kami sanay sa design although pwede kami sa mga roads but we have to hire highway design engineers, building designers” (We are not used to design although we can do roads but we have to hire highway design engineers, building engineers), the contractor said. He asked the NHA if they have a way of involving the small contractors because in the design and build scheme, “baka tatlo lang ang mag-qualify. Karamihan po puro maliliit” (maybe only three will qualify. Most are small).

Escalada explained that the approach for Marawi rehab would not be on contracting partnerships but on the developer concept. “You help us out because we want as much as possible a better and more reflective of a design or a concept that will be able to represent Marawi.”

He said the NHA has its own housing and technical department and “we can design for you but the thing is, again those designs have been subjected to several criticisms (such as) ‘ano ba yang design para mang Ayala, para mang Makati. All we need is the simplicity of Marawi. We don’t need the Makati, we just want Marawi back.’”

He said some are used to contracting with government agencies that already have prepared plans and designs such as school buildings, etc. but “here is the challenge: in the design and build, you can also contract a designer outside your own limitation. I-factor lang yan as a component of the project cost na yan. Di naman libre yan.”

He cited as example the construction of a school or the Grand Padian (central market) in the MAA, that it must “reflect the virtues, values of Meranaw so you ask somebody to design for you, pagkatpos paid item siya.”

“All of this is subject to negotiation, even the pricing. Give us the right price because our price is also negotiable. We have standards to follow sa NHA, we have certain square meters, kung parking garage yan, kung building yan, kung horizontal yan, kung vertical yan, we have standards per square meier but again it will all depend upon your design. Kung design maganda naman we are negiotiating,” he said.

He also explained that it will be a turnkey project “which may not be very strict in terms of project completion because ang sabi namin, for a turnkey project, it has to be paid at the end of the project. Here, if there are completed components of the project, NHA will pay.”

If they get the project on the 24 barangay halls with madrash, NHA will not wait for the completion of the 24 to pay them, Escalada said. “Kung makatapos ka ng lima, apat (If you finish five, four), then we will pay you. That is the completed component project.”

Escalada urged them not to worry about their limitations.

“Don’t worry about your limitation to design. You can contract a design engineer, an architect, design it and make it as a paid component or paid item in our own negotiation,” he said.

Food aid program benefits 1,000 families in Lanao del Sur

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — More than a thousand families in Lanao del Sur received food rations through a government poverty alleviation program last month.

According to the Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Growth and Empowerment, or ARMM-BRIDGE, on Sunday, 1,050 families in Lanao del Sur received food rations in distibution drives on October 15.

The activity covered Lanao del Sur’s Picong, Kapatagan, Piagapo, Saguiaran, Kapai, Ditsaan, Bubong, Molundo, Lumba Bayabao. Butig and Lumbayanague towns.

The ARMM-BRIDGE is focused on providing impoverished families with four basic amenities — food, shelter, clean water and electricity.

The program was pioneered more than three years ago by the office of ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

According to government data, the program has also built more than a thousand core shelters for poor barangay residents in the region's five provinces—Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and in the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi—in the past 18 months

The core shelter project is a joint initiative of the ARMM-BRIDGE, the office of the region’s Public Works secretary, engineer Don Loong, and the eight district engineers in the autonomous region.

The ARMM-BRIDGE office in Cotabato City said the 1,050 families that benefited from its October 15 food distribution activity in Lanao del Sur each received a sack of rice, milk, cooking oil, eggs, canned tuna, monggo beans, iodized salt, brown sugar and coffee.

Military, PNP forge plan to stop ARMM bombings

(The Manila Times)

COTABATO CITY: The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines signed a Joint Implementation Plan (Implan) to address bombing incidents in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) region.

Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, Police Regional Office 12 (PRO-12) director, and Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID), vowed joint forces in fighting the enemies on the ground.

“By laying down the means to support law enforcement operations through crafting necessary platform to address any form of violence with the aid of a sound and effective Implan, the Philippine Army and PRO-12 police could secure and protect the people in the community against terrorism and violent extremism,” Rasco said.

Similarly, Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander, and Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, director for PRO-ARMM, signed the Implan during simple ceremonies at the 6ID headquarters on Tuesday.

Major John Arvin Encinas, 6ID spokesman, said Implan provides the guidelines and procedures PRO-ARMM and 6ID will follow in coordination with other law enforcement units, government agencies and local government units to reduce the incidence of violence and lessen the vulnerability of ARMM to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.

Encinas said Implan details the action to be taken in case of an IED bombing.

The blasts, believed being carried out by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), have occurred mostly in Maguindanao and parts of Lanao del Sur.

The BIFF, which pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, operates mostly in the second district of Maguindanao and sets off bombs targeting both civilians and military personnel.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, spokesman for PRO-12, described the agreement as “another leap for the AFP and the PNP towards a milestone in achieving success in its law enforcement operations.”

Marawi entrepreneurs get financing help

By Roy Stephen C. Canivel (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Small Business Corp., the microfinancing entity of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has given P6.17 million worth of loans to hundreds of entrepreneurs from the war-torn city of Marawi.

In a statement, DTI said that SB Corp. continued to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs) and uniformed personnel— including their families—who were either killed or wounded during the five-month Marawi conflict last year.

“We are giving our commitment to the IDPs that the administration of President Duterte will continue to seek ways in providing business and livelihood opportunities to help them and Marawi recover,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

As of Oct. 21, SB Corp. has provided livelihood assistance to 422 Maranao entrepreneurs with total loans amounting to P6.16 million through the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program.

P3, a financing program expected to put loan sharks out of business, gives MSMEs access to more affordable credit.

Beneficiaries have availed themselves of loans ranging from P10,000 to P20,000. SB Corp. has earmarked P50 million in loans for Marawi.

The financial assistance to Marawi entrepreneurs followed Administrative Order No. 03, which created an inter-agency task force for the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other affected localities.

Curfew remains in effect in Cotabato during 'Undas'

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Curfew hours are still in effect during the observance of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in this city.

Senior Supt. Rolly Octavio, city police director, said visiting relatives at cemeteries, particularly on Nov. 2, could not spend overnight at the city’s public, Catholic, and Chinese cemeteries as they would be held liable for violation of the “discipline hour”.

The discipline hour is a city ordinance setting forth 10:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. as curfew hours across the city.

“As usual, nobody is exempted from the measure, except for cases of emergency that might occur in the middle of the night,” Octavio said.

The police official said everybody should vacate the premises of the cemeteries and be at their homes as early as 10 p.m. as soon as they hear the curfew warning siren across the city.

“This is for the safety of everyone,” Octavio said.

The city government has maintained the curfew since May last year, shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law due to the Marawi siege instigated by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups.

The city government passed Ordinance 4529 or the “Discipline Hour Ordinance” in support of the Mindanao-wide martial law that has been proven effective in neutralizing lawless elements operating in the city.

This developed as the city government also strengthened its city-wide, nighttime “Ronda Patrol” that requires the city police force, Army support groups, and barangay force multipliers, to scour the interiors of the city’s 36 villages for law violators.

Moreover, Octavio said the implementation of the “No ID, No Entry” policy here would still be upheld even during the period of "Undas" activities that would run up to November 4.

China offers to help develop Mindanao, reconstruct Marawi

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – The Chinese government vowed to help in the development of Mindanao, including infrastructure, connectivity, efficient power, and even in the reconstruction of conflict-stricken Marawi City.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yimade the statement during a joint press conference with newly-appointed Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao Monday.

He expressed confidence that Mindanao will become an important link in the China-Philippines cooperation.

Wang bragged about China’s technology and capability in power generation and signified interest in providing the Philippines with technology, personnel, training, expertise, and financial resources to develop power facilities from various sources such as thermal, hydro, solar, wind, and even nuclear power.

Chinese companies, he said had been extending help to Latin America and Africa to resolve energy issues and sees no why it cannot give a helping hand to the Philippines,he called “our close neighbor and good friend.”

He noted the importance of energy, the driving force for the country’s development and industrialization, as China had encountered similar power challenges when it was just developing.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said China is ready for an anti-terrorism cooperation with the Philippines and vowed to take an active part in achieving lasting peace in the island, even in the post conflict reconstruction of the Marawi, the country’s lone Islamic City that was destroyed by five months of battling Islamic State-inspired militants.

“China is ready for counter terrorism cooperation with Philippines, take an active part in post conflict reconstruction in Marawi so that the local communities will again enjoy a peaceful and tranquil life,” he said.

Wang said China was among the first countries to provide aid when the battle of Marawierupted in May last year, providing the military with artillery and equipment to weed out terrorists. China also provided some 200 million renminbiyuan(P1.54 billion) for the post-conflict reconstruction.

Railway system

Wang vowed that China will help Mindanao, particularly Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte develop a railway system.

“We will take an active part in the construction of Mindanao railway and help improve the internal connectivity of the Mindanao region,” he added.

He said they will assist Davao with the construction of bridges, railways, and expressways.

“We look forward to further increasing interactions between Mindanao and China, so that the development potentials of this region will be further unleashed and act as new momentum for friendship between China and Philippines,” he said.

Wang arrived in the city on Sunday and graced the opening of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Davao.

Australian ambassador visits Marawi tent city

By Riz P. Sunio

MARAWI CITY – Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely visited the Sarimanok Tent City Friday, October 26, as part of the Australian government’s support for the Marawi Recovery Project (MRP) and announced that Australia will increase its support to P975 million (AUD 25 million) to the Marawi rehabilitation efforts.

Gorely graced the ceremonial livelihood assistance handover to beneficiaries of the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) in Sarimanok Tent City on Friday.

Gorely handed over a refrigerator, coconut grater, sewing machine, four motorcycles, and two motorcycle sidecars to CFSI MRP’s beneficiaries.

After the handover, Gorely had a focus group discussion with some beneficiaries of the site and observed the psychosocial activities in the child-friendly space (CFS) in the area.

In her speech, Gorely said that she had wanted to visit Marawi before going back to Australia and had strongly requested to go to the city.

“We recognize the need to provide immediate solutions on longer terms to keep people safe and provide the opportunities to disengaged families to recover their economic independence,” Gorely said.

She also commended the resilience of the evacuees and the MRP’s efforts in providing psychosocial support and protection activities to the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

A statement released by the Australian Embassy also announced that Australia is going to fund school feeding for 50,000 children and food assistance for families displaced from Marawi, education and child protection activities to support children affected by the conflict; and provide technical assistance to Task Force Bangon Marawi for recovery and reconstruction efforts.

CFSI is the grant manager of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s P97.5-million (AUD 2.5 million) support for MRP, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a sub-grantee.

As of October 26, CFSI is supporting 134 families in the Sarimanok Tent City and has already distributed 100 livelihood support while 34 more are about to be given. About 439 individuals are also assisted to be issued with certificates of live birth.

Aside from the Sarimanok Tent City, MRP is also proving protection, livelihood, psychosocial support to evacuation, transitory and Kambalingan sites in Barangays Bito Buadi Itowa, Buadi Sacayo, Sagonsongan, Papandayan, and Guimba.

CFSI has so far identified 521 beneficiaries and has been able to distribute 299 livelihood support, while 222 are set to receive similar support.

MRP aims to promote protection, and the psychosocial and economic recovery of at least 4,000 households (20,000 persons) displaced by the Marawi Crisis. Part of CFSI’s economic recovery efforts are the livelihood support given to the most vulnerable and persons with special needs.

ICC-CABCOM okays 2 Marawi rehab, 5 infra projects


MANILA — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved on Thursday two projects for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

These include the Rehabilitation and Development Plan (RDP) for a Greater Marawi – Stage 2, as well as the proposed programs and projects under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP), for possible official development assistance (ODA) financing.

The RDP for Greater Marawi provides a viable solution for the rebuilding of Marawi City by fully utilizing the capability of various infrastructure projects as catalysts of redevelopment. RDP for a Greater Marawi–Stage 2, under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), involves the following sub-projects:

• Construction of 2-lane Marawi Transcendental Road, Phase 3 (23.90km)

• Construction of 2-lane Malabang Viaduct (1.6km)

• Implementation of five (5) sub-projects under the BMCRRP, namely: Construction of a Main Outlet Drainage System, Rehabilitation/Improvement of Beyaba Damag Open Channel, Construction of Slope Protection Works along Marawi-Bito Road, Construction of Main Drainage Outlet Bangon-Luksadatu Lake Lanao Phase II, Construction of Permanent Rorogagus Bridge

The RDP – Stage 2, whixh is expected to be completed by 2022, has an estimated project cost of PhP6,515.6 million and will be funded through official development assistance.

The ICC-CabCom also approved the list of programs and projects under the BMCRRP for possible ODA financing, with a total cost of PHP3.451 billion.

These include programs and projects in land resource management, social services, physical infrastructure, livelihood and business development implemented by the National Government or support Local Government-implemented projects, and the construction of classrooms for permanent resettlement sites, in view of land-related issues arising from the Marawi siege.

Meanwhile, the ICC-CabCom also approved the fourth phase of the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (PMRCIP), executed by the DPWH, that will put in place flood management infrastructure (i.e., dikes, revetments, floodgates) along the 8 km stretch of the Lower/Middle Marikina River, and construction of the Marikina Control Gate Structure.

The project will cost PHP33,097.58 million and funded through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Committee also approved an increase in cost for the third phase of the same project to PHP9,028.84 million from PHP7,545.16 million, due to necessary additional civil works, including dredging works, to implement the project.

The project covers the 5.4 km stretch of the Lower Marikina River, as well as the 9.9 km remaining sections between Delpan Bridge and Napindan Channel covered under the second phase of the PMRCIP.

On the other hand, the ICC-CabCom approved the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao that will construct, rehabilitate, and improve the 178.43 km road network in ARMM and its neighboring regions.

The project, which the DPWH aims to finish by 2024, has an estimated project cost of PHP13,420.19 million and is proposed to be funded through a loan from JICA.

Lastly, the ICC-CabCom approved in principle the New Clark City High Performance Gymnasium and Sports Museum Project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The project will feature five floors of indoor and outdoor facilities for sports medicine and sports science that will complement the internationally certified sports facilities built at the Phase 1 of the National Government Administrative Center.

The project will cost approximately PHP1.6 billion and will be funded through a grant from the People’s Republic of China.

Model Yakan village in Cotabato City an inspiration for Basilan residents

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Residents of Basilan want the model Yakan village here duplicated in their island province as symbol of the province's desire to bounce back from conflicts and underdevelopment.

The model Yakan, Tausug, Maguindanao, Sama and Maranaw villages inside the 32-hectare regional capitol here of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were built as showcases of the diversity of the peoples in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Barangay captains from Lamitan City, capital of Basilan, hosted this week the activities in the Yakan village, which is open to the public daily.

The barangay officials told reporters Saturday they want a similar model village built in Basilan province, which is seeing renewed interest from investors.

Even Vice President Leni Robredo, who was here Thursday, was amazed at the model villages that she toured along with regional officials led by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

The designated chieftain of the Yakan model village is Laisa Masuhud-Alamia, a nurse and lawyer who is executive secretary of the ARMM government.

Robredo said ARMM residents should continue helping push the southern Mindanao peace process forward for normalcy to spread through the region’s five provinces—Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

ARMM’s Muslim, Christian and Lumad residents are main stakeholders to the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Robredo said good governance will complement efforts to address the nagging security problems in areas of the autonomous region.

Robredo cited as example the improvements in peace and order in Basilan that were brought by efficient governance there.

"Based on conversations with Basilan residents, the level of satisfaction is high. Hopes are high too that there are peaceful and good days for them ahead," Robredo told reporters at the ARMM capitol. Infrastructure development in Basilan

She said the infrastructure projects implemented in Basilan by the current ARMM administration in recent years had ushered in improvements in the area’s security and economy.

Lamitan City barangay officials who helped oversee this week the construction of the Yakan village said putting up model Yakan, Tausug and Sama villages in Basilan will help educate outsiders on how the three communities and their Christian neighbors are together working for peace to reign in the province.

While the Yakan people comprise the majority in Basilan, the island province is also home to Tausug, Sama and non-Muslim residents such as Zamboangueños and Visayan settlers from the nearby Zamboanga peninsula.

Lamitan City Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay said Saturday there are many scenic areas in their 45 barangays where model villages can be established.

Among the potential sites for the model villages is the immediate periphery of the provincial ARMM government center being constructed by the office of Hataman in Barangay Santa Clara in Lamitan City.

“We have a reformist and visionary ARMM governor who is likely to give attention to our wish. We, in Lamitan City, are ready to help him put up one,” Furigay said.

Gov. Hataman running for Congress

Furigay said the participation of the city's barangay officials in managing the activities this week of the Yakan model village was also to manifest support for Hataman's candidacy for congressional representative of the lone district of Basilan.

Hataman is running for a seat in congress in the May 2019 elections. He said the move is meant to pave the way for a smooth transition from the present regional government to a transitory MILF-led government for a new region that will replace the ARMM.

The enabling measure for ARMM's replacement with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM—the Bangsamoro Organic Law—will be ratified in a plebiscite on January 21 next year.

The referendum, to be administered by the Commission on Elections, will seal the fate of the BOL, which is the product of years of peace negotiations.

“He (Hataman) will do a homecoming after serving as ARMM governor for six years and that is something we are so happy about,” Furigay said.

Hataman, who first ventured into politics as Anak Mindanao party-list representative almost two decades ago, hails from Sumisip town in Basilan.

Youth groups receive cash for peace-building programs in Mindanao

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo awarded here Thursday 10 youth groups P25,000 cash each in support of their peace-bulding programs addressing violent religious extremism.

The selection of the 10 organizations, from among 28, was premised on extensive assessments initiated during a prior Angat Buhay Summit facilitated jointly by the Office of the Vice President and the executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In a statement, the Bureau of Public Information-ARMM said it was the United States embassy that provided for the cash awards Robredo released to the 10 peace-advocacy groups.

The US Embassy is a key benefactor of the Angat Buhay program of Robredo’s office.

The office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman augmented the monetary grants with additional P25,000 cash for each of the 10 youth groups.

The counterpart support from the ARMM government was to complement the expansion of their peace-building projects in the five provinces of the autonomous region --- Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The Hataman administration is a staunch supporter of the efforts of the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to put a negotiated closure to the now five-decade secessionist conflict in the country’s south.

In a message, Robredo said it is important to capacitate and empower the region’s youth sector to become efficient in governance and in propagating harmony among southerners.

The youth summit preceding Thursday’s engagement here of Robredo was organized jointly by her office, theYoung Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the United Voices for Peace Network Inc., the ARMM Development Academy and the regional government’s Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs.

Robredo lauded the ARMM leadership for is continuing effort to involve the region’s youth sector in governance and in fostering peace and development in the autonomous region.

The four-day youth summit here was aimed at generating ideas on comprehensive and inclusive community-based peace-building initiatives among participants.

The Angat Buhay program of Robredo’s office is focused on providing local sectors, including the nation’s youth, ample opportunities to engage in collaborative community development initiatives needed to address issues besetting Filipino communities.

While in Cotabato City, Robredo toured the ARMM government’s model ethnic villages depicting the cultural pluralism among the southern Maguindanaon, Maranaw, Iranun, Teduray, Yakan, Tausug and Samah communities.

The mock villages were established by Hataman’s o

ARMM youths rallied to help achieve peace

By Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo hopes the youth from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would embark on projects that will help bring lasting peace Mindanao.

Robredo led the awarding ceremony Thursday for the top 10 project proposals at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City.

Her office gathered members of 28 youth organizations from ARMM provinces for the Angat Buhay Youth Summit held in the city from October 21 to 25 to pitch projects that will promote peace and counter violent extremism in their communities.

Robredo acknowledged the efforts of youth participants, who mostly live in conflict-affected areas, for crafting innovative project proposals.

“You can use your youth to find lasting peace here in Mindanao,” she said.

“That is the mindset that we want to cultivate here—to turn limitations into opportunities—and that is what you did over the past four days,” Robredo said.

A youth arts organization called Okir University Arts Club from Lanao del Sur was named the grand winner at the Angat Buhay Youth Summit in ARMM.

The youth group won this year’s summit for its proposal to hold an art therapy workshop, known as Teaching Artistry Learning Advocacy or TALA, for school children who survived the Marawi City siege.

The group will participate in the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange (APYE) in Seoul, South Korea, in August next year.

The Okir Arts Club and the other nine winners will receive seed funds of P50,000 each—P25,000 from the United States Embassy’s small grants program and the other half from the office of ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, who was also present during the awarding.

For this summit, the Office of the Vice President partnered with the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs, the US Embassy, and the ARMM Development Academy and United Voices for Peace Network.

Youth participants had workshops to equip them with proper knowledge on violent extremism, religion, community sensitivities, as well as the on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

They were also trained to better design, market and implement projects in preparation for the pitching competition held a day before the awarding ceremony.

DTI continues livelihood aid to Marawi folks

By Kris Crismundo (PNA)

MANILA -- Over a year after the guns fell silent in Marawi City, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues to provide livelihood assistance for families and individuals whose lives were turned upside down by the months-long fighting.

In a statement Wednesday, the Small Business (SB) Corp. said disbursement of the PHP100-million budget for livelihood assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and beneficiaries of wounded and killed government troops continue.

SB Corp., DTI’s financing arm, earmarked PHP50 million each for IDPs and government troops wounded and killed in action.

Data from the SB Corp. showed that as of Oct.21, it rolled out some PHP6.16 million to 422 Maranao entrepreneurs as loans under the Pondo sa Pag-asenso at Pagbabago or the P3 Program.

Maranao entrepreneurs were able to secure loans amounting to between PHP10,000 and PHP20,000 each to rebuild their businesses.

For beneficiaries of crippled and fallen troops, SB Corp. released a total of PHP16.53 million in P3 loans. Each beneficiary was able to get loans of between PHP40,000 and PHP100,000.

Under the P3 for Marawi victims, the DTI provided a special loan term with no yield among the borrowers.

“Access to zero-interest microfinancing is very important to entrepreneurs who are starting as well as those expanding their businesses. With the business seminars offered by DTI and the loan packages by SB Corp. for the affected families and residents, we’re speeding up the recovery of the city,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

“We are giving our commitment to the IDPs that the administration of President Duterte will continue to seek ways in providing business and livelihood opportunities to help them and Marawi recover,” he added.

30 MW power plant project to rise in Lanao del Sur

By Meanne Rosales

One diesel-fueled power plant and one renewable energy facility generating a total of 10 to 30 MW of electricity is set to be built in Lanao del Sur.

The P 2 billion-worth venture was approved after Frontier Power Technologies and Allied Service and Nepodragon Power Enterprises signed an agreement with the Sultanate of Marawi at the Mindanao State University on Wednesday.

Sultan Subair Mustapha represented the Sultanate’s decision to provide security and the three-hectare property in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur.

Nepodragon General Manager Engr. Ryan Nepomuceno said their power generation project will be through Retail Competition Open Access (RCO), allowing “contestable customers”– those whose peak demand fall within a set threshold – to choose their electricity supplier.

Construction of the said power plants will start next year.

“Our role is simply to provide additional power. It will still be LASURECO (Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative) that will collect the payments,” Nepomuceno told Manila Bulletin at the MOA signing.

As representative of the Meranaw people, Sultan Mustapha said the Royal Sultanate is committed to supporting the project by engaging local officials to fast-track its implementation.

He also added that providing Marawi and its neighboring areas better access to electricity is the project’s primary goal.

“(I am) looking for a greener pasture for the people of Marawi, like helping provide additional electricity,” the Sultan said.

SSS Basilan offers free on-site mobile UMID data capture

By Nilda T. Delos Reyes (ALT/RVC/NDR/PIA9-Basilan)

ISABELA CITY, Basilan (PIA) – The Social Security System (SSS) Basilan Branch has offered three days free on-site mobile UMID data capture in Lamitan City on October 16–18, held at Mindanao Autonomous College Foundation Inc.

The activity was conducted to help Lamiteños and other SSS members in the neighboring municipalities who wish to apply for Unified Multi-purpose ID (UMID) Card.

SSS Branch Information Officer Marnellie Pastorfide said that members with at least one posted SSS contribution can apply for the UMID card. Members who applied will receive their UMID cards through registered mail. The member’s initial ID card is free of charge.

She emphasized that SSS on-site mobile capture services is part of their programs to bring SSS closer to their members. This was actually their first on-site mobile data capture conducted in Basilan.

The SSS said the three days activity resulted to the processing of 172 members’ application for UMID. SSS is also looking forward to another schedule since there are still 220 members’ applications from Lamitan which need processing and identification capturing.

SSS also announced earlier during the PIA regular radio program “NIM” Noticias Informaccion con Musica at DXNO Radyo Komunidad that their Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) with penalty condonation was extended for another six months or until April 1, 2019. The LRP is one of their agency’s ways to extend assistance to their members who were not able to pay their loan obligations with the SSS on time.

Moreover, more good news for SSS members was also announced to include the SSS Pension Loan Program for qualified SSS retiree pensioners and the revised payment deadlines for contributions for 2018. #SulitsaSSS

Hundreds benefit from Army-led medical mission in Maguindanao

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – A total of 427 villagers benefitted from a two-day medical-dental mission conducted by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) and partners inside this camp in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, over the weekend.

Major Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6ID, said the successful Oct. 19-20 health outreach program was realized together with the Maguindanao provincial medical team, and the Cotabato Regional Medical Center personnel as partners, among others.

“The 6ID only planned for a one-day medical activity but was somehow extended the next day due to the request of the people coming from Barangay Awang and other nearby villages,” Encinas said.

He said 353 and 74 patients benefitted from medical checkup and tooth extraction, respectively.

Military personnel, candidate soldiers, and members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical also voluntarily donated blood that reached a total of 256 bags (115, 200 cc) collected.

Encinas said the activity forms part of the 6ID’s commemoration this month of its 31st founding anniversary.

Cotabato among PH’s most business-friendly cities for 2018

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – This city has been recognized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as among the Top 10 Most Business-Friendly Cities in the Philippines for 2018, and for being the only first-class city to receive a special citation this year.

“The city was given a special citation for assuring business sector growth and confidence by supplementing national government efforts to reduce prohibited drug abuse, criminality and efficient streamlining of business processes,” Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said Friday.

Sayadi said the partnership between the local government and the business sector has also resulted in a 38-percent increase in the number of new business enterprises in the locality.

The mayor received the PPCI awards during the 44th Philippine Business Conference at the Manila Hotel on October 18.

“These awards are for all of us Cotabateños. We all deserve it because we worked together for the common good,” Sayadi said.

She said the awards reflect the city’s commitment to implement good governance reforms to promote trade and investments, employment, transparency, accountability and efficiency in delivering business services to fuel inclusive growth.

“It’s an honor to receive these awards because it simply tells us that Cotabato City has become one of the business hubs in the country,” Sayadi said.

Among the factors that made the city business-friendly are its campaign against red tape, improved peace and order that developed business confidence, effective one-stop shop business permit and licensing scheme, courtesy and speed lane for pregnant women, senior citizens and differently-abled persons getting equal access in processing business permits.

ARMM boosts organic farming promotion

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has demonstrated its all-out support to organic farming through the 3rd Organic Agriculture Congress here, which was attended by more than 400 farmers, agricultural extension workers, students, and other stakeholders from October 17 to 19.

Alexander Alonto, secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)-ARMM, said the event aims to further strengthen the advocacy and promotion of organic agriculture in the region.

He said it is a good venue for farmers and other agricultural stakeholders to be informed about organic food production, modern farming methods, and business opportunities related to organic farming.

“We are really boosting the organic agriculture program in the region in order to attain over-all agricultural growth and development,” Alonto said, adding that the activity will also be a platform to address issues concerning organic farming.

Organic farming enriches the fertility of soil, increases farm productivity, reduces destruction of the environment, and protects the health of farmers and consumers, he noted.

Pheparassan Macapodi, 52, a female farmer from Lanao del Sur, said he and his co-farmers have stopped using chemical fertilizers and pesticides on their farms since 2015 through their continuing knowledge of organic farming methods.

“I am encouraging other farmers who still use chemicals to shift to organic farming and see for yourselves its benefits on your lands,” she said in the vernacular.

Macapodi, who was among some farmers who were presented awards for good agricultural practices, bagged the most outstanding farmer recognition in the individual category and received PHP50,000 from the regional government.

With the anticipated transition of the ARMM to the new Bangsamoro entity, Alonto said the regional government is confident that the farmers will continue to apply the best organic agriculture practices leading to the development and advancement of the region’s organic farming industry.

On Thursday, the DAF-ARMM also opened a trade fair showcasing fresh produce and processed organic products from the different area-components of the region.

The ARMM comprises the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del; Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.

3,000 Cotabato City students join Global Handwashing Day

By Gil Acosta Lao (LBG, GMA News)

COTABATO CITY — Some 3,000 students from the Notre Dame Village National High School joined the city government-initiated simultaneous observance of the Global Handwashing Day, held at the People's Palace grounds and the city plaza.

Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said thousands of youths and adults joined last Wednesday's citywide activity in line with the global cleanliness and healthy lifestyle advocacy.

"We started at around 7 a.m. This handwashing activity is in partnership with the Department of Education 12, UNICEF, and the Rotary Clubs of Cotabato East, Cotabato and Cotabato City South," said Guiani-Sayadi, stressing the importance of personal hygiene for a healthier community.

Global Handwashing Day 2018 was simultaneously observed on October 15, Monday with the theme, “Clean hands: A recipe for health.”

DepEd ARMM pays tribute to teachers

(Bureau of Public Information-ARMM/PIA-10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) paid tribute to the region’s teachers during the celebration of World Teachers’ Day on October 5.

This year’s observance has become more meaningful for hundreds of teachers in the region whose lives were in danger for several months last year.

When the war in Marawi erupted in 2017, schools inside the city had to shut down and living in and near conflict areas have become very risky.

For Mona Miscille Domato, 38, the saying “Teachers are the students’ second parents” hit her hard during the Marawi siege.

As a teacher of Sugod Central Elementary School in Marawi, Mona recounts the effects of the siege for her and her students.

“Schools were closed down during the siege, but I urged my fellow teachers to continue our classes. If the students will be left home, their minds may be corrupted by the war," she said.

True enough, almost every student talked about the number of bombs that dropped in the city daily.

A mother of nine children, Mona said she treats her students as her own. During the siege, she also felt the pain her students manifested. “Many of my students were hungry and helpless. I also felt the hunger and the pain of these children," she said.

Instead of being pulled down by negativity, she took the situation as an inspiration to serve as the students’ second mother.

Continuing their classes despite the siege to provide safe spaces for children, she turned their classrooms into a ‘fun zone,’ allowing her students to talk about the ongoing war casually.

“It allowed us to process all our thoughts. Having an all-Muslim class, we also reflected on the teachings of Islam – that inflicting harm to others is not Islamic,” she said.

By providing a space where students can be ‘afraid’ together, she also found a strong sense of family. “We made a strong support system among ourselves,” she further said.

Now that the war in Marawi is over, she is thankful that her students no longer have to be afraid of their security.

She said that the student population in Sugod Central Elementary School grew this school year because of the influx of children of evacuees from other villages.

“Mas madami na ang mga anak ko ngayon (I have more children now.) I’m more inspired to teach now because despite what happened last year, we remained strong as a community. That’s the key to teaching, when you treat your students as your own, you stand by them through their ups and downs. You become excited for their future,” she said.

A teacher for 16 years, Mona is proud to have produced professionals from her former students.

“My heart is full everyday knowing that the students I have today will give back to our community in the future,” she added.

MMC donates rural health center, facilities to Marawi

By Lady Jean L. Kabagani (LJKabagani/PIA ICCC)

MARAWI CITY (PIA ICCC) -- Makati Medical Center Foundation, in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Marawi City Government will construct a rural health center in Barangay Sagonsongan in this city.

According to 549 Engineering Battalion commanding officer Lt. Col. Jonjie Juguilon of the Joint Task Group Builders (JTG Builders), the rural health center will be equipped with a complete community package of facilities including mosque, school and provide health and medical services to the displaced communities of the Marawi siege.

"The rural health center is basically intended to provide services to the residents residing at the temporary shelters in Barangay Sagonsongan," Juguilon said.

The project of the Makati Medical Center Foundation will also provide for the complete medical equipment and training component for medical professionals who will be manning the said center.

The military officer also said that AFP is committed to help in the realization of the project, noting that the military engineering brigade will immediately work on the construction of the rural health center right after the concreting of the development site.

LGU-Marawi City will take charge of the preparations of ground work for the construction of the center.

The rural health facility is expected to be completed by next month,

“It will take around three weeks to construct the building,” Juguilon stated.

Juguilon expressed optimism on the essence of the health project that will give health services and medical treatment to the residents who are in need most affected by the armed-conflict in Marawi.

“We are not just doing this para lang sa isang mission pero talagang it's a personal conviction naming, parang personal battle namin na talagang we should be sincere in helping the people in Marawi”, he said.

He also assured the residents of the related services from the military troops.

"Hanggang may nangangailangan, tutulong tayo. Kaya, at your service across the land yung commitment naming at hindi matatapos sa rehabilitasyon ang serbisyo natin, mahaba pa ito, hangga’t hindi pa tayo nakakapag-create ng environment that is conducive to economic growth. That's the ultimate goal ng philippine army”, he added.

DTI-ARMM wraps up regional ‘Negosyo’ summit


COTABATO CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DTI-ARMM) successfully wrapped up a three-day Trabaho Negosyo Kabuhayan Konsyumer (TNKK) summit here that gave emphasis to the smart and proper investment of money.

Lawyer Anwar Malang, DTI-ARMM regional secretary, said the summit, which coincided with October’s celebration of Consumer Welfare Month, also focused on consumer protection and business promotion.

The October 9-11 summit, held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of the ARMM in this city, was participated in by some 500 regional business leaders, ARMM employees, and other stakeholders.

Malang underscored the significance of the event to ARMM employees, who will be affected by the transition to a new Bangsamoro region.

“I am sure this will help employees who might be displaced once the new regional government assumes office,” Malang said, referring to the incoming Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that will replace the current ARMM.

During the first day of the summit, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Consumer Act, Price Act, Suggested Retail Price, Senior Citizens Act, Franchise Business Opportunities and fair trade-related laws were adequately covered.

On the second day, Sustainable Business and Financial Empowerment sessions were held, including education on the new currency facilitated by members of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development.

Opportunities were discussed on the last day of the event, through the industry cluster, including those in the coconut, coffee, and abaca industries.

Jahara Ngindig, 33, an employee of the region’s Interior and Local Government department, said the lectures were helpful, especially so that she is among those who will be affected when the new government comes in.

“It taught us how to effectively use a capital for investment,” Ngindig said.

Other parallel activities were conducted simultaneously during the three-day summit. These include jobs fair, skills and training seminars, and business and educational fora.

ARMM completes 1,599 kilometers of roads

(Desk Man, Bureau of Public Information)

COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said it has completed some 1,599 kilometers of roads in five provinces under it from 2012 to 2018.

Data from the Department of Public Works and Highways in ARMM showed 508.685 kms., or 22.075% of the target, are still ongoing as of September 14 this year and that some 183.382 kms., or 7.958%, are yet to be started.

The province of Lanao del Sur received the most number of road projects in the region as it registered a total of 335, followed by Maguindanao with 306, Sulu with 277, and Basilan and Tawi-Tawi with 247 and 173 respectively.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman said these initiatives will make the communities, especially in areas with security problems, feel the presence of the government. The ARMM’s infrastructure program, the governor said, directly promotes peace and development.

He said ARMM constituents will now have easy access to government’s services on transportation, health, trade and industry, agriculture and fishery, tourism, all considered vital in boosting the region’s economy.

The ARMM government has allocated over P35 billion for the implementation of these road projects during the last six years. Many of the road projects are located in conflict-affected and far-flung communities.

Comelec-ARMM exec urges candidates to file COCs early for 2019 polls

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- The Commission on Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Comelec-ARMM) has called on individuals seeking elective posts in the region to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) early for the 2019 midterm polls.

Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, Comelec-ARMM director, said it would be ideal for candidates to submit their COCs promptly so that any problem that might arise may be addressed on time.

The poll body has set Oct. 11-17, 2018, excluding weekends, as the dates for the filing of COCs in connection with the 2019 national and local elections.

“I presume there will be no extension dates for filing of COCs since the printing of ballots will start immediately as scheduled,” Sumalipao said in a radio interview here Monday.

Sumalipao said the poll body is on track regarding its programs and schedules for the polls set on May 13, 2019.

“(The Comelec) will be printing more than 60 million ballots so there should be no room for errors,” he said.

Candidates for next year’s polls -- senatorial, congressional, governor, vice governor, members of the provincial board, city and town mayors, vice mayors and council member seats -- will only have six days to submit their COCs.

Sumalipao also reminded ARMM residents that the ongoing registration will no longer be extended.

“The continuing registration for plebiscite and midterm polls have only until September 29 to register,” he said.

On January 21, 2019, the poll body will administer the referendum for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to determine its new political composition that would comprise the current ARMM provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur, the cities of Lamitan and Marawi; six proposed towns in Lanao del Norte; 39 villages in North Cotabato, and also the anticipated inclusion of Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan.

The BOL is the enabling law for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro forged between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

ARMM's 32-million approved 2019 budget for peace projects

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The transition bloc to oversee the switch from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro entity will have P32 billion worth of operating funds to start with in 2019.

Lawyer Laisa Masuhud-Alamia, executive secretary of ARMM, said Saturday the House of Representatives approved last Thursday without interpellation the region’s proposed P32 billion 2019 budget.

“That was a clear tap on our shoulders, an acknowledgment of our dedication to build peace and development in the autonomous region,” she said.

The amount is earmarked for the operation and salaries of personnel of line agencies and support offices under the ARMM regional government.

A big chunk of it shall also be spent for infrastructure projects and programs meant to boost the socio-economic growth of ARMM’s local Muslim, Christian and Lumad communities.

Alamia and ARMM’s chief executive, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, led the panel that defended in plenary deliberation the region’s proposed P32 billion 2019 budget.

Hataman said they are expecting the transition from ARMM to the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, to begin in early 2019.

The Commission on Elections shall administer on Jan. 21, 2019 the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

The BOL is the enabling measure for the ARMM’s replacement with a Bangsamoro government, to be managed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The creation of BARMM through the BOL is based on two compacts between Malacañang and the MILF, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

The two agreements are products of 19 years of tedious peace talks focused on putting a diplomatic closure to the Moro secessionist issue hounding southern Philippines since the early 1970s.

The BOL has a provision obliging the national government to allocate no less than P50 billion worth of yearly block grant for the peace and development initiatives of the MILF-led Bangsamoro government.

“We are thankful to the house of Representatives for approving the 2019 budget of ARMM without interpellation. The MILF leadership will have something to start with once it gets to the helm of BARMM,” Hataman, now in his second term as regional governor, told reporters on Saturday.

State auditors said Saturday besides ARMM’s fiscal and manpower complements, the Hataman administration shall also turn over to the incoming BARMM about P20 billion worth of infrastructure projects it accomplished in the past six years.

The projects include more than a thousand kilometers of farm-to-market roads, seaports, school buildings, agricultural post-harvest facilities and core shelters for impoverished families.

A matrix obtained from government auditors indicated that Hataman and his public works secretary, engineer Don Loong, also provided the eight District Engineering Offices in the region with no less than P1 billion worth of road building equipment in the past six years as capacity-building program empowering DEOs, in the forefront of implementing infrastructure projects in the five provinces of the autonomous region.

The figurehead of MILF, Hadji Murad Ebrahim, will lead as designated chief minister the Bangsamoro entity during its pioneering stage, pending the election of its regular set of officials.

Murad and senior MILF leaders had themselves listed as voters last week by the Comelec in preparation for the January 21 BOL referendum, to be held in ARMM’s Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces and in certain towns and barangays in Region 10 and in Region 12.

“We will not only turn over whatever state funds there are in the coffers of ARMM agencies. We shall campaign for a `yes’ vote during the plebiscite as well,” Hataman said.

AFP declares Marawi special village polls generally successful

By Wilnard L. Bacelonia (PIA ICCC)

MARAWI CITY (PIA ICCC) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) considered Marawi City special barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections a success after how many years of threats and violence in the city.

The voting started at 7 am and ended at 3 pm with no "failure of elections" recorded completing the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) target on the nationwide scale.

Major Palawan Miondas, Civil Military Operations officer of Philippine Army's 103rd Brigade explained that this special village polls in Marawi City is way too peaceful compared to the previous elections.

"There are small commotions, but we immediately contained the situation and the voting process continued smoothly," said Miondas.

The COMELEC, Department of Education (DepEd) and the security forces also made sure that every Marawi IDP can freely practice their "right to suffrage" by placing voting precincts on Sagonsongan transitional site, Roro Gagos Elementary School and Bito Elementary School for the 24 barangays that are included on the most affected area (MAA) of the Marawi siege.

"We are under the Martial law and the full force of Philippine National Police is here with us. We'll always be here until the election process ends," Miondas assured.

Meanwhile, Marawi City Schools Division Superintendent Anna Zenaida Unte admitted there are some teachers who refused to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

"We have to replace them because they have family ties with candidates but we did not come to a point that we have to replace them with PNP personnel," Unte added.

Barangay officials' role on Kambisita II

The Joint Task Force Ranao (JTFR) is also looking forward on the declaration of the newly elected barangay and SK officials from MAA who are expected to play an important role on the ongoing and future plans of the government for the 24 barangays in MAA.

"After this election, we will gather the newly elected village leaders from MAA to help us implement Kambisita II," Col. Romeo Brawner, JTFR deputy commander said.

JTFR also deployed army personnel on every polling precinct and tasked mobile troops to monitor other voting centers.

Bangsamoro youth leaders commit to peace-building


COTABATO CITY -- Youth leaders and peace advocates committed to build a culture of peace in the Bangsamoro region during the three-day "MasterPEACE: Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament” that concluded here Saturday.

"We want to contribute (to) the Bangsamoro once it is established so that the legislators can see that the youth have a place in all this," said 22-year-old Bryan Gonzales, a member of the National Society of Parliamentarians (NPS).

Gonzales joined 80 other Bangsamoro youth leaders in manifesting their commitment to peace-building efforts.

“Ang maganda dito (summit), sa kabubuuan ng Bangsamoro region, represented ang lahat ng kabataan at naririnig ang kanilang boses (The good thing about this summit is that the youth sector of the entire Bangsamoro region is well-represented and their voices are heard)," he said.

The summit included a simulation program, in which the participants acted as district representatives, party representatives, and sectoral representatives under the prospective Bangsamoro Parliament.

The Bangsamoro youth discussed critical issues in peace-building as they crafted and deliberated on proposed bills at the committee level and plenary sessions.

"'Yung setup ng Bangsamoro Parliament is hard to facilitate because it is very different from Congress (The setup of the Bangsamoro Parliament is dificult to facilitate because it is very different from Congress),” Gonzales said. “At least dito nakikita namin kung ano 'yung mga pagkukulang, mga procedural issues na pwede ma-resolve, and mag-introduce ng reforms (At least in this simulation program, we can see which areas need improvement, what procedural issues need to be resolved, and what reforms we can introduce).”

One of the proposals made during the plenary session was the integration of conflict transformation and peace-building awareness through peace education in the Bangsamoro.

The proposed bills will be turned over to the Regional Legislative Assembly through Assemblywoman Irene P. Tillah.

During her remarks, Youth Peace Ambassador Farrah Ghodsinia encouraged her fellow youth leaders to be proactive in promulgating peace in their respective regions.

"They have to hear our voice and we have to make our voice known because this future community that we have, this future region, it is we who are going to live in it.

That is why we need to be active in achieving what we want to see," she said.

The "MasterPEACE: Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament" is the third installment of the MasterPEACE series and is in line with the celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month every September.

It was spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, co-organized by the Democratic Leadership and Active Civil Society Empowerment (DELACSE) Bangsamoro, a European Union-funded project implemented by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines, and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance. It was done in partnership with the NPS.

Marawi's Darangen Dolls start anew

By Anna Gabrielle Cerezo (ABS-CBN News)

The conflict in Marawi City barely left its residents with anything apart from collapsed structures, bullet-ridden walls, and a pile of debris.

When the siege broke, hundreds of thousands were forced to abandon their homes empty-handed. Months after, the residents remain displaced as they come back only to see their house in ruins.

Among those displaced residents are Sainuddin Malawani Moti and his group of Maranao doll makers.

"Before the Marawi siege, we used to have a thriving business called Darangen Doll Shop," Moti recalled.

The famous Darangen Doll store was one of the many structures in Marawi that suffered extensive damage during the conflict.

"Everything was gone. My shop and collections included," the craftsman said.

Moti first created the unique dolls clad in traditional Maranao garments in 2011. At their peak, there were six pairs of hands working on the craft.

Today, only his sister remains.

The siege forced the group of Maranao dollmakers to seek refuge at the homes of their respective relatives. "They are in Lanao del Sur while we are currently staying at Iligan City in Lanao Norte," Moti explained.

"Although they no longer work for the shop, they still sometimes come by to visit and try to help," he added.


The Darangen Dolls' fame and success is attributed to their colorful garments, which have become the most widely known representation of customary Maranao attire.

According to Moti, each doll is crafted to inspire young Maranaos to embrance their rich and unique heritage.

"I created the dolls in our traditional attire to preserve our very own cultural royal regalia and to encourage our youth to be proud of our very elegant [attire]," he said.

In contrast to the class that Marawi's famous doll exudes, the idea was birthed from Moti's frequent trips to ukay-ukay shops.

"I always noticed files of flashy, glittering clothes from Malaysia and Brunei in volumes at ukay-ukays, so I thought of doing something to recycle it," Moti said.

"After several days of brainstorming, I came up to the idea of making dolls of our own traditional wear. Then it happened."

The Darangen Dolls are dressed in a colorful malong, known as landap, a distinctive Maranao clothing. The blouse is a long-sleeved pull-over bejeweled with glittering buttons.

The doll also sports a pinalot hairstyle, adorned by a headpiece called combong, giving the doll an elegant and regal look from head to toe.

Each Darangen Doll is patiently stitched and glued by hand. Moti believes his creations pay homage to the Maranao's rich culture, something the creator wishes to share with everyone, including those outside the Muslim community.


Moti has brought his dolls to many exhibits locally and abroad. In 2011, the Darangen Dolls won the Children's Choice Award, besting 75 other countries at the Prague Quadrennial Biennial Stage and Theatre Space Design Competition in Czech Republic.

However, the wrath of the conflict the Maute brought to Marawi paid no care to the Darangen Dolls' initiative and reduced the Maranao craftsmen's hard work to rubble.

"It was the unimaginable experience of a lifetime," Moti recalled, saying their escape from Marawi City in May last year felt like an apocalyptic movie scene.

"I felt fear. Fear of the Maute-ISIS presence in the street declaring war, fear of our male family members to be taken as new recruits, fear of the silence in the street of what used to be a busy avenue, and fear of the start of air strikes," he added.

Despite his worries, Moti made an effort to remain composed, saying he knew he had to take charge. He and his family hurriedly fled from their residence empty-handed, and came back home months later without a single thing to salvage.

This, however, did not stop Moti from continuing his mission to share Maranao's rich culture.

Thankfully, the business is picking up. While the shop is gone, the rare dolls can be purchased online.

"For a new start, it's survival. I trust the Almighty Allah for all the blessings," Moti declared.

DAF-Armm spikers rule


THE Davao Optima-bannered Department of Agriculture and Fisheries-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-Armm) ruled the recently-concluded 5th Abreeza Kadayawan Open Volleyball Tournament held at the Abreeza Ayala Mall parking lot.

Veteran-laden DAF-Armm men's team unleashed vicious attacks against youthful Davao City National High School (DCNHS), 25-22, 25-12, in their finals clash to annex the men's division title.

DCNHS took the the silver while the University of Mindanao (UM) Davao settled for bronze after posting a 25-22, 25-12 win over Panabo City.

In the distaff side, 2015-2016 champion Davao Optima, now DAF-Armm, reclaimed the women's crown after surviving a 25-23, 29-27, 25-16 thriller against UM Davao.

UM Tagum, meanwhile, rolled past Philippine National Police Lady Patrollers, 25-15, 17-25, 25-19, to place third in the event organized by Abreeza Ayala Mall in partnership with the Balibolista de Dabaw.

Marawi Bond issuance possible by October, November


MANILA -- Issuance of the planned Marawi Bond may happen either in October or November this year once funding requirements have been finalized, National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon said.

In an interview at the sidelines of the budget hearing in the House of Representatives Monday, De Leon said date of issuance of the planned securities depends on when Bangon Marawi will submit its rehabilitation proposals and the necessary funding.

The government has allocated PHP10 billion under the 2018 national budget for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.

Aside from this budget, the rehabilitation effort has also received funding commitments from other sources.

Earlier, it was reported that the rehabilitation would need around PHP60-80 billion, with the latter including the amount for compensation for those who lost their real properties.

“We’re just waiting for the amount that are needed for the projects to be set by Bangon Marawi,” De Leon said in Filipino, referring to the group established to spearhead the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City.

She said the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) has readied its system for the debt paper issuance, which would be in the form of Retail Treasury Bond (RTB).

“We are ready. We have the online system already in place,” she added.

ARMM, NTC launch radio communications' summit on disasters

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Pinning their hopes on the use of communication equipment in times of disasters, some 500 members of civic action groups and amateur radio clubs from across the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gathered here Friday to participate in the first-ever region-wide radio show summit.

ARMM's Regional Telecommunications Commission and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) launched the Sept. 14-15 summit at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of the ARMM in this city, amid inclement weather.

“We need to update ourselves on the use of communication equipment for coordination or systematic manner to better extend help to affected communities during disasters,” said ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, who is also concurrent head of the region’s social welfare department.

Representatives of the Philippine Amateur Radio Association lectured on the rules and regulations of using ham radio during emergency operations.

An exhibit of radio units, equipment, antennas, and other industry-related products was also showcased.

Alamia, a lawyer by profession, described the summit as “timely” amid the entry of Typhoon Ompong in the northern Philippines.

An update from the weather bureau said the typhoon had hit land in Baggao, Cagayan province in Luzon before dawn Saturday and is headed for Ilocos Norte.

“We have been monitoring this (typhoon) for two days now and what we have done at ARMM-HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) is to coordinate with these radio clubs and civil action groups,” Alamia said.

“(We want you) ham users in communities to communicate with us anytime for us (through ARMM-HEART) to quickly respond to emergencies and humanitarian crisis,” Alamia said.

NTC directors Hamid Bayao of ARMM, Froilan Jamias of Region 12 (Soccsksargen), and Nelson Cañete of Region 11 (Davao Region) were all present to help facilitate the activity.

Capping the activity on Saturday is an NTC examination for amateur radio operators, where passers will be given the Radio Amateur Operator Certificate.

Para sure ang supply! Tawi-Tawi gov’t lauds proposal for establishment of rice trading center

By Noel Punzalan

The local government said that the recommendation of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol was a good news.

“Indeed, a long-term solution. A good news! Thank you Sec. Piñol!” the provincial government said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) chief has proposed to President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the establishment of a rice trading center in Tawi-Tawi to be supervised by the National Food Authority (NFA).

He made the proposal after Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi experienced high prices of rice recently.

According to Piñol, the strategy is expected to curb rice smuggling in southern Philippines as rice supply would be brought in legally by going through quarantine inspections, sanitary and phytosanitary requirements and payment of tariffs.

He has said that the volume of rice to be imported should not exceed the total consumption requirements in the area which is about 200,000 metric tons every year.

ARMM’s pivotal role in Asean barter trade

By Nash B. Maulana

Cotabato City―The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao would be a significant economic factor to reviving the old barter trading with neighboring members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, officials said.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said his meeting with the administration’s economic managers would also delve on revival of barter trading, and enhance trade link with Sabah where rice price is comparatively low.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said inter-regional maritime trading in the south is an old tradition traced back from ancient barter trading, but which is viewed in modern times as a form of smuggling. Nash B. Maulana

Duterte said he would revive the old barter trading through which the country could import cheaper rice from Sabah. Exchanges of goods via inter-regional maritime trading have traditionally determined for the island provinces and neighboring territories their priorities in agricultural and fishery production since the pre-colonial era.

Statistics show that rice production is traditionally low in the country’s southern island provinces: It is pegged in Sulu at 1,914.25 metric tons (MT); in Tawi-Tawi at 582.40 (MT); and Basilan with 2,675.40 MT and these have hardly gained increase since 2015.

ARMM Regional Agriculture Secretary Alexander Alonto Jr. noted that the region’s 2017 rice production increased to 544,486 metric tons by 11.53 percent, and its aggregate area of production also marked a 9.56 percent increase to 212,927 hectares from the 2015 figures.

Sittie Anida Tomawis Limbona, administrative director of ARMM’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, said provincial databank should store the most updated agricultural statistics in aid of research and development (R and D) for the welfare of the incoming Bangsamoro in the ARMM government.

Hataman said 2016 statistics saw the region’s economic performance improving by 0.3 percent when it contributed 0.6 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

It was when the ARMM’s agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector shared 56.3 percent in the region’s output, indicating a 3.0 percent contraction, according to the CountryStat, a project of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Reports of alleged rice smuggling have prompted the Malaysian and Philippine authorities to check on shipment loads to and from coasts closely linked by sea transports along territorial waters of the Philippines and Malaysia.

Ferdinand Marcos in 1975 legalized minor maritime import-export economic activities with Labuan, Sandakan in Malaysia, and Singapore through the barter trading center in Zamboanga City.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the island provinces should be required to develop a “rice production project with an initial 1,000 hectares as pilot area.”

Alonto on Wednesday said Tawi-Tawi had acquiesced to Secretary Piñol’s proposal, adding that reports from provincial agriculture offices also indicated that the other island provinces –Sulu and Basilan―had each committed 1,000 hectares in support of Secretary Piñol’s formula.

P20-M facility for Marawi health, rescue workers up for construction

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Health and rescue workers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will soon have a PHP20-million, three-story operations center in Marawi City.

Once completed, the building will house hundreds of health workers in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province, as well as host the satellite office of the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART) in the area.

On Wednesday, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman inked a memorandum of agreement for the construction of the building, and along with other officials, led its groundbreaking ceremony in Marawi.

“Creating a safe and high-quality health care environment will boost the passion of the health and rescue workers to provide sustainable and essential services to the regional government’s constituents,” the governor said.

Norkhalila Mambuay-Campong, head of ARMM’s Office of the Regional Governor, said the allotment for the project is taken from the special purpose fund of the region’s chief executive.

“Through the many years of existence of the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Lanao del Sur, this is the first time that health workers in the area would have its own building to better serve the people,” said Dr. Alinader Minalang, Lanao del Sur provincial health officer.

Currently, health workers in Lanao del Sur are occupying a small space inside the Marawi City Hall.

Hataman said the ARMM-HEART Marawi satellite office, which will be accommodated in the same building, could provide quicker response during emergencies to Marawi City and municipalities in Lanao del Sur.

Lanao Sur town gets new P20-M public market

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The economy of Saguiaran is expected to get a shot in the arm with the completion of a PHP20-million public market built by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional government.

“Saguiaran must rise up and move on,” ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said during the ceremonial turn over of the public market on Wednesday.

Saguiaran town is next to Marawi City and was equally affected when terrorists laid siege on the Islamic City in May last year.

The 1,200-sq. meter market, which has both wet and dry areas, caters to the displaced families who are rebuilding their lives. Saguiaran currently hosts almost a thousand families from neighboring Marawi City.

Saguiaran Mayor Macmod Muti said the establishment of a public market in his town will not just provide livelihood for internally displaced persons (IDPs) but will also resolve the vehicular traffic problem in the municipality.

“We really need this public market,” Muti said, adding that aside from providing a decent place for market vendors, it will also resolve traffic woes because there is now one marketplace that people would frequent, unlike before when stalls are scattered everywhere.

“We hosted thousands of IDPs from Marawi City who are still here. We respond to their needs by providing them with a marketplace so our economy is alive again,” he added.

In response, Hataman said the public market is just one of the projects of the regional government for Saguiaran as another one is coming.

“I told Mayor Muti to find a sizable lot area that can be developed for housing projects, commerce is very much alive here,” Hataman said.

During the event, the governor thanked two barangay chairmen for donating parts of their adjoining villages for the ARMM housing projects.

“Their gestures are acts of true Muslims, sharing for the less fortunate,” he said.

Hataman said the housing projects would prioritize families who remained in tents and in the town's gymnasium, who are trying to cope with deteriorating health conditions.

Gov’t extends aid to Maguindanao displaced families

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The local government of Datu Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao, backed by the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, has extended emergency aid to some 150 families displaced by armed hostilities in the past four days.

Datu Abdullah Sangki Mayor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said Wednesday the families from the interior barangay of Tukanalugong have fled to safer grounds due to harassment by armed men against a multi-national banana plantation operating in the area.

The displaced families, consisting of about 900 individuals, were given food packs and rice, courtesy of the local government.

Most of the displaced families were workers of Delinanas banana plantation who fled to safety upon sightings of the heavily armed men.

“Later, the gunmen engaged in a firefight,” the mayor said, adding that intermittent clashes between the two groups have been ongoing since Monday.

Members of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion accompanied the local disaster office in distributing assistance to the internally-displaced persons.

Mangudadatu earlier presided over the meeting of the municipal peace and order council, during which, local village officials were directed to immediately alert the local police and military authorities about the presence of armed men in their communities.

She assured the affected residents that the government is on top of the situation and that the police and military authorities are regularly assessing the situation.

Initial reports said the warring groups, whose leaders are yet to be identified, are fighting over parcels of land near the banana plantation.

PCSO opens office in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) highlighted its opening of an office in Barangay Poblacion in this town Tuesday by extending medical assistance to indigent patients here and those coming from other parts of the province.

This capital town, situated in the southern tip of the province, is the hometown of Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

While here, charity workers led by PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan, also turned over a check worth PHP1 million as an endowment fund for the Buluan District Hospital, which intends to improve its health facilities, including the setting up of an intensive care unit.

“This is our way of helping indigent people of Maguindanao, (and) at the same time contribute to the government’s desire to address poverty and rebellion here,” Balutan said.

A former Marine general assigned in Maguindanao, Balutan said he personally saw the difficulty of poor families from remote areas of the province in availing of government health services, particularly those from the so-called SPMS box.

The SPMS box is a military term used on a particular set of areas where the terror group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operate.

It comprises the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan town), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona, all in Maguindanao’s second district.

Health officials in Maguindanao have lauded the PCSO’s decision to put up an office here to facilitate medical assistance to indigent patients.

Campaign period for Marawi village polls starts Sept. 12

By Ferdinand Patinio (PNA)

MANILA -- The campaign period for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in Marawi City will start on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

In a statement Tuesday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said those who are participating in the village and youth polls have eight days from Sept. 12 until Sept. 20 to persuade voters to vote for them in the upcoming polls.

One barangay chairman and seven barangay kagawads will be elected on September 22.

Also, one SK chairman and seven SK kagawads will be elected during the scheduled polls.

A total of 79,289 total ballots will be used in the Marawi BSKE, 53,009 of which will be for village voters and 26,280 ballots for youth voters.

The election period began Aug. 17 and ends September 29.

Last May 14, the barangay and SK polls were held nationwide, except in Marawi City, which was torn by the five-month conflict between government troops and the Maute terrorist group.

Maguindanao guv conferred doctorate degrees

By Edwin Fernandez

COTABATO CITY -- The Royal Institution Singapore (RIS) on Friday conferred two honorary doctorate degrees on Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu for outstanding leadership in the field of governance.

The Maguindanao provincial information office said Mangudadatu received from the RIS the Doctor of Public Administration and Doctor of Humanities degrees during the organization’s 20th International Conference and Conferment Ceremony held at the KJC Hall, Jose Maria College in Davao City.

The RIS also accepted Mangudadatu as a Royal Institute Fellow in the same ceremony.

Anchored on the theme, “Toward Quality and Excellent Educators of the World”, conference organizers recognized Mangudadatu's "excellent leadership in Maguindanao, not only as a local executive but as an official giving primacy to education as a vehicle to social development."

In his speech, Mangudadatu said he has worked hard as a public servant to prove that a Moro leader like him can be a role model for his constituents.

"I strongly believe that education is a key to peace and development in Maguindanao,” said the governor, whose administration has sent more than 5,000 poor constituents to college through the provincial government’s flagship scholarship program. (PNA)

Tawi-Tawi gets P940-M nickel mining project


COTABATO CITY: The Regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-ARMM) on Thursday approved the registration of Mina Vida De Mindanao Corporation’s P940.5 million nickel mining investment in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi, an ARMM official said on Friday.

Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of RBOI-ARMM, said that with this registration, the ARMM has achieved more than 100 percent of its investment target of P2.1 billion for 2018.

The project was endorsed by the ARMM Department of Environment and Natural Resources for registration.

Mina Vida’s non-pioneer registration did not give the project any fiscal incentives; instead, it will only entitle the firm to avail of reduced duties for importation of capital equipment in case they apply within a limited period of time per the guidelines from the national BOI.

The project will employ at least 500 people mostly from the locality of Tawi-Tawi.

On top of national taxes the ARMM levies a five percent regional wealth tax for mining in the region.

Mastura said that for this year, RBOI has registered total investments of P2.2 billion with the bulk of investments in agriculture.

It consists of the banana plantation investment of Ekasalam Agriventures amounting to P290 million and ChocoInvest Corporation’s integrated cacao project worth P1.016 billion, both located in Maguindanao province, and lastly, Mina Vida’s investment of P940.5 million in Tawi-Tawi.

“We have had a good run of investments these past few years despite the challenges. Slowly but surely the return to normalcy in the region is encouraging investors to take a second look at our investment prospects,” said Mastura.

Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman lauded the consistent achievement of ARMM’s annual investment targets from the beginning of his term in 2013.

“Hitting our investment target every year for the past five years is proof of the conducive business environment currently prevailing in the ARMM even as we transition to the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law),” said Hataman.

The outgoing ARMM governor added that he is hopeful that the incoming Bangsamoro government will continue to carry the ball with BOL just the same in the years to come.

2.7M sacks of rice to be delivered to Zambo, ARMM provinces

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY — The government will set aside a total of 2.7 million sacks of rice to Zamboanga Peninsula and the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) amid the reported rice shortages and price increases in basic commodities.

A joint statement of the government’s economic development cluster emailed on September 5 said that at least 4.6 million sacks of rice stored in the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA) will be immediately released while another 2 million sacks previously contracted will be delivered by the end of this month.

The NFA Council has also authorized the importation of 10 million sacks of rice. An initial 5 million sacks will arrive in the country over the next one-and-a-half months while the other half early next year.

Some 12.6 million metric tons of rice equivalent to 252 million sacks are expected to boost the rice supply as the harvest season in many parts of the country has started, the statement read.

The economic cluster consisting of the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), and some members of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council convened on September 5 to counter increasing food prices.

In addition, economic managers would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the “issuance of a directive to further simplify and streamline the licensing procedures for rice imports of the NFA” and urged the Senate to immediately pass the rice tariffication bill within the month.

The economic cluster has also recommended the creation of a monitoring team consisting of National Bureau of Investigation, police, DTI, NFA, and farmer groups for surveillance of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets.

The country’s inflation rate soared to 6.4% in August 2018, surpassing the 5.7% recorded in July, driven by increases in electricity, gas, fuels, fish, rice, personal transport, vegetables, and meat.

In Mindanao, the inflation rate in the ARMM was at 8.1%; Zamboanga Peninsula, 6.4%; Northern Mindanao, 6.1%; Davao Region, 7.1%; Soccsksargen, 7.9%; and Caraga, 4.8%.

To counter the increasing food prices, the economic cluster has pushed to pursue agricultural reforms to resolve supply issues. It maintained that “a committed effort from government in the agriculture sector to boost supply of key products and introduce policy reforms will bring down prices for all Filipino families.”

“This is supported by the lowest regional inflation rate recorded in the food-abundant and agriculturally-productive Region III (Central Luzon) at 3.6 percent,” it added.

Also, the DA committed to replicate the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow imports to be distributed in the wet markets in the country and work with DTI to convene poultry producers and set up public markets where producers can directly sell to consumers to reduce the gap between the farm gate and retail prices.

The economic cluster also took up the opening of importation of sugar to direct users by the Sugar Regulatory Administration and prioritization of the release of essential fooditems in the ports by the Bureau of Customs.

The economic team also blamed on seasonal weather conditions for the price increases of vegetables and that they expect a relief after the typhoon season.

Sept. 11 holiday in ARMM, other Mindanao parts for Islamic New Year

(Politiko Mindanao)

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has declared September 11 a holiday for the celebration of Amun Jadid or the Islamic New Year in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other parts of Mindanao.

In a Memorandum issued on September 4, NCMF said the specific places covered by the Muslim holiday are the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, and the cities of Cotabato, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian and Zamboanga.

The holiday declaration is pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personnel Laws of the Philippines, which recognizes Amun Jadid as a Muslim holiday.

All Muslim government officials and employees in places not covered by the law will be excused from reporting to office in order that they may be able to observe Muslim holiday.

The law also provides that the President of the Philippines may, by proclamation, require private offices, agencies or establishments to excuse their Muslim employees from reporting for working during a Muslim holiday without reduction in their usual compensation.

ARMM opens child minding center in Cotabato

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao opened here Thursday a Child Minding Center (CMC) inside the Sharif Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of the region situated in this city.

Lawyer Rasol Mitmug Jr., ARMM education secretary, and Norkhalila Mae Mambuay-Campong, chief of staff of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG), led the opening of the CMC at the regional library section of the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center building.

The children’s center, an initiative of ORG-ARMM through its gender and development focal point system, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5: p.m. every Monday to Friday.

“I see working ARMM parents bringing their young children to the office because they do not have a place to leave them as they also do not have confidence in the nanny system. Now, we have this child center,” Campong said.

Kamilah Unda, head of the regional library, said the ORG will hire social workers and nurses who will look after the children during their stay in the center, adding that a story-telling activity would also be conducted every Wednesday.

“We could now focus more on our jobs knowing that our children are safe,” Campong said.

Landbank, JICA launch agribusiness loan for Mindanao


MANILA -- Landbank President and CEO Alex Buenaventura, Office Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Cotabato Director Wendell Orbeso, Embassy of Japan First Secretary Tetsuharu Mori, and JICA Philippines Senior Representative Yo Ebisawa led the launching of the program called HARVEST.

It is a welcome news at the heels of the recent passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

HARVEST stands for Harnessing Agribusiness opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of peaceful Transformation.

It is a ‎4.928 billion-yen (PHP2.12 billion) official development assistance from JICA that seeks to provide concessional loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporatives (plantation farm management services), large agribusiness enterprises, cooperatives, and participating financial institutions in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other conflict-affected neighboring areas.

The five-year relending facility will give private enterprises access to a credit line with Landbank for their capital investments, operations, expansion initiatives, and agriculture-related projects that support agri-related economic activities in the region.

“By improving access to finance and stimulating economic activities, the cooperation aims to help create jobs, improve living standards, and contribute to peace building,” Ebisawa said.

In the Philippines, farmers remain one of the country’s poorest sectors, with poverty incidence as high as 34.3 percent, based on a 2015 report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Situations are worse in conflict-affected areas.

"Giving them access to finance will help sustain job creation and raise their productivity through equipment and trainings, while also boosting the region’s agro-industry sector,” Ebisawa added.

Under the program, JICA will provide human resource training and technical assistance to Landbank, agriculture cooperatives, and other participating institutions.

“Through this investment opportunities in agribusiness, we hope to help fuel growth in a region beleaguered by decades-old conflict, and ultimately uplift the quality of lives of our fellow Filipinos in these communities,” Buenaventura said.

Aside from finance support, availers of loans under the HARVEST Project will also be provided with technical assistance in the form of capacity-building trainings, seminars, and market linkage initiatives.

Landbank and JICA signed the loan agreement for the HARVEST Project on Jan. 12, 2017, with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leading the bilateral signing ceremony held at the Malacañang Palace.

Youth power in Bangsamoro

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – A young Moro leader from Basilan province hopes the newly signed Bangsamoro law would end the decades-long armed conflict, and bring a new era of “peace and progress” in Mindanao.

Moro leader Hatima A. Sahal, 24, brims with optimism while sharing how she wants to engage her fellow Moro youth in changing the “image” of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), most especially in her home province and Marawi City, Lanao del Sur that was destroyed by a five-month armed conflict between the military and Islamic State-inspired Maute Group.

Sahal is a member of a group called Action Bridges Aspiration (ABA), which conducts trainings for students, out-of-school youth, and young professionals in Zamboanga, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.

“As a Bangsamoro, what I want is for us to have a peace progress and not just peace process always. After the peace talks, there would be implementation and then they would go back to peace talks again even if they have not yet completed what should have been implemented. We feel it becomes a cycle that keeps repeating,” she said.

She is hopeful that the Moro people can move into a real “peace progress” as the development cannot be attained if the Bangsamoro Law remains just like a “concept paper.”

Sahal encouraged her fellow youth to keep their hope amid the growing “disappointment and frustration” stemming from the failed promises, emphasizing the need to continue their participation in the peace-building activities in their communities.

“I hope they would participate and be aware of what’s happening as this is their right as a youth. They are useful even the OSY (out-of-youth), and the old and young.

All of us have the right. If they do not take part, if something happens, they will not understand because they are not informed,” she said.

She said enlisting the youth for peace-building would keep them away from the influence of the terrorist groups.

Work for peace together

She hopes the people will work together to achieve a peaceful Bangsamoro.

She asked: “When do we have the peace progress? When does this end? When do all of us in the ARMM start working for peace?”

“The government is just there but sometimes we cannot also blame the youth if they no longer want to participate because they might feel it wouldn’t be sustained and it would be gone again,” she said.

Sahal urged the youth to “continue doing what is right and continue what our predecessors have started because we cannot start if we do not know our roots and our identity.” She said it’s important that they know their origin to achieve understanding among people in a multi-cultural society.

A member of the Basilan Young Leaders Program in 2015, she knew the work for peace would not be easy because there would always be “misunderstanding.”

“In peace-building, there will be misunderstanding, for example, when you go to the community to give projects and, of course, projects are targeted for specific beneficiaries. But people will tend to ask why only Basilan? Why only Sulu? Why only Tawi-Tawi,” she said.

But she emphasized that it’s important to keep on despite the difficulty and do not promise the youth something that cannot be done or sustained.

“Some people are afraid of us. ‘They are Muslims.’ We cannot avoid that because it’s what they see on social media. We wish that one day nobody would be afraid of us because everyone is welcome in our home. They can visit us in our place,” she said.

She shared that her province of Basilan has quite a number of beautiful destinations and a melting pot of diverse Moro, Christians, and Lumad cultures.

“In ARMM, there are so many things that we lack. Like our heroes, we are not taught in schools who they are,” she said.

She cited the importance of incorporating in “peace education” the rich history of the Bangsamoro, narratives, and heroes in schools.

Growing up, she felt bad the youth knew nothing much about the heroes in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur,and Maguindanao.

“We consider ourselves leaders but who are our great leaders? Who are they? What are their stories?” she said.

Water tank project launched in Marawi

By John Unson (

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Residents of two conflict-stricken barangays in Marawi City now have additional water supply facilities built with the help of private benefactors.

Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. said Saturday they launched early this week the 20,000-liter stainless water tank projects for internally-displaced families in Barangays Pagasa and Buadi Itowa in Marawi City.

The projects were joint humanitarian interventions of the Lanao del Sur provincial government, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and the Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc.

“We ought to thank these two private entities for helping provide IDPs in Marawi City with clean water that they need every day,” Adiong said Saturday.

Adiong said the new water systems will help ensure good health of children, the most vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

No fewer than 300,000 villagers in Marawi City were displaced by the May 23 to Oct. 16, 2017 conflict there that combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists instigated.

The five-month hostilities resulted in the deaths of hundreds, among them dozens of soldiers and police personnel, and left old historic Maranaos dwelling enclaves in ruins.

The government is still to fully rebuild Marawi City from devastation.

Adiong said they are also to focus, along with the Task Force Bangon Marawi, a series of community water management and hygiene trainings under the Marawi City Water Sanitation and Hygiene Masterplan.

Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur, a component province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The ARMM government awarded last month to beneficiaries dozens of core shelters in Marawi City it constructed for Maranao IDPs.

The executive department of ARMM has also been helping communities affected by last year’s conflict in Marawi City through its Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Growth and Empowerment program.

The program is being implemented in all of ARMM’s five provinces --- Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in mainland Mindanao and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi --- by the office of Gov. Mujiv Hataman, the chief executive of the autonomous region.

The Lanao del Sur provincial government and the office of Hataman also recently embarked on a “people’s day” outreach mission in Marawi City, facilitated by the ARMM government’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team.

Adiong said he is grateful to all government and private entities that have continuously been helping thousands of IDPs in Marawi City and nearby Lanao del Sur towns.

Maguindanao health program to benefit 10K patients

By Edwin Fernandez (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Health officials in Maguindanao are expecting to serve more than 10,000 indigent patients during a four-day “Gamutang Pangkalahatan,” a medical-dental mission that started Tuesday.

Dr. Tahir Sulaik, Maguindanao health director, said people from 36 municipalities of Maguindanao are eligible to avail of health services, including major surgical operations, at the Maguindanao Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) and at the Maguindanao provincial hospital situated in Shariff Aguak town.

Sulaik said this is the third year of the “Gamutang Pangkalahatan,” where more than a dozen government and private physicians converge at the provincial hospital to offer free health services to indigent patients.

“We also conduct mobile health services but major surgical operations are to be done at the hospital in Shariff Aguak,” Sulaik told reporters Wednesday.

Sulaik said the program, his brainchild, aims to provide better health services to the province’s poorest of the poor - in partnership with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. The health services also cater to patients from nearby provinces of Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

“We even have patients from South Cotabato and Lanao del Sur,” Sulaik said, adding that government health services recognize no boundaries.

The IPHO services include major and minor surgical operations, blood donation, dental services, free checkup and distribution of free medicine, pregnancy test, CT scan, ultrasound, X-ray services and many others.

The opening of the Aug. 28-31 outreach program was highlighted by the soft opening of the Hemodialysis Unit inside the Maguindanao provincial hospital.

12,000 households in the ARMM to receive core shelters

(Bureau of Public Information-ARMM/PIA-10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)-- About 12,000 households in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will receive core shelters from the regional government’s anti-poverty program.

The move is to improve shelter and living conditions of poor families here, government sources said.

The 7,000 family-beneficiaries in 2018 and 5,000 in 2017 are recipients of ARMM’s Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Growth and Empowerment (ARMM-BRIDGE), or ‘Apat na Dapat’ program that combats poverty and uplifts the living condition of the poorest households through the provision of basic needs.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman led the groundbreaking ceremony of housing projects and distribution of food supplies in the towns of Matanog, Buldon, and Barira in Maguindanao on August 23.

He also led the ceremonial breaking of the ground for shelter projects in Barangays Pura and Matuber in Datu Blah Sinsuat on August 22. Gov. Hataman said through the BRIDGE program, beneficiaries will soon move into secure homes since among the basic needs of these families is decent housing.

For 2018, the regional government earmarked roughly Php2.9 billion for 7,000 family-beneficiaries.

About 5,000 households in the region benefited from Php1.9 billion allocated under the program in 2017.

Each beneficiary will receive a core shelter in a 120 square-meter lot, food supplies for six months, livelihood training, water and sanitation, and electricity.

Official data from the ARMM-BRIDGE showed that Php2.2 billion is intended for housing projects, Php94 million for water systems, Php180 million for the supply of electricity, Php320 million for food supplies, Php140 million for livelihood, and Php25 million for hygiene kit.

Saira Macauyag, a mother of seven and a beneficiary in Barangay Poblacion in Barira, said she is excited to live in their new home as they currently stay in an abandoned house.

“Matagal ko na pong pangarap na magkaroon ng sariling bahay kaya kapag natapos na po ito, isang katuparan po ito ng pangarap namin (I have been dreaming to have my own house so when this ends, this will be a realization of our dream),” Macauyag said.

For their daily living, Macauyag’s sons are helping her in harvesting corn. “Swerte na po kung may dalawang libo kaming kita mula sa pagha-harvest ng mais sa isang buwan, kaya malaking tulong po talaga ang food supplies ng ARMM-BRIDGE sa amin (It is already lucky to earn around Php2,000 from our corn harvest in a month. Thus, the food supplies from the ARMM-BRIDGE is really a big help to us),” she shared.

Under the livelihood component, her barangay will receive a mini-grocery store and a vegetable production project.

“Masaya kami kasi nakikita talaga namin ang malaking pagbabago sa aming lugar, may maayos na rin kaming kalsada dito, pabahay at marami pang iba (We are very happy because there is really a big change in our area, we now have a good road, housing project and more),” she added.

1 million residents benefit from ARMM program

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY – Some one million residents from 553 barangays across the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have benefited from projects implemented under the ARMM’s Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy (ARMM-HELPS) program.

Anwar Upahm, ARMM-HELPS program manager, said that since the regional government started implementing the program in 2014, it has so far completed 1,062 of the 1,713 infrastructure projects, including the serving of 374 of 563 targeted cooperatives, and building of 257 of 530 barangay halls.

“Projects for 2018 are ongoing and we hope to implement all of these before the transition to the new Bangsamoro entity,” Upham said during a press briefing here Tuesday.

Unfinished projects since 2014 would be finished within this year, Upahm said, adding that they are currently in their 92 percent of physical accomplishment of the ventures.

Other ARMM-HELPS projects include the provision of essential medicine in barangays, construction of barangay birthing facilities and health stations, water and sanitation projects, construction of community learning centers, support to standard madrasah development program, and delivery of basic livelihood and enterprising projects, among others.

Since 2014, the ARMM has earmarked PHP6.2 billion for the high-impact projects in its component provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur, including the cities of therein of Marawi and Lamitan.

Upahm said the ARMM has 2, 490 barangays and that barangay projects beyond 2018 would eventually be handled by the Bangsamoro entity.

ARMM-HELPS is a convergence initiative established to achieve a more coordinated and focused intervention at the barangay level and is regarded as the centerpiece of the regional administration under Governor Mujiv Hataman.

“Our goal is to make our constituents in the region feel that there is a government ready to attend to their needs anytime,” the governor said in a statement.

ARMM flagship program builds progressive communities

(Desk Man, Bureau of Public Information)

COTABATO CITY – With efforts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to build empowered communities, about a million people from 553 barangay or villages have received various projects through the region’s flagship program dubbed ARMM’s Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy (ARMM-HELPS).

Since the program’s implementation in 2014, the regional government has earmarked P6.2 billion for high-impact projects. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman reiterated that the regional government continues to make greater progress in improving the quality of the peoples’ lives, improve their living environment, and create more development opportunities in beneficiary communities.

Official data from ARMM-HELPS showed a total of 1,062 of 1,713 infrastructure projects targeted for construction were completed; 374 of 563 cooperatives were served, and 257 of 530 barangay halls were built. “Projects for 2018 are on-going and we hope to implement all of these before the transition to the new Bangsamoro entity,” Anwar Upahm, ARMM-HELPS program manager said.

ARMM-HELPS is a convergence initiative of the regional government and is regarded as the centerpiece of the Hataman administration. It was established to achieve a more coordinated and focused intervention at the barangay level and eventually to create maximum impact of services delivered to the community.

Projects include provision of essential medicines, setting up of birthing facilities, construction of barangay health stations and water and sanitation projects, construction of community learning centers, support to standard madrasah development program, and delivery of basic livelihood and enterprising projects, among others.

Gov. Hataman said he is confident that before the new Bangsamoro political entity comes in, the ARMM government has already helped improve the lives of at least a million Bangsamoro people and has strengthened local governance in the region.

“Ito naman talaga ang goal natin na maramdaman ng mga kababayan natin na may gobyernong handang tumulong sa kanila,” Gov. Hataman said.

Projects that have not been completed since 2014 will be finished within this year, said Upahm.

ARMM housing project marks new beginning for Marawi IDPs

(Bureau of Public Information-ARMM/PIA-10)

SAGUIARAN, Lanao del Sur, August 13 (PIA)--Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman led the turnover ceremony of a 36-unit housing project for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lumbaca Toros, Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur on August 10. Among the recipients of the housing project are Daud Radia, 65, and his wife Inday, 62.

Before the Marawi siege last year, Daud was a driver, while Inday worked as a tailor. “Hindi kami mayaman, pero noon, mayroon kaming sariling bahay (We were not rich before but we had our own house),” Inday said.

After the displacement brought by the siege, the couple with their four children, found refuge in a small lot in Lumbaca Toros, an area where a tent city was built for displaced families.

Being highly dependent on relief goods provided by the government and without a stable job, the 62-year old driver could no longer work since his license has expired and he has no sufficient money to have his license renewed.

Living inside a tent for a year, Inday said they are constantly worried about their situation – especially for their grandchildren. “Basta umuulan, umiiyak ang mga bata. Natatakot na kasi sila dahil noon, nabagsakan ng kahoy ang tent namin dahil sa lakas ng hangin (Whenever it rains, the children will cry. They were afraid of such since a tree already fell on their tent due to strong winds),” she recalled.

Now that the Radia family has moved from a tent to a housing unit, the couple has gained peace of mind.

“Hindi kami nakakahiga sa kama noon. Matanda na kami, kaya mahirap na ang humiga sa banig. Ngayong may bahay na kami ulit, mas safe na ang pamilya namin at maginhawa na ang buhay namin (We were not comfortably lying on a bed. We are already old. Thus, we find it hard to sleep on a mat. Now, we already have a house again. Our family is safer and life is better),” Inday said.

Daud’s plan is to save money to have his license renewed to jump start the family’s income. “Hindi ko na poproblemahin ang pang-araw-araw namin. Panatag ako sa asawa’t mga anak ko (We no longer worry on our daily expenses. My wife and children no longer worry on anything),” he said.

Inday, on the other hand, will return to tailoring as soon as the family settles down to its new home. “Parang bagong buhay sa amin ito. Iba na ang lugar, pero sa tulong ng gobyerno, makakabalik kami sa kung ano ang buhay namin noon (This is a new life for us. Though the place is new, with the help of the government, we can certainly go back to our old life),” she said.

The new housing project is part of the regional government’s objective to build homes for families displaced by the siege in Marawi. Another housing project with 144 units in Barangay Pantaon, Saguiaran, also for IDPs, will soon be completed.

Meanwhile, Hataman encouraged the IDPs to keep the faith since Islam teaches that with every hardship comes ease.

He also assured displaced residents that government agencies are united in the endeavor to rebuild Marawi.

Muslim cemetery sought in ARMM


COTABATO CITY: The putting up of a Muslim cemetery in every town in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was proposed recently by Maguindanao regional Assemblyman Khadafe Mangudadatu who noted that practically all municipalities and cities in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi do not have public cemetery for their dead.

Mangudadatu attributed the situation to the centuries-old tradition of Muslim sub-tribes of Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, Samal, Iranon and Maguindanaon of burying their departed relatives in private lots or farms.

Assemblyman Mangudadatu’s bill seeks “to require every local government unit to provide at three to five hectares of land for the communal graveyards of Muslims, “explaining that his proposal aimed at providing a decent hallowed resting place for Moroland’s inhabitants, especially the indigent ones living in villages or sitio (sub-village).

Cleric Esmael Ibrahim, a member of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), has strongly endorsed the Maguindanao legislator’s proposed law for regional operation.

He emphasized that Mangudadatu’s measure “will definitely help our impoverished Moro sectors in Muslim Mindanao, considered by many as the country’s most depressed and disadvantaged region.”

Mangudadatu said his family is more than willing to donate a piece of land in their hometown of Buluan for conversion into a Muslim burial ground even before the Regional Legislative Assembly can enact his bill into law.

ARMM welcomes Global Filipino School Program

(PIA-12 Cotabato City)

COTABATO CITY (PIA) – The education department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) welcomes Globe Telecom’s Global Filipino Schools (GFS) Program as it recently opened in the area.

The GFS program is a long-term modern approach to education that allows 21st century learning methods to be introduced and implemented in public schools nationwide.

It seeks to transform select public schools into centers of excellence in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and innovative teaching methods.

Expressing appreciation for Globe Telecom’s partnership, DepEd-ARMM Secretary Rasul Mitmug said the program will help strengthen the skills of teachers in delivering quality education in public schools through the use of modern technology.

Globe Telecom, Incorporated has committed to deliver the GFS program to one high school, or integrated school, to each of ARMM’s schools divisions.

Also, the schools will receive free internet connectivity that teachers and students can use and internet communications technology equipment and proficiency training for teachers on each selected school.

Globe Telecom Senior Vice President on Communications Maria Yolanda Crisanto said, the GFS program now covers all regions around the country including ARMM.

“With the ARMM on board, we are very happy to say that the GFS project is already in the 17th of the 17 regions in the entire Philippines.

“As fast as we can adopt using the internet, using all the latest technologies available to us, the sooner it will be better for all of us. We want to be competitive and a huge part of that competitiveness starts with education, we are glad that ARMM is open with this kind of project,” she said.

Crisanto also said that Globe will be promoting the Digital Thumbprint Program created by Globe Telecom, Optus, and Singtel, which aims at turning the Filipino youth into responsible online citizens.

Cotabato City invites bikers in 1st Mountain Bike Challenge

(Politiko Mindanao)

The city government of Cotabato is encouraging all the bikers in the city to participate in the 1st Mayor Frances Cynthia J. Guiani-Sayadi Mountain Bike Challenge to be held next month.

The local government said those who will be joining the Mountain Bike Challenge on September 1 can choose from any of the two categories: Cross Country and Fun Ride.

There will be age brackets for each category.

The winners will receive cash prizes and medals.

Registration is free, the city government said.

LTO opens extension office in Tawi-Tawi

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr (PNA)

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi -- Land Transportation Office (LTO) Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante on Wednesday enjoined the agency’s personnel to work with dedication and commitment as he led the inauguration of the LTO Extension Office here.

The new office, located along Capitol Road in Barangay Tubig-Boh here, is under the supervision of the LTO Region 9 headed by lawyer Aminola Abaton.

Galvante urged extension office personnel to always evaluate the services they render for the satisfaction of the clientele of LTO.

He said the opening of the extension office aims to bring closer the services of the LTO to the people, especially those in the transport sector.

“There is no need for them to go to Zamboanga City to acquire driver’s license as well as register a vehicle,” Abaton said.

Abaton said the LTO of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (LTO-ARMM) has stopped its operations here in 2000 and the new satellite office was an initiative of Bongao Mayor Jimuel Que.

Que said the construction of the building that houses the extension office was funded through the 20-percent development fund of the municipal government.

He said the extension office will greatly lessen the expenses of those who wanted to acquire driver’s license, as well as those registering their vehicles.

“The one-way boat fare to Zamboanga City from here is already PHP1,200. How about the food expenses? Where to stay there? It is very costly just to acquire a driver’s license,” Que said.

He said it is more costly to register a vehicle since the owner is required to present the unit for inspection to register.

P4.8-b for Marawi rehabilitation in 2019

By Rio N. Araja

The national government is allocating another P4.8 billion for rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City under the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget next year, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said on Sunday.

​Pimentel, a member of the House committee on appropriations, said P3.5 billion will be for disaster funds while the remaining P1.3 billion will go to the engineering brigade of the Philippine Army that will be helping in the reconstruction and rehabilitation program.

“On top of the P3.5 billion, government is also spending another P1.3 billion to support the activation of the Philippine Army’s 55th Engineering Brigade for the purpose of aiding in the restoration of Marawi,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his 2019 budget message to Congress, said he was pleased with the ongoing efforts to revive Marawi City.

The government is already spending P10 billion this year to make Marawi City livable again, complete with homes, schools, places of worship, hospitals, public markets, roads and bridges as well as basic services.

Over 2K displaced Maranaos trained by TESDA to help rebuild Marawi

By Ma. Cristina Arayata (PNA)

MANILA -- Over half of the 5,015 internally displaced people (IDP) of Marawi, who were given free training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), will now help rebuild the war-torn city, a TESDA executive told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

Of the total graduates, 2,360 finished construction-related courses or technical vocational education training (TVET). These graduates will help in Marawi City's rehabilitation efforts, according to TESDA.

In May 2017, the terrorist Maute Group brought violence to Marawi City, killing innocent people, causing fears, burning houses and establishments. The war with military troops ended in October 2017.

"We have 5,015 graduates who had their training from July 2017 to May 2018. There were two training modalities -- community-based and institution-based," TESDA-10 Regional Director Tarhata Mapandi told the PNA.

These graduates were those who went to nearby towns during the siege.

"They were the IDPs in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan. There were also those who went to Saguiran, and those who went back to Marawi City after the siege. We were also able to provide training in barangays there," Mapandi added.

The Marawi IDPs were equipped with knowledge and skills through construction-related courses. Among these were Carpentry, Electrical Installation and Maintenance National Certification (NC) ll, Masonry NC I, Multiple Plumbing, Pipefitting, Tile Setting, Shielded Metal Arc Welding NC l, Heavy Equipment Operator NC ll, Plaster Concrete or Masonry Surface, Technical Drafting, and Electrical Installation & Maintenance NC ll.

The other graduates took courses related to other sectors, such as tourism, electronics, agriculture and fishery, health, garments, and social and community development services.

Under TESDA Secretary Guiling Mamondiong's 17-Point Agenda, the IDPs are among those prioritized in the provision of skills training.

Mamondiong earlier noted that providing the IDPs with the necessary training could help them with their livelihood and help them get back to normalcy.

TESDA will continue helping Marawi IDPs, Mapandi said.

ARMM guv orders DPWH district offices to fast-track infra projects

By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY -- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman has ordered the region’s Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH-ARMM), particularly its district engineering offices, to speed up the completion of pending infrastructure projects in their respective areas.

Hataman said he will also meet local government executives and project contractors to ensure the smooth completion of the projects.

“Our goal here is to check on the status of these projects before the end of the year,” Hataman told reporters here on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the governor met with DPWH-ARMM people, led by regional DPWH secretary Don Mustapha Loong, for updates on the infra-projects during the Governor’s Initiative for Systems Assessment event held here.

Hataman said the deadline for the projects has been set within this year in preparation for the assumption of the incoming Bangsamoro government.

To date, the DPWH-ARMM has paved 1,547 kilometers of roads and built 83 bridges; installed 210 units of water supply systems; constructed 30 flood control structures, 60 units of drainage structures, 89 seaports, and 51 shore protection foundations, among others.

The ARMM comprises the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

DILG undertakes potable water project in Marawi

By Chito Chavez

A P76-million water system project in Marawi City will be undertaken to provide potable water to residents through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG’s) Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig para sa Lahat (Salintubig) program.

DILG officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo M. Año said that more than 2,156 households in Marawi will have access to potable water upon completion of the project by December 2019.

Año was designated by President Duterte as the Martial Law Administrator in Mindanao during the five-month-long Marawi crisis last year. “The DILG has actively contributed to end the Marawi siege and in reclaiming of the city from the local terrorist group. Now the Department continues to be proactive in its rehabilitation,” Año said.

The Salintubig project covers seven priority barangays namely: Sagonsongan, Mipaga, Emie Punod, Basak Malutlut, East Basak, Poblacion, and Moriatao Loksadato.

The DILG and the Department of National Defense as co-leads of the inter-agency Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) Sub-Committee on Security, Peace and Order are responsible for the restoration of water, electricity, and other public utilities in Marawi.

A tripartite Memorandum of Agreement was forged among the DILG Region 10, DILG Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and city government of Marawi for the implementation of the project.

DILG Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security Alexander Macario handed over a check worth P76-million to the City Government of Marawi for the implementation of the Salintubig potable water supply project.

The Salintubig program in Marawi is part of the P10-billion rehabilitation program under the 2018 General Appropriations Act which includes the establishment of potable water system in the priority areas.

Preventing violent extremism

Along with the Marawi rehabilitation efforts, the DILG is also in coordination with other government agencies in preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE).

“The Marawi incident is a complex crisis that is rooted on poverty, corruption, and misled ideology. Countering violent extremism would require not just a whole-of-government but also whole-of-nation approach involving communities,” said Año.

He noted that the DILG has tapped its attached agency, the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), for a localized or whole-of-community approach for PCVE advocacy campaign against terrorism and communist insurgency.

A series of training programs on PCVE has been jointly held by the DILG, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, PPSC and other agencies for an integrated community action against radicalization and extremism that will be cascaded down to barangays and local government units.

AFP, PNP launch first blood bank for Marawi


MARAWI, Lanao del Sur: A blood bank called Project “Daloy” was launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center on Friday.

Spearheaded by the 1403rd Regional Mobile Force Company (RMFC), Project “Daloy (Flow)” refers to the blood shared by local stakeholders for the PNP and AFP personnel based in Marawi and also for Marawi City residents.

A partnership agreement ceremonial signing was held among the 1403rd RMFC, 12th Civil Military Operations Battalion of the Philippine Army, Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) and the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, City Government of Marawi, Integrated Provincial Health Office of Lanao del Sur (IPHO LDS), Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office and the 103rd Special Action Company (SAC), Special Action Force.

Sixty-five blood bags were collected from 92 volunteers who were screened after the blood-letting activity participated in by the strategic partners 1403rd RMFC, APMC, IPHO LDS, 12th Command Battalion, 103rd SAC, together with the Mindanao State University, JCI Kulintang Inc, 107.1 Love Radio and Marawi City residents.

“This is our first step of building a stronger Marawi, by promoting synergy among law enforcement units and stakeholders in Marawi, through the establishment of the blood bank,” Police Chief Insp. Janz Vladimir Hilarion, 1403rd RMFC company commander, said.

The blood-letting activity will be conducted every quarter to promote sustainability of the blood bank project.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Bae Sorayah Alonto-Adiong, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, Vanni Luague, JCI Kulintang Inc. head and APMC officer-in-charge Dr. Luz Saber supported the community-centered project said a “first step toward lifelong commitment” is not only in giving blood and saving life but also in promoting unity toward peace and development.”

Barangay, SK elections in Marawi set on September 22

By Paterno Esmaquel II (

The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Marawi City are scheduled 4 months after the same exercise was held in other parts of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in strife-torn Marawi City will be held on September 22, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced.

In a statement, the Comelec said the barangay and SK election period in Marawi City will run from August 17 to September 29.

The campaign period will run from September 12 to 20, the Comelec added.

The last day for filing statements of contributions and expenditures is on October 22.

The Comelec released these details in Resolution 10412 promulgated on Wednesday, August 1.

Marawi is the site of a 5-month siege between government forces and terrorists, killing 168 government troops, mostly soldiers.

The Comelec earlier decided to suspend the barangay and SK elections in Marawi because of the conditions in the city. Elsewhere in the Philippines, the barangay and SK elections were held on May 14.

Celebrity guests laud traditional cuisines in ARMM

(Bureau of Public Information-ARMM/PIA-10)

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA) -- As the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) showcased its traditional Moro cuisines in a food festival, celebrity guests lauded the region’s unique food and delicacies noting they would promote ARMM in many ways they can. The ARMM food fest puts the spotlight on culinary delights of the region’s five provinces as part of the 29th founding anniversary celebration.

Certified foodie and blogger Erwan Heusaff, celebrity chef Boy Logro, actor-restaurateur Diether Ocampo, BecomingFilipino blogger Kyle ‘Kulas’ Jennermann, and Anak Mindanao Executive Director Djalia Turabin Hataman were among the event’s judges. Chieftains and representatives of each village wore their traditional attire during the event.

Compared with the cuisines of other regions, which tend to be sweetened, the Moros’ cooking remains strongly ancestral utilizing a good deal of coconut milk and rich in ground spices. Typical ingredients include chili, turmeric, sambal, coriander, lemongrass and peanut butter. Because of Islamic laws, pork and alcohol are absent in the native cuisine of the Moros.

“It’s amazing, the culture and beauty that is here in the region, from the people to the colors to the music to the dance to the food; these are incredible,” Canadian blogger Jennermann said. “It is so much hard to promote the food here because you don’t even know how to describe how amazing it is, so everybody in the Philippines should see this and understand this,” he added.

Promoting the culinary delights in the ARMM through his blog, Heusaff said: “I do videos and I think I just want to focus on the food and culture here in ARMM and I will put it into video and hopefully people will get curious and actually realize that they can travel here and experience it for themselves.”

“Food here in ARMM is really good, everything was really surprising, actually most of the dishes I’ve tasted I wasn't familiar (but those were) really tasty and delicious and I’m glad I was able to taste the food here and looking forward to joining more (events),” he added. The food festival marks the celebration of the region’s diverse flavors reflecting its culture and a celebration of cuisine and culinary talents of the Moro people.

Popular actor Ocampo noted that joining the food festival is a great opportunity to share the good news not only to Filipinos but also to the world.

“It’s about time to recognize (our own) – the culinary expertise in our country, something I’ve always been looking forward to. Now that I have the chance to have a great experience with them, I think we should definitely continue doing this in the next couple of years,” Ocampo said adding that experiencing the food in the region is a great surprise for him.

He also suggested that each village should share their recipes so they can share these delights in other parts of the country.

PH, Aussie navies hold maritime security exercise in Tawi-Tawi

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr (PNA)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Philippine Navy's Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) command and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) are holding a joint exercise off the coast of Tawi-Tawi, an official said Tuesday.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, NFWM commander, said the 10-day joint exercise -- the second leg of the 4th Combined PN-RAN Maritime Security Activity -- kicked off on Sunday in Tawi-Tawi.

Lt. Commander Musksin Jasid, NSJM chief, and Lt. Col. Judd Finger of the Australian government’s Joint Task Group 629 led the opening ceremony at the Naval Station Juan Magluyan (NSJM) in Batu-Bato, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.

It was followed by a fellowship games between the PN and RAN delegates and a boodle fight meal, which served as a symbol of brotherhood and strong bond between the two navies.

Medina said the 4th combined PN-RAN Maritime Security Activity includes the conduct of a series of meeting procedures and maritime patrols in the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs), particularly in the waters of ZamPeLan, (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao) Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

He said there will also be various ship drills aboard PN and RAN vessels to test the readiness of the crew.

The PN vessels BRP-Felix Apolinario (PC-395), BRP-Anastacio Cacayorin (PC-387, and Multipurpose Attack craft BA 482 are participating in the activity. The participating RAN vessels are the HMAS Wollongong and HMAS Ararat.

Medina underscored the importance of the activity in enhancing the maritime inter-operability between the PN and RAN and other regional state navies. It also complements the current operations of the Naval Task Group Basilan and Naval Task Group ZamPeLan to pre-empt and end piracy, kidnappings and terrorism in the maritime domain, he added.

The first leg of the Maritime Security Activity was held in the Naval Forces West Area of Responsibility in Palawan from July 16 to 25, this year.

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