Joint UN-BARMM community-empowerment projects launched
NORTH COTABATO – A representative from the United Nations (UN) and Bangsamoro officials launched Monday a community empowerment project for villagers badly affected by armed conflicts in past decades.
The Bangsamoro Integrated Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD), a program that would benefit Barangay Datu Binasing in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato and nearby farming enclaves, is a multi-pronged socio-economic and psycho-social intervention for villagers, among them widows of Moro guerillas.
The activity was capped off with the launching of a newly-concreted 900-meter road that cuts through the center of Datu Binasing and the release of 20 fiberglass river boats and nets to groups of fishermen who catch fish everyday in the nearby 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.
Chetan Kumar, peace and development adviser of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the benefactor of various humanitarian projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), graced the event.
Kumar, together with Naguib Sinarimbo and Eduard Uy Guerra, BARMM’s local government and public works ministers, respectively, and Regional Executive Secretary Abdulrauf Macacua, together launched the 900-meter concrete road.
Barangay Binasing is one of 63 barangays in different towns in North Cotabato whose residents voted in favor of the inclusion of their villagers into BARMM’s core territory during a plebiscite in February 2019.
“If this project is sustained efficiently, we shall have improvements here. We are confident this program will bring many benefits to residents here,” Kumar said in a message during Monday’s event in Barangay Datu Benasing.
The BARMM government and the UNDP are cooperating in pushing the BIRD program forward.
The BARMM public works ministry has been constructing concrete roads since last year interconnecting the 63 Bangsamoro barangays in North Cotabato to trading centers in the province.
Guerra said the Ministry of Public Works will embark on more road projects for the 63 barangays possibly within the year using additional grants from the region’s coffer.
Among those who stand to benefit from the BIRD program are widows of Moro guerillas killed in conflicts that rocked North Cotabato prior to the setting up of BARMM in 2019, a result of 22 years of talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Sinarimbo, concurrent BARMM regional spokesperson, said they are thankful to different entities of the UN and other foreign donor agencies supporting the peace and development initiatives of the Bangsamoro government.
The Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) under Sinarimbo is in the forefront of BARMM’s capacity-building initiatives intended to alleviate the Moro, and non-Moro communities from underdevelopment in the Bangsamoro region. (John Felix Unson/amm)