COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro government released on Friday, December 23 half of the funds for a public market project in the conflict-torn Al-Barka town in Basilan, essential to the area’s recovery from years of strife.
Mayor Jaydeefar Lajid of Al-Barka received the P7.5 million worth check for the project from Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo during their meeting at the capitol in Cotabato City.
The regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao allotted P15 million for the project.
The once dangerous Al-Barka repeatedly hit the news, from between the 1990s until about seven years ago, due to the deadly clashes in the area between armed groups and state forces that affected thousands of residents and caused widespread poverty in its barangays.
Lajid, the chairperson of the Al-Barka municipal peace and order council, said he and his constituents are grateful to the BARMM government for helping bail them out from poverty and underdevelopment as a result of armed conflicts.
The MILG-BARMM also released funds Friday to local officials for barangay hall projects in Calanogas and Balindong towns in Lanao del Sur and for the construction of a municipal government center in Madalum municipality in the same province.
“We are hoping that the news about Al-Barka in the years to come shall be about its economic growth and how peace and sustainable development in the municipality are taking off,” Sinarimbo said.
The MILG-BARMM is also partly focused on constructing barangay halls in the 63 Bangsamoro barangays in Cotabato province in Region 12, grouped as the Special Geographic Area, or SGA, of the autonomous region.
A number of the 63 Bangsamoro SGA barangays in Cotabato’s adjoining Pikit and Aleosan towns are beset with security issues that the MILG-BARMM is trying to address along with the office of the governor in the province, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, and other Muslim and Christian stakeholders.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Jr., Sinarimbo, Mendoza, who chairs the Cotabato provincial peace and order council, and representatives from the police and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division met in Kidapawan City Tuesday and discussed the peace and order problems in Pikit and Aleosan.
Three from the BARMM parliament — the physician Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., Datu Jambo Matalam, and Kelly Antao — who help maintain law and order in troubled villages through backchannel dialogues, were also present in the forum in Kidapawan City that Galvez, Mendoza, and Sinarimbo jointly presided over.
Sinolinding, who has relatives in Pikit and Aleosan, said the security dialogue was fruitful, capped off with a consensus among participants that included Major Gen. Roy Galido, who is commander of 6th ID, local MILF leaders and representatives from the police, to maximize cooperation in resolving the security woes in both towns.
More than 50 people got killed in one gun attack after another and in hostilities between feuding clans in SGA barangays in Pikit and Aleosan since late 2020.
Mendoza has said her office is open to SGA residents who need security and socio-economic interventions even if their barangays had been detached from Cotabato province and got fused with the Bangsamoro core territory as a result of the 2019 plebiscite for the ratification of the region’s charter, the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Sinolinding said the MILG’s construction of barangay halls in the SGA barangays will project a strong semblance of government in recipient areas, which is necessary for maintaining law and order in the local communities. (JOHN UNSON)