MILF helps protect ARMM projects in Maguindanao PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 11:25

Officials attribute to the backchannel security support of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) their on-going smooth implementation of infrastructure projects in former bandit strongholds in Maguindanao.

The Office of the Regional Governor in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the ARMM’s public works department have more than P100 million worth of on-going projects in several areas in Maguindanao that were previously occupied by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Monday said some projects in the “SPMS box,” a swath of contiguous lands surrounded by the Shariff Aguak, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Salbu areas in Maguindanao, are now more than 90 percent done as a result of the security support from the MILF.

The so-called SPMS box is a military devised geographical locator for BIFF bastions in the towns of Shariff Aguak, in Mamasapano, and in Barangays Pagatin and Salbu in Salibo and Datu Saudi municipalities, respectively.

Without heavy security escort, Hataman, his public works secretary Don Mustapha Loong and Engineer James Mlok of the 2nd District Engineering Office of Maguindanao, on Saturday inspected ARMM’s multi-million projects in Barangay Baital in Rajah Buayan, in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano and in Pendililang District in Datu Saudi.

Among the “peace projects” of the Hataman administration in Tukanalipao is the now 98 percent complete 900-meter concrete farm-to-market road connected to a durable footbridge over a wide river, linking the barangay center to vast tracts of corn farms where MILF rebels and police commandos figured in a deadly 11-hour combat on January 25.

At least 44 operatives of the police’s Special Action Force, 17 MILF members and five civilians were killed in the ensuing encounters, which challenged the 18-year peace efforts of the rebel group and Malacanang.

Loong and Mlok have been monitoring together the projects of the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways in Tukanalipao using drone technology and satellite-based geo-tagging system.

Loong, who is also an engineer, and Mlok also showed to Hataman and reporters the newly-constructed public school building in the center of Barangay Tukanalipao, also implemented after the Mamasapano incident.

The DPWH-ARMM is also still constructing, under the supervision of Mlok, several more school buildings and water system facilities in Tukanalipao and in nearby areas in Mamasapano.

Local officials in Barangay Baital in Rajah Buayan town told reporters on Saturday Hataman was the first ever ARMM governor to visit the area since the inception of the autonomous region via a plebiscite in 1990.

Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan said he and his constituents were elated with the inclusion of Barangay Baital in the Education, Livelihood and Peace Synergy (HELPS) program of the ARMM government.

“These projects are good for our efforts to improve the productivity of farmers and generate more livelihood opportunities for them,” Ampatuan said.

Ampatuan, also a licensed civil engineer, said he is impressed with how Mlok and his staff are implementing infrastructure projects based on calculated engineering specifications.

The ARMM has provided Barangay Baital, a known stronghold of the MILF, with a multi-purpose covered court, a market, a barangay hall and a farm tractor which peasants now use to haul their farm products to an open-field solar dryer the Hataman administration built for them.

Mlok said all of their public works thrusts inside the SPMS box are being closely coordinated with local commanders of the MILF, via the municipal peace and order councils chaired by incumbent mayors.

Hataman, in fact, huddled with a senior MILF leader, the foreign-trained cleric Wahid Tundok, while inspecting last Saturday a newly-constructed ARMM-funded four-classroom building in the campus of the Datu Pendililang Elementary School in Datu Saudi town.

It was the group of Tundok, chief of the MILF’s 108th Base Command, which killed last May 3 the foreign-trained BIFF explosives expert Abdul Basit Usman in Barangay Muti in Guindulungan town, also in the second district of Maguindanao.

Mlok said like Hataman and Loong, he is as grateful to local officials and commanders of the MILF for helping protect ARMM’s costly projects from getting sabotaged by third parties.