ARMM’s HELPS project launched in coastal Maguindanao village PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 March 2013 11:28

Fisherman Bantil Macapadu never thought their old seaside village in Parang town in Maguindanao is to become a beneficiary of a special government services convergence program meant to address the grinding poverty besetting their community.

Even Dimaraw Bangun, the Moro chieftain in Kalutan, the fishing village where officials launched Thursday the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Health, Education, Livelihood, Protection and Security Interventions (ARMM-HELPS) Program, just shrugged off  an earlier notice from their local government unit that relief workers would come to provide services never before delivered to their community.

Kalutan is home to ethnic Iranuns that descended from the Moro communities established in the 14 century by Shariff Mohammad Kabunsuan, a Malay-Arab preacher from Johore, now part of Malaysia, from whose marriage with local women sprung Central Mindanao’s native Muslim groups.

Bangun and his constituents in Kalutan, the remotest Moro enclave in Barangay Making in Parang town in the first district of the Maguindanao, joined in the launching of the ARMM-HELPS project, capped with outreach missions by the region’s health, social welfare, agriculture, and fisheries department.

ARMM Gov, Mujiv Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who led the launching rite, both assured residents of Kalutan of periodic visitations now of government workers to attend to their needs.

Hataman told local residents they can see anytime the ARMM’s agriculture secretary, Engineer Marites Maguindra, who hails from Parang, for their community concerns.

Mangudadatu, whose office is to help implement the ARMM-HELPS in Kalutan through Parang Mayor Ibrahim Ibay, has designated his technical staff, Monina Macarongon, as the provincial government’s immediate liaison link with villagers in Kalutan.

The ARMM, under the project, is to initiate health, social welfare, agriculture, fisheries and security interventions needed to empower local folks and improve their productivity.

Kalutan, whose folks venture out every day in nearby Moro Gulf to fish as their main source of income, is about three kilometers away from Camp S.K. Pendatun, the ARMM’s regional police headquarters.

The launching of the ARMM-HELPS was capped with the distribution by Maguindra, Hataman and Mangudadatu to Kalutan residents of fishing equipment, orchard tree seedlings, and portable grinders for women engaged in the production of native coffee using only traditional wooden mortar and pestle to pulverize roasted beans.

Kalima Sarigumba, a mother of five, said she can now produce more ground roasted coffee beans using a portable hand grinder, which she longed to have, but could not afford to buy one.

Hataman and Mangudadatu and Parang’s municipal mayor have agreed to cooperate in planning the rehabilitation and widening of the road connecting Kalutan to Camp S.K. Pendatun and the town market about a kilometer away.

The ARMM’s agriculture department also assured local folks propagating exportable Carageenan seaweeds of more interventions needed to boost their harvests, and in linking them with buyers in Metro Manila and Visayas.

Processed Carageenan, locally know as agar-agar, is widely used as food extenders, for production of gelatin, and as “taste enhancers” for ice cream and other dairy products. It is also used in medicines and cosmetics as emulsifier.

Hataman and Mangudadatu explained separately to Kalutan residents that the ARMM-HELPS and the humanitarian missions of the provincial government complementing the regional project, are being implemented in support of President Aquino’s Mindanao peace process.

The government’s on-going peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has members residing in Parang and surrounding towns, has socio-economic components aimed at addressing poverty and underdevelopment in areas the GPH and MILF peace panels want to group into a new autonomous political entity under the newly-crafted Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.