Thousands now enjoy ‘MagPEACE’project of Governor Mangudadatu PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 13:54

Third year political science student Diamond Dinmay Mimbantas had wished to thank her academic benefactors in a unique way until she finally got a chance to serenade them Monday before  4, 254 other scholars cramped in a gymnasium in Buluan town in Maguindanao.

Of mixed Maranaw and Iranon descent, Mimbantas, who hails from Parang town in the first district of Maguindanao, is studying at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in North Cotabato with the help of the Maguindanao Program for Education and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE)

The MagPEACE project was first pioneered with less than a thousand beneficiaries in 2010 by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, as one of his administration’s approach to address poverty and underdevelopment in the province.

On Monday, 4, 254 scholars — a three-fold increase in number of grantees in just four years — from 18 schools in Central Mindanao converged at the public gymnasium in Buluan town to fill out contracts  for scholarship grants for school year 2013-2014.

Mimbantas, who availed of the MagPEACE three years ago, said she now looks forward to her completion of her course in 2015 through the provincial government’s scholarship program, with a new contract for the current school year.

“If I have survived through my first two years in college, maintaining the cut-off grades for all subjects, there is no reason for me not to graduate in 2015,” Mimbantas  said.

Mimbantas, who brought with her a guitar all the way from their campus in Kabacan town in North Cotabato, tearfully sang Avril Lavigne’s “Wish You Were Here” for provincial officials led by Mangudadatu during Monday’s gathering of MagPEACE beneficiaries and administrators of the 18 schools catering to the program.

“There was no better way to express my gratitude to the people behind this scholarship program. My parents are so poor that there wasn’t any chance for me to be in college if not for MagPEACE,” she said.

Lynette Estandarte, chief budget officer of the provincial government, said some of their scholars are dependents of Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in remote areas in the province.

“The Mangudadatu administration wants the parents of these qualified, deserving scholars to feel that the provincial government is sincere in its effort of empowering Moro communities through education,” Estandarte said.

A fourth year agriculture student of the Upi Agricultural School (UAS) in North Upi town, Aivon Montalbo, who belong to Maguindanao’s non-Moro Teduray indigenous community, said he is grateful to the provincial government for allocating dozens of scholarship slots for deserving members of his tribe.

He said MagPEACE has been fostering strong camaraderie among Muslim, Teduray and Christian scholars in the UAS, as a “dividend” of the local peace-building projects of their administrator, Engineer Sukarno Datukan.

Datukan’s local peace projects aims to propagate unity among students of diverse cultures and religions through “communal efforts” in addressing concerns besetting their campus.

The UAS, located at the town proper of the agriculturally-booming North Upi town in the west of the province, has 474 MagPEACE scholars.

Mangudadatu said he will request the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), chaired by Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat, to create, in “black and white,” a provincial education department to focus on his special projects for students in the province.

Provincial Board Member Bobby Katambak, one of the legal counsels for the MagPEACE project, said he is certain members of the SP will support the creation of such office.

“Apparently the governor’s concept of a provincial education department is one that shall work closely, without being duplicative, with the existing schools division offices in the province of the Department of Education.