Soldiers, Maguindanao outreach team cut shorter route to peace PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 September 2013 14:34

Samier, an 11-year-old son of a poor ethnic Moro peasant in Maguindanao’s Kabuntalan town, was so bothered with how to raise P3,000 until December this year for his circumcision at a private clinic in nearby Cotabato City until he had it last September 4 just for free.
A joint medical-dental team, comprised of soldiers and health workers from the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, circumcised 83 Moro boys in the municipality, and Samier was one of them.
“Thanks to Allah and to the people behind this `civac’ for helping us,” was all what Samier could say in Filipino, after going through the surgical scissor, in what was for him an initiation to manhood.
Moro folks, as a moniker, call “civac,” short for” civic action,” all medical-dental outreach missions in their villages by organizations from outside.
For having circumcised children of impoverished Moro families in Kabuntalan last September 4, the military and members of the governor’s medical outreach team had cut a shorter route to peace that is far from being bloody and destructive.
The provincial governor’s medical-dental mission was assisted by medics from the Army’s 68th Infantry Battalion and the 5th Special Forces Battalion.
The outreach mission was initiated for a humanitarian purpose, as its main objective, and to show to local folks the government’s sincerity in its peace overtures with Mindanao’s Moro sectors.
“It’s a two-pronged outreach mission, aimed at serving Kabuntalan residents as a regular program of the provincial government and, second, to complement President Aquino’s peace initiatives for underdeveloped Moro communities,” explained Lynette Estandarte, chief budget officer of the provincial government.
A total of 2,412 villagers, who have just returned to their homes from evacuation centers after having been displaced by last month’s flashfloods that hit Kabuntalan, also availed of free medical and dental services provided by teams that helped facilitate the outreach mission.
The patients went home bringing with them medicines for various ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, skin diseases, and respiratory infections, supplied by the office of Mangudadatu.
“I am thankful to the provincial government for the free circumcision of children here in Kabuntalan. Five of my grandchildren availed of it. They were also supplied with free antibiotics to prevent their cuts from getting infected,” 65-year-old Mokamad, a farmer, said in Maguindanaon vernacular.
Soldiers also gave 59 villagers free haircuts during the day-long outreach mission in a makeshift barber shop, while a military band played Filipino folk music on a deck of a 6x6 truck parked nearby.
The humanitarian mission of Mangudadatu’s office in Kabuntalan, located in the first district of Maguindanao, was a regular monthly activity of the governor since he was first elected to office in 2010.
Estandarte said the governor’s multi-faceted health, education, and social welfare projects are also aimed at helping promote the cordiality among Maguindanao’s local communities and the provincial government.
The provincial government has provided free medical and dental services to a total of 67,349 people in far-flung villages in continuing outreach missions in Maguindanao since July 2010.
A grade six pupil, Salik, 12, said he is grateful to the organizers of the humanitarian project.
“My brother and I were circumcised for free. Our parents cannot afford the cost of circumcision in a private medical clinic or hospital because my father is only a fisherman and we have not even recovered yet from the sufferings caused by the recent floods that hit our village,” he said in Filipino.