Friday, 25 May 2012 10:56
Officer in-charge governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Mujiv S. Hataman yesterday said that decades of government neglect have bred kidnapping and other forms of crime in conflict-torn southern islands.
"The people of the island Muslim provinces had the right to say that they have not felt the presence of the government in all past administrations,” he told local reporters here.
The acting regional governor said the situation gave rise to complex peace and order problem that included rampant kidnapping in recent past.
On Tuesday, Hataman converged with local fisher folks of Basilan province where he distributed fishing bancas and units of payao to boost livelihood activity in Saluping island.
He said the regional government is now armed not with high-powered firearms that are usually seen along with politicians, but with ARMM-HELPS — which stands for Health Education Livelihood Political Reforms and Synergy.
The chief executive said the only way to end their feeling of neglect that breeds criminality, including kidnapping, was an aggressive push for livelihood programs and a high aim for education.
“We gave four more units in Tabuan-Lasa; two each to village-based people’s organization. These efforts are part of what we call HELPS,” Hataman said said.
He added: “This (HELPS) is our thrust after 100 days. From Day 1 in office, we have focused on governance…. I mean reform efforts still constitute a continuing endeavor…We still have to work more on the socio-economic aspect of development, so the people would feel the essence of reforms in good governance; and bear the fruits of what we are doing to be able to help them."
But Hataman said not all of the island provinces are gripped in fear of violence, citing development in far away Turtle Island in Tawi-Tawi, which is covered by the country’s tourism map of potential ecotourism spots.
Alternative education, he pointed out, proved effective for residents of the island, considered the last frontier of the south. The ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP) which is supported by the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has introduced Learning Livelihood and Food Sufficiency (LLFS) Program for mothers and women of the island, said ASFP Manager Aba Kuaman.
The island, famous for its natural habitats for sea turtles, has a zero-crime rate with many trading activities—anywhere from cottage industry to fishing and buy-and-sell of products locally-made or imported from close neighbor Sabah.
However, the small trading community in Turtle Island has hardly put up a rural bank, because of the difficulty of transporting their money which circulates in blend of Philippine Peso and Ringgit.
Afraid of getting “caught illegally importing currencies,” Turtle Island Mayor Omarkhan Aripin said residents used to the island municipality’s dual money circulation have avoided conventional banking transactions elsewhere.
A social worker in Turtle Island said a local people’s cooperative, would prefer transacting with a rural bank in Cotabato City, after experiencing incidents of extorting “arrests” in another city.
ARMM Agriculture Secretary Sangkula Tindick said the community distribution of fishery implements also formed part of the ARMM's Fish for Peace Program “which seeks to enhance fish habitat protection, as the Binhi Para Sa Kapayapaan or the Seeds of Peace.
The program also introduced KaPAYAOpaan as a component of livelihood-generation and fishery resource rehabilitation programs.
by Hader Glang
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