BASILAN - Since February 2015, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) brought free services closer to the public through People’s Day, a monthly activity. And on Monday, the regional government went to Basilan province's Al-Barka town, the Abu Sayyaf group’s former stronghold, to mount such event.
People’s Day brings different line agencies of the ARMM in convergence to offer free basic social services to the region’s constituents for free, and to reach the people at the grassroots level.“We want to ensure that residents in Al-Barka have access to all the vital services and assistance from the government,” said ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, who led the activity supported by Basilan Governor Jim Saliman, Al-Barka Mayor Darussalam Lajid, heads of regional line agencies, and local officials.
'An unfavorable reputation'
The town may have earned an unfavorable reputation, but the ARMM government is leading the way to make it become a more welcoming and better place. Gov. Hataman said the aim is to free Al-Barka from banditry and poverty by guaranteeing the delivery of government projects in the town.
For 40 years, the town served as the bastion of the terror group Abu Sayyaf, which Gov. Hataman said hampered the government in bringing in support to the town. “The people here deserve quality government service and we are bringing it in,” he said.
Free services rendered
Thousands of residents of Barangay Macalang and those from nearby areas benefited from various forms of assistance during the event. Among the services rendered were: medical and dental consultation and medication;supplemental feeding; distribution of textbooks and children's books; distribution of agricultural inputs and seedlings; domestic and international jobs fair; social pension payout; and distribution of devices to persons with disabilities, among others. The Basilan provincial government also distributed relief goods to the residents. Takasan Adirul, 65, was thankful that his family received assistance. He added that seeing many people for the first time made the distribution more meaningful. “Ngayon lang kami nakakita ng ganito karaming tao,” Adirul said. “Kahit maraming kaguluhan, alam naming maraming tutulong sa amin."
Various front line services during the activity were as follows: Office of the Regional Governor-ARMM;ARMM Regional Library;Department of Health-ARMM; Department of Labor and Employment-ARMM; Department of Social Welfare and Development-ARMM; ARMM Humanitarian and Emergency Action Response Team (HEART); Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-ARMM; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries-ARMM; Department of Environment and Natural Resources-ARMM; Regional Sports Coordinating Office-ARMM; Regional Darul Ifta-ARMM; and Department of Education-ARMM.
Millions of pesos worth of projects
Gov. Hataman said the people should lead in winning the peace in their place, with the assistance from the local government unit and the ARMM government as well. The governor also inked a memorandum of agreement and groundbreaking ceremony of the P10-million project under the ARMM-Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance and Synergy (HELPS) that would directly benefit Barangay Macalang. Barangay government center and other high-impact projects would be among the projects under the ARMM-HELPS in the barangay.
Since 2012, including the P132.5 million infrastructure budget for 2017, the Al-Barka town would receive P877 million worth of projects from the DPWH-ARMM. Almost 90% of this amount funded 45 kilometers of roads in the town.
ARMM People’s Day
Gov. Hataman added that People's Day will also be held in the region’s five provinces – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi – in the coming months. The primary target areas of People’s Day will be conflict-affected barangays in the five provinces.
The ARMM People’s Day is a monthly activity that serves as an opportunity for regional line agencies and offices to offer and render their front-line services to the people of ARMM. Agencies are using this platform as an exposure to actualize their objectives and goals in pursuit of an improved and effective service to people. (Bureau of Public Information)