Cultural sensitivity, human rights integrated in Marawi rehab activities

June 24, 2019

Task Force Bangon Marawi's (TFBM) member-agencies along with the security forces are now being equipped with training on the culture of peace to ensure that the government interventions for the rehabilitation and recovery war-torn city are culturally sensitive to the residents. Now on its third year, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in collaboration with the TFBM, 103rd Infantry Brigade and 2nd Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been implementing Duyog Ramadan for the residents affected by the armed conflict since 2017. This program involves introducing conflict sensitive and peace-promoting (CSPP) practices not only for programs being implemented in the city but also to the state workers, particularly the AFP personnel.  The CSPP program has already trained two batches of hijab troopers, which composed of military women that have been regarded with great contribution to the rebuilding peace efforts in Marawi. Members of the Hijab Troopers were one in saying that the CSPP training carried out by the OPAPP had helped them develop a better understanding of the peace process and learn how to help victims of war-torn communities recover from the conflict. Sgt. Sharon Larona who was among the first batch of Hijab Troopers assigned in Marawi after the siege said: “I have realized when we go to the community, we should understand and be sensitive to the culture of the area that we served.”  At the recognition ceremony during the 10-day Duyog Marawi, General Romeo Brawner, 103rd Brigade commander, who was a CSPP-trained himself, encouraged the AFP members to undergo such training. “This CSPP training is very important because it opens our minds from thinking like a military person to thinking as a peace advocate,” he said. “We were told that the core competency of the military is to fight wars. But there’s more to our job than just fighting wars, and this is peace-building, peacekeeping, and peace-promoting,” he emphasized. “Because of the importance of these training, I think, all military personnel should undergo CSPP training, not just those personnel who are assigned in conflict-affected areas,” he added. OPAPP Executive Director Gloria Jumamil-Mercado suggested ways in which Hijab Troopers can effectively play their roles in Women, Peace and Security. “The Hijab troopers help ensure gender and cultural sensitivity. We are encouraging that CSPP be part of the military’s curriculum,” she said. OPAPP's peacebuilding commitment Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., emphasized that these efforts are part of building a culture of peace to fast track the social healing and reconciliation in Marawi. “At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure that the Marawi siege will not happen again. To do that, we are exerting our collective efforts with the AFP, other government agencies and most importantly the people of Marawi, in rebuilding the social fabric of the Maranaw communities,” he said. “Our rehabilitation efforts are ensuring that the CSPP approaches are in place. As early as 2018, we have started mainstreaming this through our local government partners. We are institutionalizing the CSPP as we integrate it in the Barangay Development Plans not only in Marawi but the entire province of Lanao del Sur,” he emphasized. OPAPP is a member of the Task Force Bangon Marawi under the sub-cluster on Peace and Order.

Marawi coops receive shared service facilities

June 19, 2019

Eight cooperatives of this city can now start processing their own products after the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provided them with shared service facilities (SSF) in a simple turnover ceremony Monday, June 17.   With the SSFs, these cooperatives whose members are mostly internally displaced persons (IDPs) will embark on garments and dressmaking for Muslim women apparel, commercial bakery, food catering and halal foods, “baur “ (wooden box inlaid with mother pearls) making, palapa production and marketing and concrete hollow block manufacturing.    A total of 32 cooperatives submitted their proposals.   DTI Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman urged the IDPs to utilize the machinery for the improvement of the life.   “Sana yung mga machineries, equipment na binigay ng DTI, lahat ng tulong ng ating pamhalaan, huwag natin sayangin. Gamitin ito sa tama at paghusayan para po tayo lahat ay makabangon,” said Macatoman.   (“We hope that those machineries, equipment provided by DTI and other government agencies will be utilized well. Use it for the better and work hard so that you can recover.)   Jardin Samad of Maranao Collectibles Service Cooperative thanked the DTI and TFBM for supporting them. Samad also shared that with the guidance of the agency, they seek to reach the international market.    “Salamat sa DTI  sa tiwalang ipinagkaloob sa amin. Makakaasa po kayo na pagbubutihin namin hanggang kami ay makabangon at makatulong sa mga kapwa,” said Samad.   (Thanks to DTI for the trust they have given us. Rest assured that we would improve our work until we can recover and help our fellow residents.)   Sultan Ali Laguindab of NPC Tree Farmers Producers Cooperative also shared that their “baur” (box) making will contribute to the promotion of tourism in Lanao del Sur. He also expressed his thanks to the agency, which, he said has been helping the IDPs since the siege happened.   Laguindab also appealed to the recipients of the livelihood assistance to utilize it properly.   “I am appealing to them to use all equipment for the purpose intended by the government.  That will be a bridge for a normal life, and later when you gain capital, you have the opportunity to rebuild. Be rational. Use that for purpose,” Laguindab.   Aside from the SSF, DTI also continues distributing baking starter kits and carenderia kits to the IDPs.

AFP, MILF conduct peace mission in Lanao del Sur town

June 10, 2019

By Divina M. Suson Correspondent PAGAYAWAN, Lanao del Sur-- At the age of 14, Salman (not his real name) goes back to school on Monday (June 10) as Grade 4 with his 12-year old sister as a classmate in Padas Elementary School in Barangay Padas this town. Salman only finished Grade 3. He stopped going to school when he was eight years old after the cattle buy-and-sell business of his father, “Abdul”, got bankrupt and the people whom his father borrowed huge money got angry and wanted to be paid the whole Php 800,000. In November 2018, Abdul was tempted to join the group led by Owayda Benito Marohombsar, also known as Abu Dar, the reported leader of Dawlah Islamiyah (DI)-Maute-ISIS group Lanao, when he was promised by the later his debts will be paid in full. “Aside from paying my debts, I was also convinced of the Jihad,” Abdul said in broken Filipino language. His wife spoke for him because he could not speak in straight Filipino. Abu Dar reportedly replaced Isnilon Hapilon, the emir (leader) of DI in Southeast Asia, when the latter was killed during the late part of Marawi siege in October 2017 with a Maute leader Omar Maute. Hadji Nassif Aloyodan, barangay chairman of Padas, said Abdul joined Abu Dar’s group as helper, not as combatant, in October 2017, a week before Hapilon was killed in a combat operation inside Marawi’s battleground. “Hindi man yan marunong gumamit ng baril. Tagabitbit lang siya ng mga pagkain, tagakuha at tagahatid. Sinabi namin na huwag sumama sa kanila kasi delikado, hinahabol ng militar ang grupo nila Abu Dar, pero takot na siya sa mga nautangan niya kasi papatayin na siya,” Aloyodan said in an interview. Abu Dar’s recruit Brigadier General Romeo Brawner, Jr., commander of 103rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army in Marawi City, said Abu Dar escaped from the former main battle area during the early part of the siege when he got wounded. “Their plan was Abu Dar to heal his wound and recruit some more from outside as reinforcement was they were not able to enter because that time, Marawi was already locked down, the security was tight,” Brawner said in an earlier media interview. While outside Marawi, Abu Dar was recruiting members mostly those who are orphaned of Marawi siege or whose relatives were killed during the siege and young people and farmers who would easily get lured with money and who could easily believe in their ‘religious indoctrination’. They were training in the mountainous parts of Pagayawan, Tubaran and Sultan Domalondong, the towns of Lanao del Sur where Abu Dar’s family came from. Abu Dar’s group was transferring from one mountain to another within the three towns eluding the military. Lieutenant Colonel Noel Ignes, commander of the 55th Infantry Battalion which has jurisdiction over Pagayawan, said Abdul started training with the group in 2018 at the boundaries of Tubaran and Pagayawan. In cellphone videos recovered by the military when they overrun and killed Abu Dar last March at their training camp in Barangay Kalaludan, Pagayawan, Abdul was seen with 20 others, brandishing firearms and having formation. Barangay Kalaludan is at the boundary of Pagayawan and Tubaran towns, some three kilometers away from Padas. “He (Abdul) is one of the group members who trained with Abu Dar. He is instrumental in neutralizing the leader,” Ignes said in an interview. Realizing that his debts were not yet paid, Abdul surrendered during military operations in January. He then served as a guide of the operating government troops leading to the neutralization of Abu Dar. Saving his son In the middle part of the year, Abdul brought with him Salman, then 13 years old out-of-school youth, for fears that his debtors will get back on his son and kidnapped him. Abdul’s wife, “Saida”, said she was worried about his son’s life but he understands his husband just to protect their first born. She was living many sleepless nights especially when the father and son could not go home and visit for a month and she could learn that there is an ongoing military operation. There were also times when she would follow them at the training camp and stay for a week. “Kasi nami-miss ko ang anak ko at nag-alala ako sa kanyang kalagayan. Matagal ko siyang kinumbinsi na mag-surender kasi sinabi ng military na tutulungan sila kung mag-surender. Kaya nung nag-decide na sila nag ag-surender, laking tuwa ko,” Saida said in an interview. The government forces, aside from conducting combat operations, they will also send flyers to the families of the DI fighters that the government is open to receive and protect those who are willing to surrender and help them end violent extremism. In Padas, where around 200 families live five kilometers from the town center and almost 50 kilometers away from Marawi City, has five residents recruited by the extremists. Salman being the youngest. As of latest counting, Brawner said, there are 163 extremists in Lanao del Sur who surrendered to the military. Some directly went to the battalions, some were facilitated by the local government units. While some of these fighters have direct participation during the Marawi siege, most of them were recruited after the five-month war, supposedly to reorganize and continue building an ISIS caliphate in Lanao area that Hapilon and the Maute brothers failed to do. Peace mission The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) steps up its efforts into resolving the structural causes of violent extremism in Lanao del Sur. Together with the private and business sectors, the once adversaries in the battlefield at the height of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) conflict, AFP soldiers and the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) gathered on Saturday, June 8, in Padas for a peace mission. The beneficiaries are residents of the community affected by violent extremism. In June 9, the same interventions were brought to Sultan Domalondong town, the place where the military’s combat operation against the DI last January this year happened. In the uplands that Abu Dar was killed in a fierce battle with the Army troops, the AFP and its Reserve Forces from Manila and the volunteerism of students of Upsilon Sigma Phi brought assorted interventions that will change people’s lives according to the military. The MILF was invited as partner of the event because the area is where the 101st Base Command of the North Eastern Mindanao Front, under Sommy Ponda, also known as Commander Bangladesh, is located. “We came together with our MILF counterparts kasi south of the lake, sila talaga ang may malakas na presence and at the same time hindi rin natin maiwasan na may kalaban, minsan ang hinahanap nilang tao ay yung madali lang nilang mapitas,” said Army Captain Villarosa, Special Projects Officer of the intensified Civil-Military Operations for Development and Governance of the AFP. Villarosa said, the MILF helped the Army in identifying communities vulnerable in the recruitment of the DI. “At the political level, maganda na po ang usapan, and this is to sustain yung usapan na yun at the ground level,” Villarosa added. Seedlings of different vegetables like pechay, eggplants, tomatoes were distributed to farmers for their sustainable livelihood activities like gardening. “Instead of tanks dropping bombs, we bring a tractor to ‘dropped’ seeds,” Villarosa explained. The ‘tanks to tractor, arms to farms’ program is the transition on the AFP’s role from combat to peace and stability while the ‘dropping of seeds instead of bombs’ is on the AFP’s partnership with ‘peace crops on livelihood projects. Who donated the tractor and the seedlings? The volunteerism students of Upsilon Sigma Phi helped in the psychosocial aspects of the children in the conflict areas. The Upsilon Sigma Phi and SMILE for the Youth non-government organization have also distributed school supplies to pupils of Padas Elementary School, including Salman. “Siguradong makabalik na siya sa pag-aaral kasi may mga gamit na,” said Saida, adding that Salman have been very excited thinking that he can go back to school and continue his study. He wanted to become a soldier to defend his place from the terrorists according to Saida. Like his father, Salman could understand Filipino but cannot speak. From toy gun to playground set The program is patterned after the program the AFP has implemented in Basilan for the children of Abu Sayaff returnees. A playground set, with swing, seesaw, swing, slides and monkey bar, was set up. “For the longest time, ang alam lang nila (children) na laruan ay baril. Sa psychosocial, kung ipapa-drawing mo sila ng laruan, baril o baril-barilan ang kanilang ipipinta,” Villarosa recalled. “We are replicating it in Lanao del Sur to inculcate the culture of peace not a culture of violence,” he added. Villarosa said that violent extremism is an ideology that nobody can kill. “We can always kill the terrorists but not violent extremism. You can only make it irrelevant by breaking the chain of violence and by doing all these interventions and psychosocial activities with the former fighters,” Villarosa said. Brawner explained that the AFP is starting with the children by exposing them to a culture of peace so that when they grow up, they will forget the culture of violence that their parents and ancestors are exposed to. He said there are still active DI fighters in the area and the Army is asking the help of the MILF to facilitate their surrender “Ipinapakita natin sa community, including the MILF, that we are one with them, especially after the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the plebiscite that ratify it,” Brawner said.  

Fire gutted school buildings in Lanao del Sur

June 7, 2019

ILIGAN CITY ----- A school in Barangay Dilabayan, Bacolod Kalawi town in Lanao del Sur was burned down after a fire broke out, past 8:00 in the morning on Friday (June 7). Police investigation said the fire originated from a nearby house owned by a certain Juhary Manan whose family was able to escape. Captain Timothy Jim Romanillos, chief of Bacolod Kalawi Municipal Police Station, said the fire, that was reported at 8:20AM, gutted three school buildings of Dilabayan Primary School mostly made of light materials. "Kaya ang bilis kumalat ng apoy dahil luma na (ang mga building) at made mostly of light materials," Romanillos said in a phone interview. No casualties were reported. Initial report said faulty wiring caused the fire. The Bureau of Fire Protection in Bacolod Kalawi is still determining the estimated cost of damage according to Romanillos.

Police seizes 6.8 million pesos of shabu in Lanao Sur

June 7, 2019

ILIGAN CITY ----- Authorities arrested around 12:00 on Friday, June 7, two suspects and seized a kilo of suspected 'shabu' in a joint anti-drug buybust operation in Purok 7 Kapigis, Barangay Eastern, Wao, Lanao del Sur. The joint buybust operation was facilitated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA BAR), PDEA 12, 34th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, Wao Municipal Police Station and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) of Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office. Police Colonel Madzgani Mukaram, chief of Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office, identified the suspects as Darangji Ombo Angatong, alias Salaudin and Lendi Asiw Mangondacan. Mangondacan was wounded when he tried to escape and exchanged fire with the arresting officer according to Mukaram. "He was brought to Wao District Hospital for medical treatment," Mukaram said. The seized drugs has an estimated market value of 6.8 million pesos based on the estimate of the PDEA. Operatives have also seized the buybust money, assorted identification cards and other non drug evidence including one unit of KIA Picanto, color blue with plate number ZFN 679. The suspects and the evidences were brought to PDEA BARMM office in Cotabato for proper disposition.

Marawi, City of Inspiration not City of Tarpulin says Gordon

June 4, 2019

MARAWI CITY ----- Rather than calling Marawi City a Tarpulin Capital of the Philippines, Senator Richard Gordon said it is better to consider the predominant-Muslim city a City of Inspiration. In his visit here on Monday (June 3) as chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Gordon said it is inspiring to be in Marawi seeing tarpulin hung all over the place congratulating those who passed board examinations or who have graduated from college.  "It is most inspiring when I see 'Congratulations for passing the board exam', 'Congratulations for passing the bar exam', 'congratulations for passing the PMA (Philippine Military Academy)'," Gordon said in his message to almost a hundred of PRC volunteers at the New Capitol Complex Conference Hall in Marawi City. Upon entering Marawi City, tarpulins of several sizes, bearing photos, names and courses or kinds of board exams, were seen hung, some are put up in woods, congratulating a family member. Many of these congratulatory tarps bear the family names of both parents and grand parents. Some of these tarps are paid by relatives who has the same family name of the one being congratulated. "It is a pride and honor of the family that's why we have to put all the family names of the family. If you miss one, they will get hurt," Jamalodin Basman, a Maranao registered nurse and a barangay kagawad in Marawi City said.


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