western mindanao

UN-HABITAT sustainable livelihood support launched 

October 5, 2019

MARAWI CITY, Oct.3 (PIA ICCC) -- The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has launched here its P44.2 million livelihood project, complementing its shelter rehabilitation project for the internally displaced persons (IDPs). The six-month project aims to provide sustainable livelihood assistance to 4,000 IDP-households and capacitate them with skills in agri-business, enterprise, establishing markets, among others. The beneficiaries prioritized for this project are those IDPs living within 3-6 meters easement of the Agus river and Lanao lake which are organized into cooperatives; the artisans and handloom weavers within Marawi City and the fisherfolks and farmers of the agricultural barangays of Guimba, Dulay, Caloocan West in Marawi City. Faridah Gundul of Madayanians Agriculture Cooperative and a resident of Raya Madaya II expressed her appreciation for the assistance provided for them. “Ako ay masaya... Hindi maexpress ang pakiramdam dahil andyan sila parati para iguide kami at tiinuturan kami,” said Gundul. (I am happy… I cannot express the feeling that they are always here to guide and teach us.) Part of the interventions under this project include Micro-Enterprise Development; Community-Based Social Enterprise; Skills Development and Capacity Building; Local Value Chain Development; Handloom and Crafts Market Support and Linkages; Crop-Fish-Livestock Integration Farming System; Production and Marketing Support on High Value Crops and Vegetable; Islamic Financing Scheme (Credit and Savings); and Employment generation. The Cooperative Development Authority also pledged its support for the organized cooperatives. Among of the implementing partners of this project include the local government of Marawi City, Task Force Bangon Marawi, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Agency, and Social Housing and Finance Corporation. (LEAntonio/PIA10)

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Notorious Kidnapper Arrested in Zamboanga Sibugay

September 27, 2019

CAMP SANG-AN, Labangan, ZDS – Third highest ranking member of the Abu Sayyaf Kidnapper Group was arrested by the joint Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion and PNP operation in Brgy Canacan, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay province 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 25, 2019.  “Nasirin Balajadji, was apprehended by the virtue of warrant of arrest for the crime of kidnapping for ransom with no bail recommended”, said Lt. Col. Don Templonuevo, 44th Battalion commander.  “Balajadji was involved in the kidnapping of Baker Atyani, a Jordanian Journalist sometime in 2012," added Templonuevo.  According to Police Col. Jerry Protacio, PNP Provincial Director, “He was also involved in the abduction of Roland Del Torchio, an Italian retired Catholic priest and the kidnapping of Rexon Romoc, an eight-year old boy who was held captive by the group for seven months in 2016”.  The arrested kidnapper is now in the custody of PNP for proper disposition and filing of the case.  Meanwhile, Col. Leonel Nicolas., 102nd Infantry Brigade Commander, who has operational jurisdiction of Zamboanga Sibugay said that, “The arrest was attributed to the report of a peace-loving and concerned civilian in our area of responsibility”.  For his part, Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, commended the efforts of the troops as well as the concerned civilian. “The arrest of the top kidnapper is a significant accomplishment for the peace-loving constituents of our area of responsibility,” said Ancan.  “With our relentless collaboration with PNP, rest assured that we will continuously neutralize, defeat or destroy threat groups to sustain the gains of peace in Western Mindanao”, Ancan concluded.  

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PRESIDENT DUTERTE CONFERS ORDER OF LAPU-LAPU ON SOLDIERS KILLED, INJURED IN SULU BOMBING

July 4, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday honored Army soldiers killed and wounded during an attack at a military camp in Indanan, Sulu on June 28.   President Duterte conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kampilan on soldiers injured after two alleged suicide bombers detonated a bomb at an Army tactical command post in Indanan town.   The recipients of the Order of Lapu-Lapu were SSgt. Ferdinand Clemente, SSgt. Marlon Domingo, Sgt. William Andreade, Sgt. Ryan Ferrer, Sgt. Richard Tudla, Sgt. Mark Joseph Mamingcol, Sgt. Jykyl Bautista, Cpl. Serto Bagni, Cpl. Rommel Soliman, Pfc. John Angelo Carpio, Pfc. Ralph Sabroso, and Pfc. Dariel Bolivar.   The President also posthumously awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kalasag on two Army soldiers, Pfc. Dominique Inte and Pfc. Recarte Alban Jr., who perished during the attack. Their next of kin received the award.   The Order of Lapu-Lapu is given to persons in government or private sector who have rendered extraordinary service or have made exceptional contributions to the success of the President’s campaign or advocacy.    The Kampilan Medal is conferred on persons who were seriously wounded or suffered great loss of property as a direct result of their participation in such action.   The Kalasag Medal, on the other hand, is given to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who lost their lives as a direct result of their participation in an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.   On Sunday evening, the President conferred the same award on Cpl. Richard Macabadbad who was one of the Indanan bombing casualties. His remains lie at the Libingan ng mga Bayani Mortuary in Fort Bonifacio.   Dependents of soldiers killed in action received P250,000 financial assistance from the government while other benefits are extended through the state’s Comprehensive Social Benefit Program. Those who were injured received P100,000.   The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), one of the participating agencies under the program, provides employment to widows and other dependents.   The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in coordination with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), provides skills training while the Department of Health (DOH) gives medical assistance.   Once beneficiaries completed their skills training, they are qualified to receive the second tranche of financial assistance from the government amounting to P250,000 for every beneficiary.   The National Housing Authority (NHA) also provides shelter assistance while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) secure the grant of scholarships to the dependents of soldiers killed in combat.   Violence is not new in the restive Sulu archipelago. The bomb that went off June 28 targeted the tactical command post of the First Army Brigade Combat Team in Barangay Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu.    Aside from the casualties in the military, the blast killed three civilians and also injured many others. The Islamic State (IS) was reported to have claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the Sulu military installation. 

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Two Armed Communist NPA Terrorist Surrender in Iligan City

June 26, 2019

“Our initial custodial debriefing found out that due to our relentless combat operation, most of them are starving and only eat one meal a day”, said Lt. Col. Jasper Edward Obar, 51st Infantry Battalion Commander. “Lisod ang kinabuhi sa bukid. Mas lisod kaysa adtong pa sa panahon kaniadtong dili pa kami myembro sa NPA. Walay direksyon among pakigbisug”, ingon ni alias Braga. (“Our life in mountainous part is hard. Much harder when we were not yet members of the NPA group. There is no direction in what we are fighting for,” said alias Braga). The two CNT yielded two M1 Garrand rifles and ammunitions. As of this year, a total of 29 Communist NPA Terrorists surrendered to 51IB. “The influx of CNT surrenders in Iligan City is a testament of their desire to unite and live peacefully with their families. We expect that more CNTs will return to the folds of the law in the coming days as our troops on the ground received a lot of surrender feelers,” says Brig. Gen. Ezra James Enriquez, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander. “Likewise, we urge the NPA leadership in our area of operation to engage us thru localized peace talks to address their issues and problems peacefully”, Enriquez added. Meanwhile, Major General Roberto Ancan, the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, commended the efforts of the troops that led to the surrender of the two CNTs.   “We encourage other CNT members to surrender with their firearms, return to the folds of the law and benefit the Enhanced Local Integration Program of the government”, said Ancan. “Based on Executive Order Nr 70, creating a Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), the Joint Task Force ZAMPELAN is doing its best to contribute to the mission of the created task force,” added Ancan. “Convergence and synchronization of plans, programs and projects among the government agencies is vital and key to end the long decades of insurgency that only brought misery to our country”, Ancan concluded.

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KISSAH AND DAWAT: Pagkita’ bulan: Moon-sighting in the Bangsamoro

May 7, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY  – May 6 was declared the commencement of fasting (Arabic ‘sawm’, plural ‘siyam’) in the month of Ramadhan of the Hijri or Islamic calendar. The declaration in this part of the Muslim World was done by the Regional Darul-Ifta’ in the BARMM and outside by respective Darul-Ifta’ bodies such as the Darul-Ifta’ of Zamboanga Peninsula and Palawan and the Mufti of Davao City after the mandatory physical sighting exercise. The declaration over the weekend was immediately circulated on social media and received by the faithful with such greetings as ‘Ahlan Ramadhan’ (Welcome Ramadhan), ‘Ramadhan Mubarak’ (Blessed Ramadhan) and ‘Ramadhan Saīd’ (Happy Ramadhan). For around 28 days, the days will be marked by fasting and the nights by tarawīh prayers. The fast commences before the early morning Fajr prayer until sunset with observants refraining from food, drinks and smoking; married couples from intercourse; shying away from gossips and idle talks; and devoting more time for obligatory and optional salat (prayers), du’a (supplication), dhikr (remembrance), qira’atul Qur’an (Qur’an reading), tilawatil Qur’an (Qur’an recitation), and the like. Moro children are enthusiastic as they are attracted to the variety of food on the table. Whilst they participate in fasting, they are not yet obligated yet. Instead, their participation is to familiarize and practice them so that they are able to do so properly when they reach the obligatory age. Children, pregnant women and infirmed are normally exempted from this obligation. Further, during the month of Ramadhan, Moro families are generally generous with food and monies. The food prepared for daily iftar (breaking of the fast) is shared with kith and kin. Where unable to prepare food, money is extended. Islam reminds the faithful to remember, to invite and be generous with orphans and those who have less in life. After all, among the many intents of fasting is for those who have more in life to experience the life of those who have less; consequently, Muslims come out of Ramadhan emphatic, humble, grateful, frugal and generous. But the fundamental teaching of fasting is taqwa or God-consciousness, to be attracted to His worship and to fear the consequences of religious inaction. It is this taqwa that is suppose to bind all Moros under the Islamic faith. Furthermore, since embracing Islam, the 13 Moro ethnolinguistic groups had observed fasting in the month of Ramadhan as integral practice of their Moro identity and culture. While observing the core teachings of Islam pertaining to fasting, every ethnic group have added their own ethnic variations, such as the preferred local foods. Among the Moros of the Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula, seafoods are a hit as iftar food together with ‘bang-bang’ or native delicacies of all kinds. For sahūr, the last meal before the early morning prayer, ‘sabaw maimû’ (hot and sweet coconut milk soup) is popular. Although, the Sunnah (practice) of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is to eat dates to break the fast. Dates is now easily accessible especially in urban areas where it is often distributed in mosques and by religious organizations or on sale in local barter trade stores. Ramadhan is not just fasting. It is supposed to reinforce Muslim unity and empathy. Thus, there is a need to reiterate its importance among the 13 ethnolinguistic groups and burgeoning religious diversity. There is also the imperative to revisit this cultural practice in order to be a source of unity, and in order to avoid divergent discourses and division. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan does not follow the Gregorian calendar, it follows the Islamic hijri calendar. Since the Bangsamoro does not have its hijri calendar, every Moro group either adopts its own or import one from overseas as their reference. The hijri calendar like the traditional Chinese Yinlee calendar is lunar-based, that is following the different phases of the moon. Thus, hilāl or moon-sighting is necessary to move from one month to another, year-round, not just before the start or end of the month of Ramadhan. However, because of logistical and organizational constraints to carry out these tasks and with loss of their patron, the practices are now limited to the observance of fasting only. The Gregorian calendar that is dominant in the Philippines is solar-based, that is based on the seasons and the relative position of the sun. This is why, there is a (mis)conception that the month of Ramadhan is moving across the Gregorian calendar. One value of the lunar-counting is that the observance of the fast is not fixed on a particular season. Ramadhan is from the Arabic root word ‘ra-ma-dha’ meaning scorching heat or dryness. Imagine observing fast on a fixed hot season? Because the Hijri counting is lunar-based, the fasting month of Ramadhan can move across the seasons. In the time of the old monarchy, the Sultan was the ecclesiastical authority and certain procedures and practices were observed uniformly across the realm. When the Sultan’s power was taken over by the Americans, ecclesiastical practices lost their patron and saw their decline. Thus, the need to re-institutionalize two traditional practices associated with fasting and the month of Ramadhan – the practice of taqwīm or Islamic hijri calendar and hilāl or moon-sighting. The establishment of the BARMM can re-institutionalize these cultural practices by adopting uniform standards and hiring professionals to carry them out properly. This is the call of the ulama headed by the Aleem Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, former executive director of the ARMM Regional Darul-Ifta’ (RDI) and current BTA member. Re-institutionalization means adoption of a legal framework for the uniform observance of hilāl, the development of its own BARMM hijri or lunar taqwīm or calendar, training professionals with the necessary ulūmiyyah (technical) and diniyyah (religious) qualifications, and the establishment of a taqwīm and hilāl bureau under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to sustain these practices. It should similarly be clarified that while the proposed bureau undertakes these practices, the official pronouncement should be coordinated with and come either from the offices of the BARMM Darul-Ifta’, the region’s jurisconsult authority or the Wali, the BARMM’s titular head. Worth mentioning and adopting by this proposed bureau are some of the practices demonstrated by ARMM RDI – such as the annual hilāl conference, mobilizing provincial teams to undertake hilāl, upgrading and additional procurement of moon-sighting equipment and software, developing technical qualifications of young ulama in partnership with the national DOST PAGASA office, and importantly, consultation and consensus building among varied darul-ifta’ bodies, organizational muftun and influential ulama. While this proposition is not in the priority legislation for BTA, its early adoption can signal the re-emergence and recognition of positive traditional practices that make Bangsamoro what it is, thereby promoting cultural identity, unity and heritage among the Moro inhabitants. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Noor Saada is a Tausug of mixed ancestry – born in Jolo, Sulu, grew up in Tawi-tawi, studied in Zamboanga and worked in Davao, Makati and Cotabato. He is a development worker and peace advocate, former Assistant Regional Secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, currently working as an independent consultant and is a member of an insider-mediation group that aims to promote intra-Moro dialogue).

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KISSAH AND DAWAT: Mustering modern management practices for Bangsamoro transition

May 5, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY  – We have the desire to see the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) succeed and even if we are not appointed member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) or in the interim cabinet, we do have business to be involved as citizens. As citizens, our involvement can be as varied as our interest and competence. Those who can organize themselves can form alliance to advance a cause; those who can organize rallies can march for advocacy; those who can speak eloquently can speak before any of the local board meetings or consultation; those who are members of civil society can serve as service provider or third-party data validator or program monitor; they can call on any local office to improve their services and those who can write can make their views count. Towards Organizational Development The last one is the motivation behind this column. As graduate of public administration, organizational development (OD) is always of interest to us, whether it is organizational structuring or reorganization. The (1) transition from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to BARMM is just one of three natures of transition BARMM will have to go through. The other two natures are (2) transition from Region 12 to BARMM, as Cotabato City and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato are under the administrative jurisdiction of Region 12; and (3) transition from Central Office to BARMM, as there are program funds, capital outlay and personnel plantilla creation are anchored with the Central Office of line agencies. We share in the hope that the transition will be smooth and fast and at the end of the day, will benefit Bangsamoro as a whole. Having understood these three natures, the next step is an objective review of what works and did not work in the ARMM. This can be the starting point and leapfrog the transition based on the OD provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). One relevant document is the research on “Drawing Lessons for the Creation of Regional Governments under a Federal Setup: Case Study on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” undertaken by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) published in January 2018[1]. The only supra-national public expenditure and institutional review in this country was conducted by the World Bank for the ARMM Department of Education (DepEd) in 2015[2]. In this way, the syndrome that contributed to the weakness of the regional education system can be addressed properly. The BARMM can derive recommendations for consideration in what is now the emergent Bangsamoro political entity. It is also worthwhile to review both the organizational structure of the regular administrative region and the central office of the line agency, for the BARMM is higher than the regular administrative region because of its high degree of autonomy and while lower than the central office of any line agency, it enjoys some devolved functions. However, given that the BARMM is transitioning to a parliamentary-ministerial system, such of which is non-existent in our country, it behooves us to consider overseas political entities enjoying the same. While we have always argued for cultural sensitivity and local context, we also recognize that across similar entities and in general, bureaucracy at any level have similarities or commonalities.. This is where the values of researches, such as those from great universities, can provide us good practice and lessons to learn. Peter Drucker’s Effective Management Among the most popular management gurus is Peter Drucker, who is hailed as “father of modern management”. For him, leadership is not simply about charisma and extroversion. BARMM appointees can learn from eight (8) management practices Drucker considered characteristics of effective executive: 1. What needs to be done is to distinguish between organizational or management ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, a need is necessary and a want is desired. Leaders have to be careful with inherent bias for preferred perspective. 2. What is right for the organization is to differentiate between ‘subjective right’ driven by personal sensibility and ‘objective right’ supported by consensus and studies. This is why the need for data-driven analysis is all the more important process in the transition. 3. Develops action plans, that is, actionable vs aspirational plan given the three-year time frame of the transition. 4. Takes responsibility for decisions by avoiding the blame game and going around the bush. 5. Takes responsibility for communicating. Frank conversation with stakeholders is imperative to keep everyone abreast with the actual and difficult process of both transitioning and organizational restructuring. While at the same time, keeping away from the push of propaganda, vetting every information coming out of the BARMM so as not to be entangled in the fake news dilemma. 6. Focuses on opportunities rather than problems. Problem-solving approach is based on a competitive mindset with improvement on weaknesses and focus on limitation; while positive approach is based on a collaborative mindset with improvement based on strength, vision and focus on possibilities. Again, given the three-year transition period, the interim BARMM government will have to make a strategic decision.  7. Courtesies and meetings eat up a lot of managers and leaders time. BARMM will have to make a conscious decision on why the need for, how to run and determine for itself what is productive meeting. This is selective versus routine meetings, talking around the bush versus forward-moving meetings. 8. And finally, the leadership and supporters should start thinking and saying "we" rather than "I", “us” rather than “we”. After the plebiscite, we are in this together. This is us, one Bangsamoro; no more distinction between member or non-member, yes or no voters. BARMM advocates and supporters should stop parlaying that this is just for those who are officers and members of a particular organization or ethnicity. While we recognize the contribution and sacrifice of those who belong to a particular organization, BARMM is not exclusive to one group, it belongs to all Bangsamoro. James “Jim” Collins’ Catalytic Mechanisms Given the limited time frame for the transition, the big challenge for the BARMM, collectively, is how to turn its big and audacious goals into desired and felt results among its constituencies. This is not unique to BARMM, this common dilemma among public and private entities alike. Jim Collins, American author and lecturer on business management and sustainability, studied one extremely powerful tool and found it to be the critical link between organizational objectives and performance. He called it ‘catalytic mechanisms’. He identified five parts: 1. The strategies adopted, to be considered catalytic mechanisms, should produce desired results in unpredictable ways. Bureaucracy is not really known for breeding extraordinary results. It is more an epitome of control, predictability and conformity. In this environment, extraordinary results will never bloom. What research has shown is that when personnel and groups are given elbow room for initiative and creativity, to step outside a constricted path, some delightful, interesting and amazing results happen. 2. The strategies should distribute power for overall system benefits, and this often results to great discomfort for those in the status quo. Should it remain centralized? Or should it decentralized to bring power and decision-making to the level where they are needed? Catalytic mechanisms force the right things to happen even though those in power have vested interest in the right things not happening or in inertia – letting pointless and inefficient practices to stay in place because they benefit the status quo. 3. Strategies should have teeth to take the power out of traditional holders and their whims and redistribute them to where change really matters for the people these agencies are serving. It is not fair to blame the frontline staff while the managers are scratch-free. If the frontline staff are to be blamed, the managers should have more of it for they were the ones steering.  How many orders and memos were issued at the start of every administration threatening legal sanctions and ended up eating up its own words? Simply put, do not bark if you can’t bite; many have been through with the barking, yet exasperated over the absence of bites. 4. Catalytic mechanisms are strategies that can ejects viruses, e.g. those who do not share in the organizational values and ethics. Management control has been the default of many previous administrations while producing no sustainable and positive results. What is needed is not just personnel to work hard, but the right ones are hired, put in strategic positions throughout the bureaucracy exhibiting the desired behaviors, sharing the organizational values and contributing to organizational results; and those without these values are either never hired or self-eject themselves from the organization, as explained by Jim Collins. 5. Produces on-going effects. According to Collins, it is not enough leaders deliver rousing speech, electrifying them in a meeting or creating euphoria out of new buzzwords. These events will not create sustainable effects, the momentum stalls and the excitement of change will pass. Thus, there is a need for buy-in within the organization, developing second liners, and evolving a critical mass to push through the change and reform beyond the transition period. Having described what strategies can become catalytic mechanisms, Collins has some practical forward steps: (1) don’t just add, remove; (2) create, don’t copy; (3) use funds, but not just funds; (4) allow your strategies to evolve; (5) build an integrated set. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Quotient It goes without saying, leadership is crucial. Psychologist, author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, found out what makes effective leaders alike, they all have high degree of ‘emotional intelligence’ (EQ). Intelligence quotient and technical skills matter as threshold capacities or entry-level requirements for executive positions, but EQ is the essential condition for effective leaders. The BARMM’s leadership expression on moral governance is a question of developing emotional intelligence. The urgency in public service requires empathy which technical people, who are committed to following pre-determined set of rules and regulations, may not have. Accordingly, the connection between public service and the general public can only be bonded by leaders with empathy in that part of the brain called the limbic system where feelings, impulses and drives are governed. Leaders with low EQ but high on analytical and technical abilities are governed through the neocortex. To develop the managers and staff’s EQ requires in-service training focusing on the limbic system through motivation, extended practice and feedback, according to Goleman. Building one emotional intelligence requires sincerity and effort, thus, requires ample time to internalize. Towards developing emotional intelligence as a foundation of moral governance requires developing self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. As pointed out by Goleman, we are born with it, and we can strengthen these skills through persistence, practice and honest feedback. Finally, Peter Drucker’s Effective Management, James “Jim” Collins’ Catalytic Mechanisms and Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Quotient are just few insights on modern management that the BARMM can muster and benefit from. Certainly, not to adopt them whole, but sensitize them to the BARMM context.  By enumerating these management tools, it is not to say the leaders are unaware, instead it is the firm belief of this columnist that the Bangsamoro enterprise with its collective aspirations can only be achieved through consultation and consensus-building where everyone in the marketplace of ideas, regardless of status, every Moro is free and safe to express his or her opinion and in putting forward ways to achieve the elusive Bangsamoro dream of peace, justice and progress. BARMM can benefit so much from beautiful and best ideas.

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