Bangsamoro MBHTE Provides Php30-Mln for 1,859 Balik Barangay Program Beneficiaries in Patikul in Partnership with AFP, Sulu LGU

Featured image above shows former enemies, now partners for peace, 11th Infantry Division Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Maj. Gen. Ignatius N. Patrimonio and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Negotiator and Bangsamoro Education Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal sealing their partnership with a handshake. Looking on with a smile is MBHTE Director General for Technical Education Bai Ruby Andong. They were principal guests at the Balik Barangay Program presentation of tech-voc skills training finishers and distribution of tool kits for 1,859 residents of Patikul, Sulu. The event was held at Barangay Taglibi Covered Court, Patikul. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

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Plaques of Appreciation for Maj. Gen. Ignatius N. Patrimonio (1st photo), Colonel Taharudin Ampatuan (2nd photo), and Colonel Christopher Tampus (3rd photo) by Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal. (All photos by SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News

PATIKUL, Sulu (SDN) – The Bangsamoro government through the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) has provided a total of Php30 million for over 1,859 beneficiaries of Balik Barangay Program in this once-feared municipality because of the dreaded Abu Sayaff Group (ASG).

Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal.

With a number of sub-groups in Sulu alone, the ASG founded by Ustadhz Abdurajak Janjalani in Basilan province in the 1990s, made their living through terrorism and other forms of criminality, chiefly, kidnapping foreigners and Filipinos for ransom.

They are known for a series of bombings, killings, and beheading of their captives if they did not get their demands.

It was for that reason the island province of Sulu gained a worldwide notoriety as the “kidnapping capital” of the Philippines because many of their hostages were Europeans and Americans, aside from Filipinos themselves. And some had the added misfortune of being beheaded.

Maj. Gen. Ignatius N. Patrimonio.

The Abu Sayyaf (meaning, Father of the Sword) did not discriminate in their kidnapping activities, whether rich or poor, foreigners or Filipinos, men or women, and children. Even journalists they did not spare. Money is the only motivation.

That was then, this is now, and hopefully it will last. Patikul is now enjoying “relative peace”, the reason that internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the municipality who fled in 2017 have been asked to return to their respective barangays.

CAB covers teaching of Islamic values to counter militants’ distortion of the message of Islam

Central to the return of the IDPs to their communities is the government’s Balik Barangay Program spearheaded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) 11th Infantry Division (11ID) stationed in Jolo, the province’s capital.

Director General for Technical Education Bai Ruby A. Andong.

The relative peace, apparently, was the key in the visit of a high-powered delegation from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) led by Education Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal. He brought with him seven of MBHTE’s most senior officials – Director General (DG) for Basic Education Abdullah P. Salik, Jr., Director General for Higher Education Marjuni Maddi, Director General for Madaris Education Tahir G. Nalg, Director General for Technical Education Bai Ruby A. Andong, Assistant Secretary for Operations Atty. Sitti Mariam Balahim, CPA, Budget Officer Tarhata A. Mla, as well as Chief of Legal Division Atty. Mujahid Guro. Iqbal’s visiting group totaled 30 persons.

“I brought practically the whole MBHTE,” the education minister says, emphasizing the visit to the island provinces, aside from distributing more or less Php80 million worth of IT equipment and supplies, was also to listen to teachers’ issues, concerns and problems so they can be addressed.

He cautioned, however, that “we do not have a magic solution”, everything has to go through legal processes. Iqbal, on the other hand, assured that whatever they can do, they will do it before May 2025.

Distribution of training allowance.

Leaders of the Abu Sayyaf were known to be using as cover some verses of the Muslims’ Qur’an, distorting the meanings of “Ayahs” or verses to suit their evil deeds.

Iqbal said the MBHTE is bringing Madaris Education to the mainstream and teach the Moro youth Islam’s true and correct teachings.

Some groups, he noted, are “manipulating” Ayahs for their dark purpose.

“We are mainstreaming madrasah (madaris) education so that the true teachings of Islam can be shared (with the youth),” said Iqbal.

Some of the Balik Barangay trainees.

A big part to this effort is the hiring of more than 5,000 ISAL Asatids (teachers of Islamic values and Arabic language) in the whole of BARMM so the proper context of Islam can be taught. Sulu alone has over 600 ISAL teachers already hired.

“This is very important because they are manipulating it. So, the true teachings of Islam can be taught in the madaris (Islamic schools),” the BARMM education minister points out.

He said one important aspect of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) covers the teaching of Islam to counter groups distorting the Islamic religion’s teachings.

Maj. Gen. Ignatius N. Patrimonio, commander of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 11th ID, Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), here at Barangay Taglibi, on May 12, 2023, says that Patikul, is now “relatively peaceful”.


Patrimonio cited the training support and distribution of tool kits for the Patikul villagers, emphasizing the coming of the Bangsamoro group of Iqbal is “really, very timely, especially with the relative peace we are having now. We want to focus really on education, particularly the children. And not only the children’s (education) but also skills (training) for our surrenderees.”

He said the Balik Barangay Program started in 2020, adding today it has gained more partners like the Bangsamoro government through the MBHTE.

He spoke at the presentation of the completers of the Balik Barangay Program’s skills training in collaboration with the MBHTE Technical Education sector headed by Andong.

It is important to stabilize the lives of the Patikul residents who just returned to their communities through “a whole-of-nation approach”, the military officer says. “This is the key, Balik Barangay Program,” he adds

Patrimonio expressed elation that more government agencies are helping the program, aside from the Sulu provincial government and the BARMM government through Iqbal’s MBHTE.

“I believe that these efforts will inspire more agencies to come to Sulu and offer their help. The Balik Barangay Program has gone a long way since 2020 helping in peace and security situation. You can expect the 11th ID JTFS is your partner in programs for peace,” assures Patrimonio.

He was with Colonel Taharudin P. Ampatuan, his vice commander and peace and development officer, as well as Colonel Christopher Tampus, the 11th ID communications lead.

Andong said the Php30 million is inclusive of allowance (Php8 million) for the completers, for assessment, and for tool kits of the trainees coming from 11 barangays or villages of Patikul, such as:

  • Buhanginan, 208 trainees;
  • Maligay, 197;
  • Tupas, 136;
  • Bungkaung, 171;
  • Panglayahan, 266;
  • Pansul, 229;
  • Kabbon Takas, 203;
  • Bakung, 115;
  • Latih; 128;
  • Langhub, 140; and,
  • Pangdanun, 66.



Tool kits for the Balik Barangay trainees.

Awarding of training allowance and tool kits.

In coordination with Patikul’s Municipal End Local Arm Conflict (ELAC) the Technical Education and Skills Development (MBHTE-TESD) conducted skills training interventions for the Patikul returnees through the MBHTE’s Kasanayan para sa Kabuhayan ng Nangangailangan (KAPAKANAN) TVET Scholarship Program. (TVET is technical-vocational and education training.)

The military on July 28, 2017, ordered the residents of Patikul Barangays Buhanginan, Kabbon Takas, Maligay, Panglayahan and Pansul and those in highland areas said to be the lairs of the Abu Sayyaf to leave their homes. What followed was a focused military operation against the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless elements.

Iqbal says MILF implements Moral Governance region-wide

Providing a sustainable livelihood for the IDPs of Patikul through skills training and post-training assistance is the aim of Balik Barangay Program.

The MBHTE-TESD under Andong has been providing skills training, including in the municipalities of  Tongkil Island (Banguingi), Patikul, Siasi, all in Sulu, and in Languyan Island and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi province.

Andong said on Tongkil Island there were 50 trainees on Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) NC II, and Basic Solar. The trainees received Php5,040 each for a total of Php126,000. It was conducted under the Bangsamoro Scholarship Program for TVET (BSTVET).

The MBHTE director general for Technical Education said Siasi had 80 trainees also under BSTVET in Computer System Servicing NC II, Agriculture Crops Production NCII, Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II, and Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) NC II.

Andong said Languyan Island municipality had 72 trainees on Cookery NC II, Bread and Pastry Production NC II, and Dressmaking NC II.

For Bongao municipality, there were 202 trainees, said Andong, on Dressmaking NC II, Bread Making NC II, Pastry Making NC II, Plumbing NC II, Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II, Prepare Core Metals, Cake Making, Assembly of Solar Night Light and Post Lamp, and Plaster Concrete/Masonry Surface.

Iqbal said his group’s visit to the island provinces and some of the municipalities shows the Moral Governance the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is implementing and practicing.

Residents of the region, he added, are not just stakeholders, they have ownership of the BARMM. That’s one of the reasons the Bangsamoro government is bringing MILF governance closer to the people, for their fathers and brothers paid for it with blood, sweat, and tears.

Sulu Provincial Administrator Edwin Tan, representing Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, assured the provincial government’s readiness to do its share in bettering the lives of the population.

Patikul Vice Mayor Datu Tarcum Pulaus voiced robust thanks to the military, the police, the BARMM, as he singled out Patrimonio, Iqbal, Tampus, and Ampatuan for their collective response, calling it “life-changing”. (✓)

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