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By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News
LANGUYAN ISLAND, Tawi-Tawi (SDN) – School children with smiles on their faces have warmed the hearts of visiting Bangsamoro Education Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal and members of his high-powered party from the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE).
Iqbal, chairperson of the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), visited schools in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi on May 10 to 15, 2023, to meet with school officials and learners to personally know the situation of education on the ground. Hear and listen to issues, concerns, and problems and look for solutions in consultations with the stakeholders, including, of course, local government officials.
In doing the six-day grueling visit – island-hopping on board speedboats – the group from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), brought with them at least Php70 million worth of IT equipment and supplies for teachers and learners as well as livelihood tools in the municipalities of Banguingui on Tongkil Island, Jolo, Patikul, Panamao, Talipao and Siasi all in Sulu, and on Languyan Island and in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
Languyan Municipality was the first of the MBHTE party’s first stop in Tawi-Tawi, where they were warmly welcomed like wherever they set foot in Sulu.
Mayor Abduhassan Ismail I. Sali, Al-Hajj, a friend of long time of Iqbal since the early days of the Moro revolution, made sure of a big welcome for the visiting BARMM officials, treating them with the island municipality’s offerings from the sea – including lobster, lapu-lapu, crabs, native delicacies, and many other gustatory delights.
Aside from the rousing welcome and hunger-satiating food of the gods, what added in making the visitors’ day were the school children on the piers, streets, and schools welcoming them armed with smiles on their faces.
Video clip of teacher expressing thanks to Minister Iqbal:
In his speech at the Languyan Stadium in the evening of their arrival, Iqbal gave praises to the school kids, waving small flags of the BARMM as they welcomed the MBHTE party in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Iqbal acknowledged the uplifting feelings they got from the school children. He said that while serving as government official there’s pleasure in it, knowing that you deliver your work and responsibilities well.
“Know that in doing the work we are doing, rest assured it comes surely with pleasure, tiring as it is. Serving is sometimes like an opium that gives you calm; there’s nothing more priceless than the smiles we see in the faces of the young school children who lined the streets, the piers, singing our praises,” Iqbal says.
In every stop of the visit Iqbal made sure to enter classrooms to meet and give inspiring message to the school kids. In a nutshell, his biggest message to the learners was to take advantage of what the present Bangsamoro government can offer in education and to not squander the fruits of the decades of struggle of the Bangsamoro. And go to school and study well.
He also told them to respect their parents and honor them with good deeds.
The BARMM, he often cited, “was not given for free by the national government, it was paid in blood, sweat, and tears by your fathers”.
Iqbal’s MBHTE has been adding classrooms through the construction of new school buildings, supplying armchairs, providing IT equipment and other educational supplies, and hiring new teaching and non-teaching personnel.
While it is common knowledge as he learned through reports he received from former officials of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that teaching appointments were up for sale, Iqbal assured that in his time at MBHTE, he will never ever allow the “appointments-for-sale” hiring of personnel.
“If you hear or learn about anyone (from MBHTE) selling appointments for teachers, or even non-teaching positions, report them to me,” he emphasized many times. He promised that if any report of selling appointments is found to be true after proper investigation, appropriate measures including charges will be done.
He said has been signing appointments to MBHTE without a centavo being asked from appointees. “It’s haram,” Iqbal pointed out.
“In sha Allah, through all the resources available to us from the Bangsamoro government, we shall remain true to our duties and responsibilities to you,” Iqbal stresses.
He said that accountability is one of the pillars of the MILF-led moral governance which the Bangsamoro Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim has been emphasizing.
“Please give a hand to Chief Minister j you that you are in his heart and thinking of you. The Chief Minister knows it was through your unwavering support that the Bangsamoro government is here and now.”
Iqbal and party humbled by Sulu and Tawi-Tawi welcomers
At the event in Languyan Island municipality, he also made special mention of Mayor Sali “for his big heart, for his sincere welcome and brotherly reception of our group from the Bangsamoro MBHTE”.
“His warm acceptance of our presence speaks of his fraternal love for his fellow Bangsamoro, of his friendly nature borne of the camaraderie in the struggle for self-determination, equality and justice that started with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and then with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” the education minister, who is the MILF’s chief negotiator for more than 30 years.
“Brother Mayor Abduhassan, know that we will not forget your kindness and sincerity. We feel so much at home in your municipality.”
For those who are not aware, the mayor was one of the prominent leaders of the Top 300 cadre of the MNLF who trained in guerrilla warfare on the island of a “neighboring friendly country”. He was also a member of Magic 8 that split from the MNLF after being disgruntled with its leadership.
“Our purpose in this island-hopping tour – certainly, not for pleasure — was to deliver and distribute more than 10,000 units of IT equipment and supplies, turn school buildings, broke grounds for two school buildings, with at least two other buildings under planning. The IT equipment like Personal Computers, laptops, printers, and projectors represent the tools for the digital era; we want the Bangsamoro children to be future proof as the workplace moving forward would be very competitive. If you fail to leverage technology and innovation, you’ll be left eating digital dust!
“Wherever we set our foot we were humbled by the reception that we received. Sometimes my mind is of the thought that, perhaps, we don’t deserve such adoration because we are only doing our job, a job that must be performed with all fidelity, with all sincerity, with all the dedication and resolve that we can muster. We in the MBHTE want to be an example of this work ethic, humility aside,” Iqbal said.
In a light vein in his speech, the education minister of the BARMM said members of his party would be going home a few more pounds heavier because of the delightful food serve in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. (✓)