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COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro government on November 15, 2023, distributed cash assistance to the “Widows of War” in the Midsayap Clusters of the Special Geographic Area (SGA) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Established in 2018 by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the Bangsamoro region is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the Special Geographic Area’s (SGA) 63 barangays or villages that voted “Yes” in a plebiscite in February 2019 to be under the BARMM jurisdiction.
The BARMM government implemented the distribution of the cash assistance through the Minister of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) headed by Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo.
Though in an area covered by the province of North Cotabato, the SGA is one of the components of the BARMM.
According to the Philippine Atlas BARMM has 4,404,288 people. It has 116 municipalities: Basilan, 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; undivided Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
Sinarimbo, BARMM spokesman, led the distribution, saying, “We distributed cash assistance to the ‘Widows of War’ in the Midsayap Clusters of the Special Geographic Area. A total of 200 widows received each a cash assistance of 50 thousand pesos.”
The assistance, he pointed out, is part of the MILG’s comprehensive BIRD Program or the Bangsamoro Integrated Rehabilitation and Development Program funded by the Special Development Fund (SDF) in the SGA.
Sinarimbo added the program aims to accelerate the development of the 63 barangays. The program has 3 major components such as Strengthening Governance, Livelihood and Socio-economic projects, and Community Infrastructure.
The socio-economic and livelihood component targets several categories of beneficiaries such as cooperatives, BLGUs (Bangsamoro local government units), or an alliance of the same for enterprises allowed under its corporate powers or private-public partnership, and or individuals. It has also specific support for the extremely vulnerable sector, including women and especially widows.
“These widows endured the supreme sacrifices of their husbands who were martyred in the cause of our struggle for the right to self-determination. Their stories of struggle and sacrifices are forever itched in the annals of our history. And their individual stories should be documented so that generations after us will know the true value of what they inherit from us. I was moved by the stories of these very strong women. They truly deserve to be beneficiaries of the Bangsamoro Government programs. (✓)