Updates Per Peace Table

milf

Bangsamoro normalization efforts continue through Brigada Eskwela

Barira, MAGUINDANAO – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) successfully launched another series of Brigada Eskwela in Nabalawag Elementary School here in this municipality earlier this week.

The event is part of confidence- building measures to sustain the implementation   of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The Government Peace Panel through its socio-economic units initiated the school-based support program last year, as a supplement to DepEd’s annual staging of the Brigada Eskwela. The government peace panel together with volunteers  from the ARMM agencies and the AFP's 6th Infantry Division joined the delivery of health and basic services to 18 elementary schools in the vicinity of the six previously indentured MILF camps. 

The schools are located in the interior of the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, and Lanao del Norte. TheBrigada Eskwela series served as venue for various activities such as medical outreach, tree planting, free circumcision for teenage boys, free haircut, and repair and repainting of the school buildings among others.  The beneficiaries included mothers and children in the community.

Government of the Philippines (GPH) Chief Negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that activities such as Brigada Eskwela should be continuously implemented despite the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the 16th Congress last February.

“Maraming sama ng loob ang idinulot noong mga nakaraang labanan, pero hindi natin maaayos ang sitwasyon, hindi natin makukuha ang hustisya kung idadaan pa rin natin sa marahas na paraan katulad ng g’yera. Ipagpapatuloy po natin ang peace process para sa mapayapa at maunlad na Mindanao (Past disagreements have caused a lot of frustrations and heartaches but we cannot solve the problem and we cannot attain justice if we continue on a destructive path such as war. Let us continue the peace process for a peaceful and progressive Mindanao),” she said.

Ferrer also stressed the important role of women in the peace process. “Kayo po ang magtuturo sa inyong mga anak na hindi na dapat bumalik sa giyera, na maitanim sa kanilang isipan na hindi nakukuha ang hustisya sa pamamaraan ng pakikidigma (You are the ones who can teach your children not to go back to war, to instill in their minds that justice cannot be attained through armed conflict).”

This year's first salvo  was attended by Brigadier General Glen Macasero, Head of the GPH-Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH); Director Carlos T. Sol, Jr., Head Secretariat of CCCH; Joint Normalization Committee Director Susana Marcaida, socio-economic consultant Maricris Valte, OPAPP Cotabato Office Director Wendell Orbeso; and DepEd-ARMM representative Abdul Raffi Abas together with several teachers, students, and parents.

Nabalawag Elementary School Principal Haima Dimasangcay, who also received in behalf of the school a certificate for hardware materials, thanked the agencies involved for implementing Brigada Eskwela in conflict-affected and poverty-ridden areas such as Barira.

“Nagpapasalamat kaming muli sa pamunuan ng OPAPP [Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process] ‎gayundin din sa mga kasundaluhan natin na andito ngayon kasama ang DepEd upang sa pangalawang pagkakataon ay maka-benepisyo kami rito ng mga programa ng ating gobyerno (We thank the leadership of OPAPP as well as the soldiers who are here today together with the DepEd for choosing us for a second time to be the beneficiary of this program by the government),” she said. 

The school had its first Brigada Eskwela last year benefitting hundreds of families. Dimasangcay also encouraged her constituents to be positive in all aspects of life and to help one another to achieve peace and development in their area and for the future of their children.

Basic services of Brigada Eskwela  

“Dinala ko na yung anim na anak ko rito para makapa-checkup; last year pumunta rin kami para makahingi na rin ng gamot kasi sayang lang din na andito na kesa bababa pa kami wala kaming pera pang checkup tsaka pambili ng gamot kahit pamasahe hahanapin pa namin (I brought by six children here to have their checkup; we also went last year to ask for medicines because we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity since we don’t have any money for consultation and for fare to go down the mountain),” said Rahma Bacolodan while carrying her eight-month old child.

“Maraming salamat at nagpunta sila dito. Sana dalasan pa nila yung mga ganitong ginagawa para matulungan nila yung mga katulad namin na hirap talaga sa buhay (I am really grateful that they came back. I hope they do this more often so that they can help those like me who really have a hard life),” she added.

Meanwhile, ex-combatant “Dimasangkal” with his brother and families also availed of the medical outreach being offered by the Brigada Eskwela. Also with him were his 90-year old father and 72-year old mother.

“Pina-checkup ko ‘yung nanay ko kasi inuubo, di na siya makakain mabuti. At saka rin yung tatay ko, tapos yung asawa ko buntis, pina-checkup ko rin. At saka mga anak ko (I had my mother checked up because she has cough and she can’t eat well. Also my father, and my pregnant wife. I even had my children checked up as well)”, he shared.

“Parati sanang may ganito kasi dito lang kami nakakakuha ng libreng gamot para sa kanila. Kung wala pang pera, wala rin kaming maipambili ng mga gamot sa mga matatanda na kailangang-kailangan nila ‘yan sa ngayon (I hope this always happens because it is only through this that we are able to obtain free medicines. If we don’t have money, we can’t buy the medicines of our elders that they truly need),” he ended.

“Bilang principal nila, masaya ako sa ngayon kasi dati halos di makilala itong school namin pero ngayon gumanda na. Mas marami na rin kaming number of enrollees sa ngayon at excited na ang mga bata pumasok sa school kasi di na sila naiinitan. May atip na mga classrooms nilaat may mga books na rin sila (As their principal, I really am happy because our school can’t even be called as such before but now it has become really beautiful. The number of enrollees went up and children are excited to go to school because they have proper classrooms and even books)," Dimasangcay said.