‘This multipurpose hall quick impact project is a reflection of our struggle’: BTC Commissioner Ulama

General Santos City – In a turned-over ceremony of a BTC-JICA Quick Impact (QIP) project held on Thursday, May 19, at Barangay Lupoken, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province about 155 kilometers from the City of General Santos, Hon. Timuay Melanio Ulama of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said: “Your community is far but you are all near to our hearts.”

“This building symbolizes hope and our eagerness for peace and development and this multipurpose hall quick impact project is a reflection of our struggle,” he said before the community residents. 

Ulama said that the project shows that the leadership of Bangsamoro and the government are sincere in their signed agreement, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

He asked the community to utilize the project properly.

“Dear brothers and sisters, use these blessings that you have now. This is one of the outputs of our struggle and hard work of our Bangsamoro leaders in order to achieve peace and developments in our homeland,” he said.

About the BBL, he said that some are saying BBL is dead in Congress but we from BTC are responding; “Until we are here Bangsamoro, until we’re breathing, the BBL is continuously alive,” Ulama lamented.

He added that BBL in Congress was only parked just like a vehicle and rested in motion in the lower and upper house and is not dead. 

Ulama said that the non-passage of BBL is really a blessing because there is a new president and we see little light in Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Engineer Mohajirin Ali said that the quick impact project is a special project agreed between former JICA President Dr Akihiko Tanaka and MILF Chairman Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim to feel the dividend of peace.

“We wish that this project will bring us unity here, we must take care of it because the people of Japan who are our donors will monitor this project whether it is utilize rightly or wrongly,” said Ali. 

However, Ali said that it doesn’t mean that if a Moro community receives development, it will solve problem. “No it is not. The nature of our problem is not just development, it is political, it is rooted on historical injustices as described by presumptive president Duterte in his campaign statements before the May 2009 elections.

“What are those historical injustices?” Ali asked the residents. “We have governed ourselves even before the coming of the aggressors but it is very unfortunate that they assimilated us into the Philippine republic”, he said.

Ali believed that the peace process between the government and the MILF and the signing of peace agreements is what he sees ‘the solution to the Bangsamoro question’.

He also told the residents of Palimbang to be patient. “The MILF will always think of what is good for your community as evidenced by this project even though you’re not part of the core territory,” Ali said further citing the inclusivity of the would-be Bangsamoro government.

The JICA Project Coordinator Mr. Shu Nishimaru in his statement said that he is very happy to see the community of Palimbang. He also recalled the time when this project was launched in 2014. 

“The BTC and JICA team came to this place and asked community residents to choose one of the three types of infrastructure projects such as Multipurpose hall building, School building and Warehouse with Solar dryer. “And you decided and chose Multi-purpose hall. All of you here decided that this kind of project be built in your community as your needs,” Nishimaru said. 

“Today we completed the projects and handed-over to you. This is the end of construction but it is the beginning of utilizing this building as you can use this for Madrasah and or other occasions,” he added.

He stressed that the budget used for building the project was from the people of Japan which he believes they (Japanese people) are also happy as what he felt in the turned-over ceremony.

Meantime, Ms. Yuko Tanaka, JICA Senior Representative said that JICA’s assistance in Mindanao is focused on the three pillars namely: Economic Development, Poverty alleviation and Peace and Development in Mindanao.

“This project is very important for us, to deliver the tangible and visible peace dividend to the community,” Tanaka pointed out.

The municipal Mayor of Palimbang Abubakar Pendatun Maulana was represented by PNP-Palimbang Chief of Police who also affirmed his support. 

The head of the MILF Municipal Political Committee of Palimbang reminded the community residents to strengthen their faith in Allah. He explained that development will come if Muslims have strong faith and they do their obligations to Almighty faithfully. 

The BTC Socio-Economic Office team was led by Engr. Ali accompanied by his staff Prof. Alih Sakaluran Aiyub and Mr. Tu Alid Alfonso, Project Coordinators for Building Foundation of Governance, and Nomaire Mustapha, Project Coordinator on Public Service Delivery. Ms. Maan Bakisan, Ms. Cristina Santiago, Mr. Hernan Pineda of JICA Philippine Office, Mr. Hiroaki Nakatsubo of the International Development Journal and Engineer Mohammad Saud Alon of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) were also in attendance. 

The International Monitoring Team-Mindanao (IMT) Mission 11 was also part of the program.

Meanwhile, a day before the turn-over ceremony in Palimbang, similar activity was also held in Barangay Burias, Glan, Sarangani Province where JICA-Cotabato Project Officer Head and Chief Leader Mr. Naoyuki Ochia graced the occasion.

The quick impact project is a sub-component of Public Service Delivery under the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B). QIP was implemented in 20 sites in Mindanao with support from Japanese government.

JICA is widely known of providing assistance in Mindanao even before the signing of FAB and CAB and will continue to give assistance to the Bangsamoro with or without the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).