DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews/19 February) — The Maguindanao provincial government and the 6th Infantry Division (ID) have partnered for the “Light for Work” project that seeks the deployment of 25,000 workers to the Middle East.
Launched by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and 6th ID chief Maj. Gen Romeo Gapuz on Tuesday in Camp Siongco here, the project aims to curb illegal recruitment and human trafficking activities that are prevalent in the province.
Under the project, beneficiaries can avail of free placement and processing fees as well as board and lodging in Manila while waiting for their departure.
The provincial government has entered into an agreement with Global Asean Alliance, Inc., a recruitment agency, for the project.
Illegal recruiters are known to prey on hapless and undereducated individuals in the province who want to pluck their families out of poverty.
Gapuz said this is the first time the 6th ID is working with the local government to generate jobs for the people.
Camp Siongco will serve as a one-stop shop for people seeking jobs abroad, thus government agencies tasked to process their documents have been stationed there.
Gapuz said their aim is to protect the people from unscrupulous recruiters, and convince those living in the outskirts to grab the opportunity.
He said this is the military’s way of doing its share in poverty alleviation.
“We recognized that the problem here is not about armed group, it is the threats to human security, the ignorance, poverty and injustice and the wide gap between the rich and the poor” he added.
He said the military has adopted a “paradigm shift,” from doing the usual combat operations to taking part in peace and development initiatives.
Most of the town mayors, including members of the Ampatuan clan, attended the project launching and even shook hands with Mangudadatu.
Mangudadatu’s wife and other family members were among the 58 victims of the Ampatuan Massacre in November 2009. Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan and other members of the Ampatuan clan are the suspected masterminds of the incident.
Mangudadatu said the project aims to reach out to families in conflict-torn areas, including families of members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, to give them a chance to change their lives by getting jobs abroad.
He said the job vacancies, whether blue collar or white collar positions, will benefit not just Muslim applicants but also Lumads, Christians and other Maguindanao residents.
He added even unschooled applicants can be employed as long as they possess the required skills.
The project assures no minors will be recruited and no individuals with fake birth certificates will be accommodated. It will work with the Department of Labor, National Bureau of Investigation and other line agencies.
Meanwhile, a multi-million banana plantation mulled in a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front camp in Maguindanao may generate some 8,000 jobs.
Camp Abubakar Siddique now known as “Camp Iranon” is being eyed for a 3,000-hectare banana plantation to be funded by the World Bank through the Philippine Rural Development Program.
The former rebel camp straddles the towns of Buldon, Barira and Matanog towns in Maguindanao, and partly of Butig in Lanao del Sur.
Another 1,000 hectares in Guindulongan, Maguindanao have been used as a banana plantation through a memorandum of agreement with Unifrutti, an international firm implementing the PRDP-World Bank venture with a budget of US$25,000-28,000 per hectare.
“So if we have 4,000 hectares that would mean 8,000 employees because two persons will be employed per hectare if they wish to seek only for a local job,” Mangudadatu said.
“This is just one of many positive events happening in Mindanao, particularly in Maguindanao.” Let’s give peace a chance,” said Col. Manolito Orense, chief of the 603rd Infantry Brigade.
“You gave war stories more preference over positive events because the story sells, but why not look at the beauty of peace stories where people dreame of positive changes too”. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)