COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 22 Jan) – Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) commemorated the first year anniversary of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the enabling law that created BARMM, by sending relief goods to victims of the Taal volcano eruption in Batangas.
During sendoff ceremonies on Tuesday, about P2-million worth of food and non-food items for Moro and non-Moro victims of the volcanic eruption were sent.
“We extend help, as enshrined in the BOL, to Moro constituents in need outside BARMM and those affected from other faith and beliefs,” according to BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ahod Ebrahim.
“As we commemorate the first year anniversary of the ratification of BOL, we are also sending aid to our sisters and brothers in other parts of the country,” BARMM spokesperson Naguib Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo, also head of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Governments (MILG), stressed BARMM’s heart for those in need, regardless of faith and belief, culture and tradition.
“A year ago we committed to pursue the aspiration for self-determination of the Bangsamoro [people],” Sinarimbo said in his speech.
“Just to be very emphatic about it, that action to determine our future does not mean we will cut off our relations with the rest of the country. Today’s action, which is to send off a team that will provide assistance to our fellow Filipinos in Luzon, is an affirmation of our commitment to continue to be part of the republic despite our asserting of identity,” he said.
Three trucks will carry the relief goods, including 500 packs for Moro people who specifically requested for aid from BARMM.
“The packages for Moro people include prayer mats, malong, head gears, and others while the more than 1,000 packages for non-Muslim residents contain food packs, non-food items, medicine and water containers,” Sinarimbo said.
He said more aid will be sent to the affected residents near and around Taal Lake in the coming days.
Also on Tuesday, a task force was launched with the help from the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC).
A memorandum of agreement was signed by BARMM executives and BOPC to put an end to human trafficking of OFWs by organized syndicates that prey on Moro women and men as “easy victims.”
Both sides also agreed to closely monitor, using the internet technology, the lawless elements’ activities and help, through legal means, those who fall victim to human trafficking.
The BOPC has been helping distress overseas Filipino workers through its network and alliances that saved many Filipinos.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office in the BARMM has the admitted rising number of human trafficking victims from the region.
BARMM Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua welcomed the BOPC intervention to save Moro women and men from the claws of illegal recruiters.
“We welcome every help and assistance we can get to raise awareness about this horrific problem, to train our arms in identifying victims of trafficking, to rescue actual victims and make sure they live to tell the tale and testify against their abusers,” Macacua said.
Susan Ople, BOPC president, was equally elated that her office was welcomed in the BARMM.
She said they will work closely with Philippine embassies and with agencies under the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) so the victims can come home safely. “We will work with the task force to ensure that the filing of cases will take place so that the perpetrators will face justice,” Ople said.
“We will also help build the capacity of the Task Force and assist in the build-up of cases and promote with the use of technology in monitoring these cases,” she added. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews).