Ex-MILF fighters harvest, donate 100 sacks of calamansi for COVID-19 fight in Isulan

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 12 April) — The  family of  a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighter gave up a chance to earn at least a hundred thousand pesos in this time of COVID-19 pandemic by donating a hundred sacks of calamansi to boost the immune system of people in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province against the highly contagious novel coronavirus disease.

Patrick Ibrahim Mama, a decommissioned MILF combatant now engaged in farming in Barangay Lagandang, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, said his family could have earned 120,000 pesos from the volume of calamansi that they gave to their municipal and village governments for distribution to their townmates.

Calamansi as additional food aid to boost the immunity system. Photo courtesy of Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Mama’s FB page

“Some buyers called me to buy our calamansi harvest but I turned them down due to the lack of available commercial vitamin C in the local market. Our family decided to donate our produce to help boost the immune system, especially of the people who lost their income due to the COVID-19 health crisis,” the father of two children told MindaNews by phone.

Calamansi, a citrus fruit endemic to the Philippines, is a rich natural source of vitamin C.

Due to the high demand for vitamin C, prices of calamansi soared to P1,000 to P1,200 per sack from P400 to P500 before the coronavirus pandemic  became a household name for Filipinos, Mama said.

A sack of calamansi usually weighs from 28 to 30 kilograms, he said.

The 36-year-old Mama said the calamansi was harvested by MILF members and civilians affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in the area.

“They were paid 70 pesos per sack by our family,” he added.

Harvest time took only a day last week because of the  availability of  workers idled by the lockdown.

Mama said he went out to work with the harvesters.

As MILF members, Mama stressed that the donated calamansi is “also our contribution to the health crisis that we should altogether address as one no matter our status in life.”

Patrick Ibrahim Mama (left) delivers donation of calamansi to one of the villages in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. Photo courtesy of Mr. Mama’s FB page

Mama revealed that his elder sister, Bai Ali Mama Guerra, instructed him to harvest the calamansi in their 10.7 hectare farm.

Bai Ali is the wife of Engr. Eduard, Guerra, the Minister of Public Works and Highways of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The minister donated another 91 sacks of calamansi for distribution to various localities in the Bangsamoro region – Maguindanao, Cotabato City and North Cotabato villages that have joined the BARMM.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM spokesperson and also Minister of the Interior and Local Government, said the calamansi donation was repacked by volunteers at the operation center of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19 in Cotabato City.

“The calamansi is our substitute for commercial vitamin C to boost the immunity of our constituents,” he said.

Mama said the 100 sacks donated for Isulan town, which is outside BARMM, were his family’s share for being the caretaker of the Guerra couple’s calamansi farm.

“Bahala ka na anong gagawin mo sa parte nyo (It’s up to you what will you do to your share),” he quoted his older sister as telling him.

Before he was deactivated as an MILF fighter, Mama belonged to the First Brigade of the MILF 105th Base Command, which is headed by his brother Nasrullah Mama alias Kumander Stallion.

Nasrullah has also distributed relief goods to some poor families in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao affected by the COVID-19 crisis, Mama said.

According to the Soccsksaragen Region COVID-19 tracker as of 5 p.m. on April 11, Sultan Kudarat has three confirmed COVID-19 cases,  including one who died; 27 persons under investigation,  with seven currently admitted and 12 on home quarantine and four persons under monitoring presently undergoing home quarantine.  (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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