MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Local officials in Datu Unsay on Wednesday assured to help expedite the construction of a new school building in a barangay ravaged by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Datu Unsay town is located in the second district of Maguindanao, where the BIFF once ran a shadow government that enforced a ruthless Taliban-style justice system that also forcibly levied “revolutionary tax” on local folks.
The school building project in Barangay Meta northwest of Datu Unsay was launched Monday by Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the 6th Infantry Division, Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Mayor Monawara Ampatuan.
Also present in the event were Lt. Col. Noman Alcovindas and his subordinates in the 6th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, which will the construct the school building in the campus of the Datu Unsay Elementary School (DUCES) in Barangay Meta.
“The local government unit of Datu Unsay shall do its best to help hasten the completion of this school building project and protect the soldiers constructing the building,” Ampatuan said.
Members of the municipal council said they will also extend support to the project via the traditional “bayanihan” tradition.
The 6th CMO Battalion had earlier refurbished, with the help of the United States embassy, the dilapidated classrooms in the same campus, which the BIFF pounded with shoulder-fire explosives in separate attacks in 2012 and in 2014.
BIFF bandits had also burned down one of the buildings in the same school almost two years ago.
Alcovindas said he is grateful to Pangilinan, who is 6th ID’s commander since 2014, to Hataman and to the local government unit of Datu Unsay for supporting their operations meant to improve DUCES.
Hataman’s office will bankroll the construction of the new school building inside the DUCES campus with a P700,000 allocation from the ARMM’s coffer.
Hataman said the money will be drawn from the special purpose fund of his office.
Hataman and Pangilinan also led on Monday the dispersal of bags and school supplies to more than 300 pupils in Timbangan Elementary School in Shariff Aguak town, the old capital of Maguindanao.
Monday’s turn over by Alcovindas and his men of the school buildings they have just rehabilitated and the symbolic start of the construction of another, which the ARMM government is to fund, were witnessed by senior provincial education officials and Maguindanao’s chief budget officer, Lynette Estandarte.