By ALI G. MACABALANG
Chief of Correspondents
Prospects for physical development and security stability in Mindanao, notably in impoverished Muslim-dominated areas, have become brighter nowadays in the aftermath of the government peace processes with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) pointed out the optimism as it reported its major interventions aimed at helping the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and other Moro communities cope up with the growth trend of developed regions in the country.
One of the major interventions is MinDA’s “Beauty and Bounty” program, through which the agency’s workforce led by Chairman Manny Piñol set foot in target communities and document unheralded potentials of the visited areas for conveyance to national and international attention.
In his latest documentary video this week, Sec. Piñol featured his personal glimpses on the road networks of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte that links the two provinces to their northern, eastern, western and southern neighboring areas.
Conveyance of commuters and products through such road networks was very light because non-resident passersby were scared of the presence of non-government armed elements along portions of the roads.
He mentioned the presence then of MILF’s Camp Abubakar on the border of Maguindanao’s Matanog, Barira and Buldon towns and adjacent areas in Lanao del Sur as well as the usual sights of the front’s cadres by-standing on the roadsides of the Cotabato City-Marawi City highway.
With the transformation of the MILF as a government partner after the 2013 and 2014 peace pacts bolstered by the creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous governance, transport traffic along the Lanao-Maguindanao highway has become frequent and heavy.
In his latest video, Sec. Piñol featured the positive impact of smooth road transport among the people Sultan Naga Dimaporo (formerly Karomatan) town in Lanao del Norte.
Earlier, he and his team made on on-site video documentary on the same highway cutting across the southern towns of Lanao del Sur, citing panoramic sites and fertile lands that have never been known to most Filipinos and investors.
“Come and see for yourselves the beauty and potentials of these once-avoided Muslim communities,” said Piñol, who was then bound for Taraka, Lanao del Sur to coordinate the grant of P218-million government loan to the town’s local government unit for MinDA-assisted development undertakings.
Last month, Sec. Piñol announced that officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines and MinDA people he led signed documents for the release soon loan to jump-start the water works and irrigation network projects and agro-industrial ventures.
In past huddles with journalists, Piñol, himself a former veteran scribe, hinted that wrong media reportage of events in Mindanao had adversely affected public perception of the Bangsamoro communities.
This time, he said, the MinDA and its allied media partners are committed to correct the lapses, noting that national unity could only be realized when the Bangsamoro community shall have gained what is due to it for age. (AGM/PMT)