By Edwin Fernandez
COTABATO CITY: At least 750 indigenous peoples (IPs) in a village in North Cotabato on Friday received food and medical assistance from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The initiative forms part of the BARMM’s Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MIPA) outreach program for communities in North Cotabato that are now integral segments of the autonomous region.
A total of 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato now form the BARMM Special Geographic Area in the province after voting “yes” during the two-part plebiscite held in January and February 2019.
On Friday, both IP and Moro residents of Barangay Patot, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato received food packs and medical services courtesy of MIPA and the office of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim through Project Tulong Alay Sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan (TABANG).
The families also received rice, soap, masks, and alcohol from MIPA, hygiene kits, buckets, and dippers from Project TABANG, while front-liners from the BARMM Ministry of Health conducted free medical consultations.
The program targeted IP communities in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) of the BARMM territory in North Cotabato.
“This is a continuous activity of MIPA, other IP communities in the province that opted to join the BARMM are on the list to be served in the coming days,” said MIPA Program Coordinator Guiamalodin Palacasi.
Palacasi said many IPs were happy seeing the government services reaching them for the first time.
“It’s only now that I see a health worker checking on my health, we are glad you are here,” IP member Mamod Tadi, 59, of Barangay Patot, said in the vernacular.
Palacasi also said that the program also formed part of the Indigenous Peoples Month celebration in the region this October.
“The IPs were glad they received medical assistance. They value medication more than food aid because they can have it through their crops but just the same, they were thankful,” said community leader Sakudin Abdulraham.
“We hope to see more like this in the coming days,” he added.
(Philippine News Agency)