11,000 MILF families to be part of cash-for-work program

By | February 26, 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 February) – Around 11,000 families of active members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in parts of Region 12 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will soon be covered by an ongoing expansion of the national government’s cash-for-work program.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 12 director, said the inclusion of the family members of the MILF rebels into the program was part of the interventions offered by the national government during the launching earlier this month of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro initiative.

She said the cash-for-work scheme was one of the main confidence-building measures that were identified by the agency in support of the ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and the government.

The official said the cash-for-work scheme is a short-term intervention or program that provides temporary work to residents of various poor communities.

Through the program, she said the beneficiaries would be assigned to work on some community projects like road repairs, rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and clearing of debris on identified critical waterways.

“The beneficiaries will receive cash payments based on the prevailing regional wages or available food stocks in exchange for their community works,” Taha said.

At the launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on February 11,  it was announced that under the Livelihood component, a needs assessment will be conducted in Bangsamoro communities to determine which livelihood program under the Department of  Agriculture and TESDA are “responsive to the needs of target Bangsamoro communities.”

While the needs assessment is going on, a cash for work program will be implemented in the area by the DSWD,  with community members employed for 10 days per month for three months.

Taha said they will augment the benefits with health insurance coverage, assistance in finding jobs and funding for the schooling of the family members of the beneficiaries.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro program will also cover the upgrading of community-based health infrastructure and services, opening of college scholarships and technical-vocational trainings and the provision of educational assistance to Madaris or Islamic schools as well as some private schools in the area.

Taha said the scheme will be implemented in selected communities in the ARMM and Region 12 for at least 18 months.

DSWD-12 will lead the program’s implementation in parts of the provinces of North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 as well as in Maguindanao and Marawi City in the ARMM.

Sajahatra Bangsamoro is a social development intervention for the MILF members and their families.

It was personally launched last Feb. 11 by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and other national and local officials in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The program’s launching was an offshoot of the signing by the government and the MILF in October last year of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was a preliminary deal that set the stage for the anticipated signing this year of a final peace agreement between the two parties.

Aside from the cash-for-work scheme, DSWD-12 is currently implementing the government’s flagship conditional cash transfer initiative, which is also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, in Region 12 and in Marawi City.

Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Kidapawan and Tacurong.

The 4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14 years.

The program provides beneficiaries cash grants of P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and P300 a month per child for educational expenses. A household with three qualified children could get P1,400 monthly. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)