BARANGAY BATULAWAN, Special Geographic Area — The Bangsamoro Government, through the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), has been steadfast in offering financial support to the widows of war in the region since the inception of the Bangsamoro Integrated Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD) Program.
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, a total of 350 widows of war from the Pikit Cluster of the Special Geographic Area were each provided with P50,000 cash assistance.
The primary objective of this assistance is to enhance the quality of life of these brave women who single-handedly raised their families after losing their spouses in the Bangsamoro’s pursuit for freedom and self-determination.
Minister Sinarimbo shed light on the difficulties faced by these widows, emphasizing their advanced age, which makes earning a living challenging.
“Mahirap maging widow. Maski na nga yung mga couples na buhay pareho, nahihirapan sa buhay dahil sa kalagayan natin — third world country, backward yung development, you are the forefront of conflict so talagang mahirap ang buhay,” Sinarimbo said.
[It is difficult being a widow. Even for couples who are both alive also struggle to make ends meet because of our situation — living in a third wolrd country with backward development, being at the forefront of conflict, life is truly difficult.]
“Kaya ang pagbibigay ng cash assistance ang agad naisip [ng Bangsamoro Government] para sila ang initially magdecide kung ano yung pinakaimportante — [halimbawa] pag-aaral ng anak nila, hospitalization, at iba pa,” he added.
[That’s why the Bangsamoro Government immediately thought of giving them cash assistance so they can decide whether to spend it on their children’s education, hospitalization, or other immediate needs they may have.]
Wilma Madato, representative of widows in Pikit Cluster, underscored the program’s significance for the beneficiaries. She acknowledged that while the financial assistance cannot erase the sorrow of losing their mujahideen husbands, the program is a big help to them.
“Nararamdaman kasi nila na kasali sila sa BARMM na nakamit natin bunga ng sakriprisyo ng kanilang mga asawa. Alhamdulillah kasi we are not left behind sa BARMM,” said Madato.
[Through this, they can feel that they are part of BARMM, which their husbands have sacrificed their lives for. Alhamdulillah because we are not left behind here in BARMM.]
Minister Sinarimbo shared insights into the program’s initial design, mentioning considerations for establishing sari-sari stores to the widows. However, upon realizing the advanced age of the widows, feasibility became a concern. In line with this, they are actively exploring further socio-economic interventions tailored specifically for this demographic.
“Mayroon tayong socio-economic intervention para sa kanila na mas structured. Aaralin pa [ng MILG] paano igugrupo yan, ano yung resources available in the community, at ano yung capacity nung mga widows.”
[We have a more structured socio-economic intervention for them. We will study how to group it, what resources are available in the community, and the capacity of the widows.] (Norjana Malawi/BIO)