Inching towards attainment of peace and development in the region, OIC Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman spearheaded the 2013 ARMM H.E.L.P.S. Convergence that finally reached the shores of barangays Matatal and Bus-Bus in the island of Sulu on the 20th of February where the constituents of Sulu led by Prov. Gov. Abdusakur M. Tan welcomed the Convergence Team.
With the theme “ARMM Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan at Kasaganaan”, the synergy of services aimed to provide joint interventions focused on Health, Education, Livelihood, and Peace and Governance to areas profiled to have high poverty rates in the region.
Barangays Matatal of Maimbung and Bus-Bus of Jolo were among the identified areas that need immediate assistance. Matatal with a population of 3,100 mainly depends on farming for their livelihood. Poor health services, poor quality of education services, and water scarcity are among the recognized difficulties in the area. Meanwhile, Bus-Bus documented in 2010 to have less than 45,000 populations is considered the most populous area in the province of Sulu. However, fishing as their primary source of income, is fast becoming scarce due to improper aquaculture techniques leading to the deterioration of their fishing industry.
Prominent among the challenges in barangay Bus-Bus are flood during the rainy season, less existence of job opportunities, less support of health awareness and medical assistance, less access to potable water supply, and low quality of graduates in elementary grades.
With these, ARMM H.E.L.P.S. extended available resources that includes medical mission from the Department of Health (DOH), distribution of ovicidal/larvicidal trap system from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), supplementary feeding from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), skills demo on food processing by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and ceremonial distribution of fishing gears and dispersal of tilapia fingerlings from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Activities during the launching and planned services for barangays Matatal and Bus-Bus were sealed respectively with the signing of pledge of commitment among the ARMM officials, Provincial Governor, Municipal Mayors, and Barangay Captains of said communities. Immediately after the launching, 20 units of shelters granted through the ARMM-Transition Investment Support Plan (TISP) of the DSWD were inaugurated at Alu Layag-Layag, Parang, Sulu. Also, to help improve the increasing fish scarcity in their coasts the Mangrove Rehabilitation Project at Kanaway, Parang, Sulu was initiated through the National Greening Program under the TISP of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). With the joint services of the ARMM line agencies, it is with high hopes that the small island of Sulu with its untapped resources will gain advancement through the projects implemented in the area especially in the areas where the spirit of bayanihan was rekindled. (Abigail Morallas-TESDA-ARMM, Glicelle Rose Autencio-DOTC-ARMM, Priscilla Candao BCH-ARMM with the support of Dir. Nash Maulan a of BPI-ARMM).