Located at the southernmost rim of the Municipality of Datu Blah Sinsuat, (DBS), Barangay Laguitan is about five hours travel by land and by water from Cotabato City, passing through Lebak municipality.
The barangay with a population of 1,102 is one of the poorest barangays in Maguindanao and is a Peace and Development Community of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
It's not about what one hears from others, it's what one believes in and actually sees that matters, or so they say. It's true that most of the critics tell something unpleasant about some areas in ARMM, but ironically, they don't even know what it's like to be there, to live there to appreciate how folks have opted to live and stay there.
The barangay has no school building, no heath center, no water system, and not even a barangay hall stands there. It’s like a deserted place where the people are deprived of social services. Most residents are engaged into fishing and farming but lack technical know-how, still gets them lagging behind other barangays.
It lacks infrastructure support such as road opening to nearby barangays, thus, it would be next to impossible to have an abundant produce and transport it to other areas for selling. This barangay also has no public market to sell their products. Another is that the community is not technically aware of how to protect and manage their environment even though they are near forest and sea.
The unfortunate condition of barangays in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has prompted the ARMM leadership to come up with a program that will bring closer to the constituents the services of the ARMM Regional Government and so ARMM H.E.L.P.S. Convergence was conceived.
The ARMM H.E.L.P.S. stands for Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance and Synergy. This is being implemented by the ARMM Regional Government in close coordination with the provincial government through an integrated delivery of services in selected depressed barangays in ARMM.
On March 22, 2013, the ARMM Government with all line agencies in tow launched ARMM H.E.L.P.S. Convergence at Barangay Laguitan, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao. It was spearheaded by no less than the ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman accompanied by the heads of agencies and offices in ARMM.
Despite the difficulties they encountered during the travel, the Convergence Team continued to bear with them the hope of providing everyone adequate and good services that they need.
An ARMM H.E.L.P.S. coordinator said, "When we first heard about going to Barangay Laguitan at Datu Blah Sinsuat, we felt good knowing we could give a helping hand for the people there who are obviously hard-to-reach by the government. In some ways, the place seemed to be overlooked for a long period of time."
During the actual activity, the Office of the Regional Vice Governor (ORVG) extended operation tuli for young boys, provided vaccination kits and supplemental feeding to children. DSWD also turned over 18 units of core shelter, inaugurated through a ground-breaking ceremony the PAMANA Shelter Project. The agency also launched the Cash for Work and Day Care program for children.
A medical mission also took place conducted by the DOH-ARMM in coordination with the Office of Regional Vice Governor (ORVG)-ARMM. The DOH-ARMM also distributed PhilHealth Cards and Nutrition Services to the local residents. The Health Department also distributed three (3) boxes of essential health products like toothpaste, toothbrush and bath soaps. The Education Department supplied the barangay with 50 pieces of blackboards to supplement the educational needs of the children.
ARMM Regional Governor Hataman furthermore committed to prioritize teachers who are not LET passers but are willing to teach in the Barangay shall be given priority employment for teaching positions.
The Agriculture and Fishery Department distributed three hundred (300) pockets of assorted vegetable seedlings in the barangay.
The BFAR-ARMM also granted the barangay with fishing gears and other fishing paraphernalia. On the other hand, the DOST-ARMM provided IEC materials on Health and Education (Scholarship Program and Livelihood Programs).
ARMM Regional Governor Hataman also committed to the barangay residents the construction of access road in the area which shall be included in the 2013-2014 ARMM Budget. (Charisse Thea Acut- RSCO-ARMM, Bobby Uday-BPI-ARMM, Abdulrachman Mama-DSWD with the support of Dir. Nash Maulana of BPI-ARMM)