ZAMBOANGA CITY: Gov. Mujiv Hata–man of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has pledged to help and support the programs of the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council.
“Poverty is still the biggest problems with 80 percent of our women and their spouses unemployed. So I asked Hata–man to provide small businesses and assistance for vendors,” said the council’s head Hajja Nurunisah Tan said.
Tan said the governor’s wife, Rep. Djalia Hataman, has agreed to provide seed loans for small businesses to be repaid in weekly installments.
But Hataman complained that they had provided livelihood programs in other provinces, but they failed to benefit poor families.
Tan assured Hataman that the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council would account for every single centavo spent on their pro-poor program.
She said their group has been working to transform women, particularly the poor, and make them partners in peace and progress by providing sustainable livelihood projects, among others.
Tan, who is the wife of Vice Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu, said poor women and children are their priorities now in the province and that they are working closely with various government agencies and the provincial and municipal governments to sustain many projects.
She said they have launched a regular feeding program for indigent children and held medical and humanitarian missions in coordination with the Integrated Provincial Health Office in different areas in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
“We hope to lower the maternal death rate with our free Sunday clinic that provides medicines for mothers and children. We are addressing the problem at the municipal level, the RHU [regional health unit],” Tan said.
She said they are also educating women about Republic Act 9262, or Violence against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act of 2004, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“The DSWD has the data, but when we started our campaign, VAWC cases including child abuse were being reported every week and we move to put the offenders in jail. One child was badly beaten by his stepfather who escaped but the police tracked him down and jailed him,” Tan said.
Despite the lack of funds, Tan, whose son Totoh Tan is the current Sulu governor, said they managed to carry out their various programs and projects over the years. The Sulu provincial government also built a new building to house the headquarters of the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council in the capital town of Jolo.
Last year, the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council with the support of the Sulu provincial and municipal governments, including various sectors, donated over P3 million in cash and relief goods to war refugees in Zamboanga City, and again just last month.