COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is set to replace a wooden footbridge in Barangay Tukanalipao – the site of the January 25 Mamasapano incident.
According to officials, a steel bridge and an 880 meters access road will be built in Takunalipao, connecting the village to the main highway to facilitate the movement of people and agricultural products.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the P7.5-million access road and the 120 meters, P10-million steel bridge were held last Tuesday. The event brought together officials from the government, military, business sector and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The bridge project was given the moniker “bridge of peace” as the infrastructure would be built in the aftermath of the incident in Mamasapano that killed a total of 67 people, 44 of whom are members of the police Special Action Force.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the infrastructure projects should help residents overcome the scars dealt by the January 25 incident and facilitate agricultural development in Mamasapano.
Hataman also announced the realignment of at least P10-million worth of livelihood projects under ARMM’s Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy project to Tukanalipao that is being worked out with the Department of Budget and Management.
Executive Director Amir Mawallil of the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information told The Manila Times that the Muslim autonomous region will invest around P77-million in various infrastructure projects to help address the development needs of identified communities in Mamasapano.
Mawallil also said that aside from the steel bridge and access road, the region’s Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under Regional Secretary Emil Sadain will also put up nine school buildings and eight water and sanitation facilities.
Von Al-Haq, spokesman of MILF’s armed component, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces,welcomed the rehabilitation of the bridge and the other development projects of the ARMM.
Al-Haq said the MILF is a “pro-development organization” and they welcome projects designed to improve conditions in the Bangsamoro areas.
For his part, armed forces chief, General Gregorio Pio Catapang declared the termination of the all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
In a statement Catapang said: “Wala ng all-out offensive. Pauwiin na natin ang ating mga kababayan sa kanilang mga tahanan.” [The offensive has been terminated. All the residents displaced by the fighting will now be allowed to return to their homes.]