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Madaris learning centers in South Cotabato built on mutual trust

Community leaders in Sitio Bio, Barangay Lapu in Polomolok, received on Jan. 30 the key of responsibility for the donated Madrasah building built through a partnership of private institutions and government forces. (Photo by Danilo E. Doguiles/PIA Region 12)

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- A partnership between non-governmental organizations, the Philippine Army, and local government units has resulted in the construction of Madaris educational centers in two villages in Polomolok town, this province.

Madaris is a plural form of the Arabic word “Madrasah,” which means a “place for learning or study” or simply means a school that can be considered a private educational institution, teaching Islamic studies and Arabic language to Muslims.

The Mahintana Foundation Inc., DOLE Philippines, and AY Foundation Inc., in partnership with the 5th Special Forces Battalion and the 54th Engineer “Sarangay” Brigade of the Philippine Army, the provincial government of South Cotabato, and the municipal government of Polomolok, turned over on Jan. 30, two newly completed Madaris learning centers to Muslim community leaders in Barangays Lapu and Magsaysay in Polomolok.

Liza Hora, executive director of the Mahintana Foundation, Inc. (MFI), told the Philippine Information Agency that the Madaris learning centers were constructed with materials provided by DOLE Philippines and funding from the AY Foundation Inc., and its affiliates, including the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

“This is one of the components providing basic social services support to the peace and development program we are providing in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani,” Hora said. 

The first Madaris education center, officially named Madrasah Arramaniyah Al-Islamiah, is located in Sitio Bio, Barangay Lapu, while the second school, Maharlika Islamic Learning Center, is based in Purok Maharlika, Barangay Magsaysay, of the same municipality.

The adopt-a-school program is implemented under MFI’s Promoting Peace Engagements and Community Empowerment (ProPEACE 2) Program, backed by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).

Officials from Dole Philippines, the AY Foundation, and the Muslim Council of Elders signed documents transferring the ownership of the Madrasah in Sitio Bio to the community. (Photo by Danilo E. Doguiles/PIA Region 12)

Meanwhile, manpower and labor services for the construction of both facilities were provided by the Philippine Army’s 54th Engineer Brigade.

Capt. Rogie Muñoz, commander of the 10th Special Forces (SF) Company of the 5th SF Battalion, which has operational jurisdiction over the area, said the project in Sitio Bio, Barangay Lapu, was a rehabilitation of the “extremely dilapidated” madrasah built by the community over 20 years ago, while that in Barangay Magsaysay was “constructed from the ground up.”

The projects broke ground on November 6, 2023, and were completed on January 20, 2024.

Muñoz noted that Barangay Lapu was “embroiled in turmoil” for over a decade. “The nucleus of the Dawlah Islamiya Maguid group originated in this barangay [Barangay Lapu],” Muñoz said. 

“For almost a decade, this place, kumbaga, hindi naaabot ng serbisyo ng gobyerno [has been beyond the reach of government services] because of the fact that the threat here remained very high. Maraming nag-attempt na magpasok dito ng mga [many have attempted to enter their] services na [that came from] non-governmental organizations, but due to the persistence of violence, medyo na-hamper ang services [services were somewhat hampered],” he explained.

In 2023, the Department of National Defense declared the Dawlah Islamiya Maguid group "dismantled." 

The 5th Special Forces “Primus Inter Pares” Battalion received the “Campaign Streamer Award” from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on January 16, 2024, for the troop’s efforts that resulted in the dismantling of the DI Maguid group.

Hora said the disintegration of the terrorist group and the entry of services open the community to better economic prospects.

“With these initiatives, we are able to invite investors, such as companies like DOLE Philippines, to provide economic support to the community. Mahintana right now is doing community profiling and community consultation dialogues and somehow, eventually, identifying alternative livelihood options for our identified clients and partners,” she pointed out, citing the importance of peace as a precursor to development.

Efforts are also underway to strengthen Madaris education in the area, with Polomolok Mayor Bernie Palencia establishing a technical working group for this purpose. Just recently, the TWG conducted benchmarking with Ateneo de Davao’s Al Qalam Islamic Identities and Dialogue.

Ustadhjah Rahima Andiam, a volunteer educator, said she is determined to teach the schoolchildren about the ways of Islam so that they will be well guided and live life according to the prescribed teachings in the Holy Qur'an. (Photo by Danilo E. Doguiles/PIA Region 12)

In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency, Ustadjah Rahima Andiam, a volunteer educator at the Madrasah Arramaniyah Al-Islamiah in Sitio Bio, said the rehabilitation of their old one-classroom school into a concrete building is a welcome development for the community and the children. 

Dito nila [children] mapag-aralan ang pananampalataya sa Allah, pagbibigay ng kawang-gawa, maging mabuti sa mga magulang, sa mga tao o sa mga kaibigan [Here the children can strengthen their faith and learn more about Allah, including giving charity and being good to parents, people or friends],” Andiam said.

Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong sa paggawa nito pati na ang mga sundalo, mga pulis—may tulong din sila dito. Kaya sisikapin namin na pagbutihin ang pagtuturo namin upang sa ganoon, ‘yong mga anak namin ay magaganda ang kalalabasan nila at makatulong sa community [Many thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, including the soldiers and the police, among others. We will try to improve our teaching so that our children will end up doing good to help the community],” she further conveyed.

Madrasah Arramaniyah Al-Islamiah has three classrooms, with each classroom equipped with separate tiled toilets for boys and girls, while the Maharlika Islamic Learning Center has two classrooms.

Classes in both schools are held on Saturdays and Sundays. (DED - PIA SOCCSKSARGEN)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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