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A new local radio station aimed at promoting peace and development has signed on the air from its studio located at the new Municipal Government Center in Barangay Taberlongan, Maluso, Basilan Province.

 

With a power of 2,000 watts, WBA 99.1 MHz FM station entered the airwaves last Monday, October 14, and will initially broadcast from 8 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, Mondays to Fridays, to target communities on the western seaboard of the island province.

 

WBA 99.1 FM is operated by the Western Basilan Alliance (WBA) composed of the municipalities of Hadji Mutamad, Lantawan, Maluso, Sumisip and Tabuan Lasa.

 

The radio facility is a component of the Modeling Inter-LGU Alliance in Basilan (MILAB) project funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and implemented by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), while the building was constructed out of the development funds allocated by the provincial government of Basilan and the municipal government of Maluso.

 

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Speaking during the inauguration, IAG Executive Director Benedicto Bacani underlined the role of radio as an instrument in shaping the minds of the people. Bacani hopes the WBA radio station will “increase the capacity building of our leaders as well as their constituents in spreading peace and prosperity in their own community” and “lay down the foundation of coordination and cooperation between the local and provincial government by working together to achieve their common goals.”

 

Maluso Mayor Hanie Bud said he believes radio is still an effective medium for engaging and reaching out to people and to help local governments develop a sustainable management capacity.

 

Basilan Governor Hadjiman “Jim” Hataman-Salliman said leaders and their constituencies need to start seeing development holistically—away from the traditional view that it is only about physical infrastructure. The establishment of the radio station, he added, couldn’t have come at a better time as it will support social communication among the peoples and local governments of the alliance in pursuit of good governance and development.

 

IAG’s engagement with WBA through the AECID-funded MILAB project started in 2017. MILAB Project Manager Noor M. Saada said at that time that “the idea of WBA came from the mayors.”

 

“They have this realization that there is a misconception that Basilan is always in conflict. They would like to demonstrate and correct the misconception that not all the areas in Basilan are in conflict, and that a portion of Basilan is ready to jumpstart development, because it is relatively peaceful,” he added.

 

MILAB was conceptualized to help strengthen and institutionalize WBA.

 

A champion of WBA since its inception, Governor Hataman-Salliman urged local leaders then to think beyond elections – of getting elected and holding on to power – towards a higher level of governance driven by a collective vision.

 

In January 2018, 96 barangay captains of the five alliance member municipalities contributed to the formulation of WBA’s vision by identifying top three development priorities in their respective communities.

 

While most existing inter-LGU alliances across the country concentrate on very specific issues like economic development, health or coastal resource management, WBA opted for a holistic approach to include agriculture, fisheries, environmental protection, good governance, peace and security, education, health, and more recently,  even eco-tourism. Through the WBA platform, the five municipalities hope to attract partnerships and investments from both public and private entities.

 

In his video message during the inauguration of the WBA radio station, H.E. Jorge Moragas, Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines, recalled that the WBA “arose from the common understanding of its local leaders on the importance of coordination and partnership as the best solution to address some of the immediate needs of their communities. They understood that they have common needs and interests, as well as overlapping concerns, that cannot be managed separately or independently in their pursuit of sustainable development and peace.”

 

“Through the radio station, the participating local governments aim to encourage people´s feedback to continuously enhance the Alliance and promote their involvement in communication processes and consensus building in key areas of their local development. But it could serve as well as a platform to appreciate the unique social, multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious context of its communities, and promote a culture of peace and mutual caring and well-being, creating knowledge and practices that might remain longer than the period of the project itself”, the Spanish ambassador added.

 

The inauguration of the WBA radio station marks the second phase of the MILAB project.

 

Photos from the Municipality of Maluso Facebook page