By Hanah Tabios
As the present means of communication becomes dependent on digital media, a “peace radio” in the western part of Basilan province has recently hit the airwaves to give hope to its audience living in remote coastal villages.
Broadcasting through WBA 99.1, western Basilan’s first broadcast facility is situated at the heart of the municipality of Maluso, once dubbed as the shabu capital of the province where the Philippine Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf had camps in the past.
But years later, its local government received the Seal of Good Local Governance in 2017 and recognition from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for its continuing peace and security programs.
“Malaking bagay itong radio station kasi itong five municipalities are rural municipalities and you know in the rural areas, radio station is the most widespread means of communication pa rin the rural areas. So it helps in terms of education, in terms of advocacy building, and in terms of information dissemination,” Maluso town mayor Hanie Bud told the Manila Bulletin in an interview at the sidelines of the national launching of Western Basilan Alliance (WBA).
Bud said the western Basilan local leaders, who initiated to build the inter-local cooperation, have recognized the difficulty of delivering social services among their constituents, hence the establishment of the broadcast facility.
“Sa ngayon, mahirap paintindihin yung mga ginagawa namin kasi hindi naman naaabot yung pinakaliblib na lugar in the communities. So, with the coming up of the peace radio station, I think we can maximize the delivery of services and it also help as a feed backing mechanism,” he added.
For now, WBA 99.1 follows the regular working hours for its programming format from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. since its launch last October 14. It is managed by the newly formed alliance WBA with the support of the five-member local leaderships of Lantawan, Hadji Muhtamad, Maluso, Sumisip, and Tabuan Lasa.
“Sa ngayon, yung aming target is coastal resource management, preservation of coastal marine resource and development. Naniniwala kami na with the current calamity of global warming, kailangan i-educate ang yung tao sa ating environmental protection,” Bud added when asked about their long-term plans about their recent milestone
To note, the broadcast facility is a joint project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development.
Zia Ulitaq Basa, WBA radio station manager, also told the Manila Bulletin that the broadcast frequency reaches not just the five coastal towns in the west of Basilan, but including the whole province and the nearby municipalities of Zamboanga City and Jolo, Sulu.
“Peace radio kasi para maconceptualize yung Basilan na Basilan na iba na ngayon where the advocacy our governor is refining Basilan”, he said.