QUEZON CITY, July 25, 2018 – Shortly after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) by both the Senate and House of Representatives, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Implementing Panels underwent a workshop to jumpstart the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF).

In his speech, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza expressed his gratitude to all those who helped in the passage of the organic law. “All of us brought this milestone here,” he said.

MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal said while the organic law is “not a perfect law,” it is “more than enough to start with.”

He said the MILF and the government have become “partners” for peace and the fulfillment of Bangsamoro aspirations.

“After the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the situation between the two partners have improved very much,” Iqbal said.

For his part, GPH Implementing Panel Nabil A. Tan said the bigger work now looming is the implementation of the CAB.

He said the Normalization program under the CAB “will be in full swing as all of us strive to accomplish the noble task towards just and lasting peace.”

Signed in 2014, the CAB is the final peace agreement between the GPH and MILF. It is the culmination of 17 years of negotiations between the two parties and will pave the way for genuine and meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro.

Normalization is a process whereby communities in the Bangsamoro can achieve their desired quality of life in a peaceful manner.

Included in the Annex on Normalization is the need to establish a Trust Fund to create an avenue for international donors and their partners to efficiently release urgent support for the Bangsamoro.

The BNTF Terms of Reference was signed by both GPH and MILF on May 30, 2016, reaffirming their steadfast commitment in moving the peace forward in the Bangsamoro.

Aside from the aim of supporting the normalization, the BNTF will also assist in the development of six previously acknowledged MILF camps, with the end in view of transforming these areas into peaceful and productive communities.

As outlined in its terms of reference, the purpose of the BNTF is to finance, coordinate, and oversee the delivery of assistance from international partners and other donors in the implementation of the normalization process.

Representatives of peace mechanisms on the ground as well as international donors are also present at the ongoing workshop. They are expected to share their expertise and insights to come up with a program design and activities reflective of a peaceful future of the Bangsamoro.

These programs and activities can potentially be funded by the BNTF.

Peace mechanisms present include Task Force Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities, Joint Task Force Camps Transformation, Joint Normalization Committee, Joint Peace and Security Committee, Independent Decommissioning Body, and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation.

Representatives from the World Bank, and United Nations Development Programme are also present to facilitate during the workshop. ###