Munai, Lanao del Norte (30 September 2020) – The month-long celebration of this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month concluded on Wednesday with the turnover of a cheque worth PhP 40 million to implement community-driven peace and development projects under the government’s PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program.

The projects include the concreting of the Tamparan to Pantaon farm-to-market road (FMR) in Munai, Lanao del Norte worth PhP 35 million, and the purchase of farm equipment worth PhP 5 million.

The PAMANA projects were officially turned over by Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. to Munai Municipal Mayor Racma D. Andamama.

“Labis naming ikinagagalak ito dahil nasa gitna man tayo ng pandemya, nakikita natin na nagkaroon ng oras (ang gobyerno para) sa Munai. Ang Munai ay dati na hindi maganda ang imahe pero unti unti, dahil sa tulong ng Army at gobyerno, ay gumanda na po ang imahe ng Munai,” said Andamama.

The soon-to-be constructed farm-to-market road is situated in a road section leading to Camp Bilal, one of the government-recognized camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The said camp is being developed under the Camps Transformation component of the Normalization Program under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament and MILF Front Commander of the North Western Front Abdullah “Commander Bravo” Macapaar Al Haj said his people are united and working hand in hand in order to uplift the socio-economic conditions in the community.

“Magkakaisa po ang mga Muslim at Kristiyano dito sa Lanao del Norte at magtutulungan para sa kapayapaan. Ang buong Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) dito sa North Western Mindanao Front ay magkakaisa po tayo at magtutulungan po ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas at BARMM government, laban sa masasamang elemento,” Macapaar said.

“Itong lahat ng ibinigay sa Munai, para sa pagprogreso, para [sa camps transformation] ang mga kampo ng MILF, dahil sila ay sumama na sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas, ay magandang kalsada, magandang patubig, magandang ilaw, lahat ‘yan ay mga programa ng ating gobyerno, nagpapasalamat kami ng buong puso,” he added.

Foes to Partners for Development

Members of the security sector also forged a partnership agreement with Macapaar to implement other development initiatives within Camp Bilal.

Signatories to the agreement included Macapaar, BGen Nestor L. Abando, commander of the 55th Engineering Brigade PA and BGen Facundo O. Palafox IV, commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

The historical signing between former foes-turned-partners in development was officially witnessed by MGen Generoso M. Ponio, commander of the First Infantry Division and Mayor Andamama.

The signing of the development pact and the symbolic turnover of cheques were followed by the Kalangkapan O Kalilintad: Banging the Gong of Peace, an activity under the “Whole-of-Society” approach of the provincial government of Lanao del Norte.

Pakigdait Board Secretary Musa Mohamad Sanguila, a long-time peace partner of OPAPP, noted that the peace initiatives are being implemented by the government amid the pandemic.

“Peace is larger than COVID-19. We are aware of (its) threat…but it did not dampen our resolve to continue to work on peace nor will it diminish our spirits to weave shattered relationships,” said Sanguila.

The sound of the gong, he explained, symbolizes the sound of peace that “starts in everyone’s hearts, homes, and communities (because) peace is the only way.”

Peace mission continues amid health crisis

Presidential Peace Adviser and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte remains committed to bringing genuine peace and sustainable development in the Bangsamoro.

“Our President reaffirms his commitment to the peace process. Sinabi po sa akin ng ating mahal na Presidente [na] ang lahat ng signed peace agreements, it is our word of honor. Our legacy to fulfill our promises to the Filipino people,” Galvez said.

“Hndi tayo pwedeng mapagod at maging threatened sa COVID-19 sa panahong ito. We are taking a risk na pumunta dito para ipahayag sa inyo na we are fully supporting our peace process. Nakita natin na kahit may pandemya, andito tayo nag ce-celebrate ng Peace Month. Mahal po kayo ng ating mahal na Pangulo,” he added.

Galvez said that as the National Peace Consciousness Month 2020 comes to an end, he would like to honor the “men and women who have been at the forefront of our COVID-19 response efforts – doctors, nurses, national and local government workers, police officers and soldiers who have shown remarkable courage, commitment and selflessness in carrying out critical duties.”

Earlier this month, OPAPP also forged partnerships with the provincial governments of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte to implement PhP 74 million worth of peace and development projects.

Also present during the event were Mayor Vice Mayor Abdulazis Batingolo, Board Member Acmad Taha representing Lanao del Norte Governor, Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado, Linamon Mayor Randy Macapil, Poona Piagapo Mayor Muslima Macol, Pagayawan Mayor Khalida Sanguila, and Bilal Bin Rabbah 127 Base Command Commander Aleem Ansary Morad.

Also present were LtGen Corleto Vinluan Jr., PA, commander, Western Mindanao Command; MGen Generoso Ponio PA, commander, 1st Infantry Division; Col Charlemagne Batatola Jr, MNSA PA, deputy brigade commander, 2nd Mechanized Brigade and member of the CCCH for Lanao Provinces; and Capt. Michael Karain (CAV) PA, commanding officer, 43rd IB.

Also in attendance were Atty Sultan Badelles Macaan, chairman, MAPAD; Abelardo Moya, director, Pakigdait; Col Mohd Khair Bin Shaari, team site leader, International Monitoring Team; Xarifa Sanguila, team leader, Nonviolent Peaceforce; and Ustands Kahlid Macala, Pakigdait interfaith leader.

Other government officials in attendance were NTF Against COVID-19 Medical Adviser Dr. Teodoro Herboosa; OPAPP USec. David Diciano, chair of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel; Ariel Hernandez, co-chair of the Joint Normalization Committee; Dir. Cesar De Mesa, head of the PAMANA National Program Management Department; and Dir. Farrah Grace V. Naparan, member of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel.###