Madalum, Lanao del Sur (3 December 2020) — Even as the government battles the COVID-19 pandemic, it has continued to carry out interventions to sustain the gains of peace in the Bangsamoro.

This, as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), in partnership with the 55th Infantry Battalion, conducted an Information, Education and Communication campaign on the Bangsamoro peace process.

The activity aimed to update stakeholders on the status of implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), particularly on the government’s various peacebuilding efforts under the CAB’s normalization track.

OPAPP Director Farrah Naparan provided an overview of the normalization track, Jasmin Castillo from the agency’s security unit explained the ceasefire protocols as well as gave updates on the Joint Peace and Security Team, while James Abdul of OPAPP’s Area Management Office shared updates on PAMANA projects in Lanao del Sur.

Normalization: Transforming lives

Naparan, a member of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel, explained that the goal of normalization is to transform MILF combatants and their families into peaceful and productive citizens, and their communities into show windows of peace and development.

“Normalization is actually transforming, rehabilitating and sustaining human security in Bangsamoro communities,” she said.

Out of the 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants scheduled to be decommissioned, 12,145 have already undergone the process under the first and second phases of decommissioning. Phase 1 was held  in June 2015, while phase 2 was conducted from August 2019 to March 2020.

Each of the decommissioned combatants received transitional cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as benefited from the Department of Labor’s Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.

Other government initiatives include the construction of community-based infrastructure such as irrigation systems spearheaded by the National Irrigation Administration, as well rural health units with birthing facilities funded by the Department of Health and the Bangsamoro government.

Moreover, the Department of Trade and Industry, through its PRAISE program, and TESDA’s Technical-Vocational Education Training initiative, is helping to capacitate former combatants with essential livelihood skills.

On the other hand, the Camps Transformation Plan is being crafted by the Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation and is set to be completed within this month. The CTP will be the basis for socioeconomic interventions to be carried out in the six government-acknowledged MILF camps.

“Ang normalization hindi lang po ito para sa ating mga combatants. Ito po ay para rin sa mga pamilya nila at mga kumunidad. Ang aim nito ay ma transform ang mga ito into peaceful and productive citizens and communities,” Naparan stressed.

Collaborative participation is key 

“Lahat tayo ay stakeholders sa peace process. Kailangan nating malaman kung paano tayo makatulong sa peace process sa kanya-kanya nating mga munisiyo,” LTC Franco Raphael H Alano INF (GSC) PA, battalion commander of the 55th Infantry Battalion, said.

Naparan agreed with Alano, as she emphasized that the successful implementation of the national and Bangsamoro government’s programs and projects will depend on the support coming from stakeholders.

She then urged the local chief executives, security forces, and MILF-BIAF members attending the activity to continue supporting the Bangsamoro peace process.

“We will ask for your continuing support because the local government units, security forces, various government agencies and the Bangsamoro communities are all part of the implementation of the CAB. We can all do this if we are all in this together,” Naparan said.

For her part, Bacolod Kalawi Mayor Nora Dipatuan expressed her people’s full support to the government’s peace and development agenda.

“Bilang isang local chief executive sa amin sa Bacolod Kalawi, talagang gusto namin ang kapayapaan. Naniniwala rin ako na hindi ito makakamit kung hindi tayo mag tutulungan lahat. In general, ang munisipyo ng Bacolod Kalaway ay supportive sa Bangsamoro peace process,” Dipatuan said.

BIAF supports gov’t peace and development agenda

On the same day of the event, the OPAPP delegation, together with members of the 55th IB, trekked to the mountainous village of Liangan I to meet with the members of the MILF’s 101st, 102nd and 124th base commands.

During a town hall meeting, Naparan explained the purpose of their visit, as she called on the combatants to help the national and Bangsamoro governments push forward the peace process.

Johari Malindatu, barangay chairman of Liangan I and a MILF-BIAF member, pledged his community’s support behind the government’s peace and development agenda and its fight against terrorism.

Malindatu assured the government that his community is working hand-in-hand with the security sector to prevent lawless elements from entering their community.

“Suportado namin ang peace process. Supportado namin  ang gobyerno sa pag laban sa mga terorista. Sumusuporta kami na sa aming lugar walang makakapasok na terorista at walang masasama sa amin sa mga grupong ‘yan,” he said.###