PICC, PASAY CITY– The Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) agreed to adopt the Localized Normalization Implementation (LNI) as part of national government-led strategies to ramp up the implementation of programs and other interventions that will benefit former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants.

The LNI concept was introduced during the 11th ICCMN meeting on Tuesday, March 19, wherein the body also discussed the status of several pending issues it needs to review and resolve.

These concerns included the implementation of government-funded projects for 2024, proposed projects for 2025, and the strengthening of the whole-of-government approach by ensuring the more active participation of local government units in the Normalization Program.

LNI as ICCMN’s latest strategy

The LNI is designed to complement and support the Normalization Program under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the landmark peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF in 2014.

According to Mr. Ariel Hernandez, head of the ICCMN Socioeconomic Cluster, the LNI will encourage greater synergy among all sectors involved in the implementation of the Normalization Program.

Through the LNI, project implementers will be able to tailor-fit its initiatives on the actual situation on the ground, particularly needs of the beneficiaries and come up with designs that will ensure increased efficiency and sustainability in project management.

“The LNI will focus more on the provincial setting, where the governor is the one on top and there will be a joint secretariat composed of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, OPAPRU, Provincial Governors, Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and lower mechanisms,” Hernandez explained.

“We will harvest the synergy of all sectors in the provincial setting like the religious sectors, CSOs, non-government organizations, women and the youth, farmers and those in the academe, the MILF, MNLF and even the former violent extremists,” he continued.

Hernandez emphasized that the LNI is locally-led and interagency-supported. Through the LNI, LGUs shall take ownership of the projects under the Normalization and Transformation Programs and since they are locally-led, interventions will be calibrated to adapt to peculiarities in the local setting.

Hernandez also reported to the body updates relative to concerns raised during the ICCMN Ground Consultations in the 6 previously acknowledged MILF camps held on November 21 to 24, 2023 in which 17 agencies participated. The full report on the results of the consultations were provided to ICCMN agencies.

Gearing up for amnesty

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Presidential Assistant David Diciano, who leads the ICCMN security cluster, reported that 26,132 MILF combatants have been decommissioned, together with 4,625 MILF organization-owned weapons.

Diciano added that 20 dispute resolution initiatives were supported by the cluster as of March 2024.

“Aside from decommissioning, we have also deployed 24 Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST) and we have [supported the entry of] 396 former MILF and MNLF combatants into the Philippine National Police,” Diciano said.

On the transitional justice and reconciliation aspect, OPAPRU Executive director Cesar De Mesa reported that earlier this month, the Senate adopted Proclamations Nos. 405, and 406 granting amnesty to members of the MILF and MNLF who have committed crimes to advance their political beliefs.

“We are now harmonizing plans and activities for the amnesty application of MILF members. We will also conduct information, education and communication activities in the MILF areas to share this good news, as well as educate them if they are eligible and how they can avail the amnesty,” De Mesa said.

Meanwhile, ICCMN Chairperson Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., represented during the meeting by Undersecretary Joahna Paula Domingo, urged the body to ramp up its efforts under the Normalization Program.

“I enjoin all member-agencies to expedite the implementation of all remaining deliverables. With the upcoming conclusion of the transition period, the need to ramp up the completion of the Normalization Program remains ever promptable,” Lagdameo said in his message read by OSAP Usec. Johana Domingo

“As we pursue the course ahead, let us always be guided by the principles of inclusivity, of transparency and collaboration,” he added.

For his part, ICCMN co-chair, Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the ICCM’s main priority is the timely completion of the decommissioning process of MILF forces and their weapons within the year.

“Achieving this requires increased synergy among all stakeholders, especially in addressing bottlenecks in the process, as well as expediting the delivery of socioeconomic assistance to the MILF combatants. As we know, delays in this process slow down the decommissioning itself and the successful reintegration of combatants into civilian life,” Galvez noted.

He emphasized that the active engagement of LGUs in the implementation of normalization projects under the LNI shall ensure that these interventions will have greater impact and sustainability among the people.

The 11th ICCMN meeting was attended by top officials of ICCMN member-agencies and ministers of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim government.

The ICCMN was established on April 24, 2019 through Executive Order (EO) No. 79 issued by then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. To ensure the gains achieved by the ICCMN, the Marcos administration issued EO No. 6 in 2022, which aims to strengthen the body.

The ICCMN is tasked to ensure the timely, appropriate and efficient delivery of the Normalization Program through a whole-of-government approach, including the mobilization of resources needed to realize the objectives of the Normalization Program, and fully transform the MILF combatants and their families into peaceful and productive members of society. ###