Camp Darapanan, Maguindanao—Following a series of dialogues with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Foreign Mission representatives visited Mindanao to launch continuing support programs to the peace process between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
European Union Ambassador Luc Véron said the EU has invested in the peace process “because we see remarkable achievements in the Bangsamoro, from developing its government structure to the organization of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.” The envoy added however, that ”a lot still needs to be done.”
UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said peace and development “must go hand-in-hand.” Nash Maulana
“Today, we celebrate another milestone in this complex but a rewarding journey.”
“As the United Nations, we are proud of being part of this collective investment jointly with the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, OPAPRU and our long-standing development partners, Australia and the European Union”, he said.”
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), said the twin programs would strengthen ground support for the continuance of the Peace Process.
Together with Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson, and UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, Ambassador Veron launched on June 15 two continuing programs designed to restore legal personality and thus, inherent civil rights for 7,000 decommissioned former combatants to be more eligible for the Amnesty Declaration of President Duterte.
The officials launched the Access to Legal Identity and Social Services for Decommissioned Combatants (ALIAS-DC) in support to be decommissioned combatants, as they live a civilian life by helping them restore legal personality—by first establishing their legal identity.
The other program is called the Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE) to uplift their socioeconomic well-being through sustainable livelihoods, community resilience and security.
Member of Bangsamoro Parliament Laisa Alamia said a ceremonial awarding of birth certificates marked the first step towards restoring the legal identity of each of former MILF combatants who have been decommissioned as part of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BOL).
Alamia heads the Task Force on the Decommissioned and the Communities (TFDC).
Another official said that most if not all of the combatants have lived on assumed names or aliases in years of dissidence, during which, they may have lost their legal personality under presumption of death in long period of absence.
The international community have long developed and established partnership with the OPAPRU and the BTA. The two programs will initially support the Normalization Process primarily through previous areas of conflict in MILF’s Camp Bilal (Lanao provinces), Camp Bushra (Lanao del Sur), Camp Abubakar (Maguindanao), Camp Rajamuda (North Cotabato/Maguindanao), Camp Badre (Maguindanao), and Camp Omar (Maguindanao).
After decades of conflict, obtaining a legal identity through birth certificates is a first step to legal transformation for the erstwhile guerrillas towards a normal civilian life. Access to socioeconomic development opportunities for decommissioned combatants will be established in the form of viable livelihoods support in erstwhile camps under strong partnerships among stakeholders.
“The EU is here to support the work of the Bangsamoro Transitional Government and the OPAPRU to further consolidate the peace process.
The European Union has been a staunch and long standing supporter of the peace efforts in Mindanao: with the projects we are launching today, and since 2020, we have invested over 105 million euros (almost P9 billion) in projects covering both development and capacity building for the transition,” a press statement from the EU Mission said, quoting the ambassador.
Ambassador Luc Véron added: “We are happy to be partnering with Australia and the UN on normalization, since enhancing the normalization track -allowing for all the people engaged in the conflict to lead peaceful and productive lives without leaving anyone behind–is crucial to build lasting peace.”
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson AO said, “Australia is a long-time supporter of the Peace Process in Mindanao, and in particular normalization.
I’m glad that we are helping provide such foundational assistance to former combatants. Identity documents are something that many of us take for granted, but if you lack these
you can find yourself locked out of education, health, work, and wider opportunities to participate in society. I hope these documents will help kick-start the process to transform these camps into peaceful communities.
He said: “Over my three and a half years in the Philippines I’ve been fortunate to work closely with the Government of the Philippines on the Peace Process, and in particular Presidential Advisor on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr.
I believe that the support of the global community is essential to the Peace Process here – no country can do this all on its own. I’m also proud that we are working on this together with the European Union and the United Nations, and I look forward to seeing more work that our collaboration will support in the future.”