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OPAPP looks forward to more milestones in peace process in PNoy’s last year in office July 25, 2015

Posted by HERBERT CURIA in PEACE TALK UPDATES.
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From the Website of OPPAP
links: http://www.opapp.gov.ph/milf/news/opapp-looks-forward-more-milestones-peace-process-pnoy%E2%80%99s-last-year-office

OPAPP looks forward to more milestones in peace process in PNoy’s last year in office

MANILA – With less than a year left in the Aquino administration, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said the government remains committed and is looking forward to reaching more milestones in the Bangsamoro peace process.

“We are not just counting the days left in the administration, but instead we are looking at what we still have left to do in terms of the peace process, especially the Bangsamoro peace process. We look forward to even more milestones as our term winds down,” Deles said.

“We want to be able to end our term clearly saying that we have achieved as much as we could in terms of our goal of ending all internal armed conflicts,” Deles added.

Government peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the other hand said that the last year of the Aquino administration presents an opportune time to look back at the milestones in the Bangsamoro peace process.

“As we buckle down to work in this last year, it would be also helpful to look back and reflect on what we have achieved in terms of bringing peace and development to Mindanao,” Ferrer said.

“Of course the signing of the Framework Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement are two of our biggest milestones,” Ferrer noted.

The Framework Agreement, signed October 15, 2012, was dubbed as the first historic milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process under the current administration. After nearly two years of continuing negotiations it was followed by the Comprehensive Agreement, signed March 27, 2014, which successfully concludes over 17 years of negotiations and signals the end to the decades-long conflict between the government and the MILF.

For this breakthrough, Ferrer, the first woman in the world who signed as chief negotiator in a major peace deal, received the Hillary Clinton award for Women, Peace and Security given by Georgetown University last April.

The CAB is composed of the FAB, four annexes and one addendum, and previous agreements since 1997 when the peace talks began. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is the legal iteration of the CAB, was submitted to both chambers of Congress on September 10, 2014 and is currently awaiting passage and popular ratification.

“We also anticipate the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress by the third quarter of this year, which we will be the next major milestone in our roadmap,” Ferrer added.

Earlier, Ferrer lauded the leadership of the lower House for its continuing support to the passage of the BBL while noting that people are anticipating the submission of the substitute bill of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos so that the process of plenary deliberations in the Senate can move forward.

Milestones in the normalization track

Aside from the signed peace agreements, Ferrer also noted the milestones in the normalization track of the Bangsamoro peace process.

“Just last month we witnessed the turnover of 75 high-powered and crew-serve weapons and the decommissioning of 145 MILF combatants. We are preparing the next steps in the decommissioning process as we move forward on the legislative track,” Ferrer said.

Decommissioning is part of the total transformation program of MILF from being an armed group into a social movement and a political party. The process is crucial in enabling MILF combatants to return to peaceful and productive civilian lives, and the development of their communities.

“After undergoing training on development planning, the MILF base commanders who sit in the six task forces on MILF Camps Transformation and their government counterparts in these joint bodies, are now identifying the requirements to implement specific priority projects like feeder roads, water supply system and electricity supply lines,” said Ferrer.

In addition, trainings for the next batches of the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) are being set. The first batch of 30 JPST – 15 men from the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and 15 men from the Philippine Army and the police – are now deployed in the Arms Storage Site for the decommissioned weapons in Camp Iranun, Maguindanao. The JPST helps the Norwegian-led team of the Independent Decommissioning Body guard the arms storage site.

Milestones in development, transition preparations

“We have also launched the Bangsamoro Development Plan or BDP last November 2014, a milestone in putting in place the long-term blueprint for development in the Bangsamoro,” Ferrer noted.

The BDP is a six-year plan formulated by the Bangsamoro Development Agency to provide a medium- and long-term vision and strategy for the recovery and development of the areas covered by the proposed Bangsamoro region.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro continues to be rolled out in Bangsamoro communities since it was launched on February 2013. The program, which has been extended to June 2015, is jointly implemented by both the government and the MILF.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro program has health, education, and livelihood program components. In June 2015, reported accomplishments in terms of education component include: all 639 target beneficiaries enrolled under the Commission on Higher Education’s Study Grant Program for academic year 2014-2015; provision of 1,000 vocational trainings by TESDA; and DepEd provision of DepEd grants to 44 madaris (Islamic schools). On the health component, accomplishments include: provision of PhilHealth health insurance premiums to all 11,000 beneficiaries; supplementary feeding program provided by the DSWD to 11, 032 beneficiaries, construction of  daycare centers, and Cash for Work programs for 11,000 beneficiaries; and completion of DOH Barangay Health Stations in various Bangsamoro communities. For the livelihood component, the Department of Agriculture provided six communities with farm tools, equipment and farm animals while the DENR undertook a greening program for 745 hectares of lands to augment the income of 150 households.

“In terms of the transition, the Coordination Team for the Transition (CT4T) will serve as our primary mechanism that would facilitate a smooth transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), or the period between the plebiscite and the 2016 elections,” Ferrer explained. On November 2014, the Terms of Reference for CT4T was signed by both government and MILF panels.

“All these milestones were made possible because of our people’s support and willingness to work for peace, and because of the strong resolve of this administration and the MILF to permanently end the war and bring peace and development to Mindanao. We are confident all these will translate to even more milestones for the peace process, and better lives for our sisters and brothers in the region” Ferrer said.

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