INTERVENTION. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Wednesday (June 29, 2022) said some 305 national IDs and 1,064 birth certificates belonging to decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and their families were processed through the civil registration assistance project spearheaded by Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation and the Philippine Statistics Authority. The process is part of their full integration into mainstream society. (Photo courtesy of OPAPRU)

MANILA – The government has assisted decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and their families to register for the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) and acquire birth certificates as part of their full integration into mainstream society.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Wednesday reported that some 305 Philippine identification (PhilID) cards or the national ID and 1,064 birth certificates of MILF members and their families were processed with the help of a civil registration assistance project, jointly organized by the Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The beneficiaries of the joint JTFCT-PSA initiative include former MILF combatants, senior citizens, and members of indigenous peoples (IP) -- were residents of the MILF’s Camps Badre in the municipalities of Ampatuan, Shariff Aguak, and Camp Omar in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Under the joint peace mechanisms of the Government of the Philippines-MILF peace implementing panels, the JTFCT is mandated to carry out socioeconomic interventions for previously acknowledged MILF camps under the Normalization Program of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Nasrola Sapal, JTFCT-MILF member based in Camp Omar, cited the activity as the “first of its kind to be conducted in the area.”

Mahalaga talaga ang birth certificate at National ID, lalong-lalo na ang IPs natin dahil maraming IPs dito from Barangay Saniag. Sa taas ng bundok pa sila galing (The birth certificate and national ID are really important, especially to our IPs because there are many IPs here from Barangay Saniag. They come from the mountains),” Sapal said, noting that it could “largely benefit the tri-people -- Christians, Muslims, Lumad” in the community.

Siguro, kung papipiliin sila kung bigyan ng isang libo o i-cater sila sa national ID, lalo na sa birth certificate at lalo na sa maraming mga anak, mas piliin nila itong registration. Masaya sila masyado kasi mismo taga-PSA na ang pumunta dito. Wala pang bayad at naka-less pa sila ng transportation (Maybe if given a chance to choose between receiving PHP1,000 or to avail of the National ID, especially the birth certificates and particularly those with many children, they will choose the registration more. They were really happy because the PSA came here. They didn’t have to pay for their transportation),” he added.

Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2018, Republic Act 11055 or the PhilSys Act aims to establish a single national ID for all Filipinos and resident aliens.

The national ID shall be a valid proof of identity that shall be a means of simplifying public and private transactions, enrolment in schools, and the opening of bank accounts.

It will also boost efficiency, especially in dealing with government services where people will only need to present the PhilID during transactions.

Meanwhile, the government has integrated PhilSys with its initiative under the Social Development Domain of the Camps Transformation Plan (CTP) which was approved by GPH and MILF peace implementing panels last year.

The Camps Transformation Plan is a six-year plan (2021-2026) that outlines the process, direction, and interventions that will be carried out to harness the full economic potential of the camps and transform them into show windows of peace and development.

OPAPRU executive director Cesar de Mesa said the JTFCT’s partnership with the PSA is part of the peace mechanisms’ effort “to bring inclusive socioeconomic assistance to the tri-people residing in MILF communities.”

“This civil registration project is among the JTFCT’s initiatives that seek to bring about the meaningful transformation of camps into productive and resilient communities,” De Mesa said.

The government has been providing for the needs of former MILF combatants, including financial assistance, social entrepreneurship projects, and skills development training which are among the several accomplishments of the Bangsamoro peace process initiatives under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. (PNA)