OPAPRU executive director Wilben Mayor (Photo courtesy of OPAPRU)

MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Wednesday said the shared responsibility of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been the key in ensuring the successful normalization track under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

OPAPRU executive director Wilben Mayor said the interventions carried out through the Normalization Program, especially those under its socioeconomic component, are the result of the strong collaboration between the government and the MILF.

“Because the peace and order situation is improving in BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), economic activities have already increased. Ito ‘yung mga magagandang nakikita natin (These are the good things that we see) because of the fruits of our labor, both from the national government and the MILF,” he said in a statement.

Mayor said the Bangsamoro people’s quality of life continues to improve, as evidenced by the region's poverty incidence declining by a significant double-digit rate -- from 52.6 percent in 2018 to 29.8 percent in 2021, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

“Because of the improved peace in the BARMM, maraming (there are a lot of) economic activities at prospects. No less than Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that there is a bright future in Mindanao,” he added.

He also cited the increased complementation between the GPH and the MILF’s various peace mechanisms, which have resulted in more effective program implementation on the ground.

“These mechanisms are composed of national government representatives, as well as the (those coming from the) MILF. Any decision that will be brought up by these mechanisms is a collective decision,” Mayor said.

He said there should always be an agreement between the government and the MILF before these programs are implemented.

Another testament to the strong partnership between the GPH and the MILF is the ongoing decommissioning process of MILF combatants, which is among the key provisions of the Annex on Normalization of the CAB.

As of Oct. 24, a total of 23,985 MILF members have been decommissioned or nearly PHP2.4 billion in transitional cash assistance provided to them.

This financial assistance is on top of the other socio economic projects worth nearly PHP750 million, which these former combatants stand to receive from the government such as social protection, capacity development, livelihood and employment assistance, and small-scale infrastructure programs.

A total of PHP3.1 billion funds which have been pooled from the national government and various international donor agencies have been earmarked for socio-economic programs for the decommissioned combatants, their families, and communities.

OPAPRU chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said the implementation of the socio-economic development aspect of the normalization track is crucial to the Bangsamoro peace process, as they aim to uplift the lives of former combatants and their families.

“We are optimistic that the funding requirements for the socioeconomic programs will be met in the succeeding years, as member-agencies of the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization’s socioeconomic sub-cluster are gearing up towards the inclusion of normalization in its regular programs,” he added.

“The work for the normalization track, as well as the political track, is a shared commitment and effort. I urge our MILF counterparts to continue working with us to fast-track the implementation of our programs so that we can successfully transform the lives of our MILF brothers and sisters and bring sustainable peace and development to their communities,” Galvez said. (PNA)