QUEZON CITY, Oct. 22 (PIA)--Around 5,000-7,000 decommissioned combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and their families will benefit from the PhP 100M-worth of livelihood and employment assistance to be provided under a Memorandum of Agreement signed here on Monday between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The fund will be utilized within the last quarter of this year for the implementation of programs under the normalization track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the national government and the MILF. The P100-million will cover this year's decommissioned combatants, which started in late August.
These programs aim to strengthen the government's efforts to help the combatants make the transition to peaceful and productive civilian lives.
"We have more or less 5,000 to 7,000 combatants to be decommissioned late this year and who were all subject for transformation. Their (combatants) next of kin are also qualified as beneficiaries of this program," Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said in his remarks during the signing ceremony.
The Memorandum of Agreement is anchored on three key objectives namely: (1) assist the decommissioned MILF combatants to transition into civilian lives, and facilitate the transformation of their communities and of the six acknowledged MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities through the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program and Emergency Employment Programs (DILEEP) and other employment programs such as Government Internship Program (GIP), Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), JobStart and capacity building activities such as the institutionalization of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) services in strategic areas; (2) adopt the conflict-sensitive and peace promoting approach in the implementation of socio-economic and confidence-building related interventions in the Bangsamoro; (3) establish and operationalize institutional partnerships and coordination mechanisms at the national and regional/field office level to ensure that the first and second objectives are achieved.
DOLE is among the government agencies under the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) which was created by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte by virtue of Executive Order 79.
EO 79 aims to ensure that key government agencies will work together to effectively implement the normalization track of the CAB.
The CAB is a landmark agreement between the government and the MILF which represents the hopes and dreams of the Bangsamoro people.
The peace agreement's political track paved the way for the creation of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The Normalization Track, on the other hand, is focused on the socioeconomic, security, confidence building, and transitional justice and reconciliation aspects that will help MILF combatants make the transition to mainstream society.
For his part, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III highlighted the significance of the agreement to the Normalization process being carried out by the government and the MILF.
"Today is an important occasion for the DOLE because the Bangsamoro Normalization is indeed an important leg to the Duterte administration's overall aspiration for peace with various sectors by 2022," Bello said.
Galvez emphasized that the partnership between OPAPP and DOLE will bring much-needed socio-economic assistance to beneficiary-communities.
"We hope that through this agreement, we shall also be able to reach out to underserved, vulnerable sectors, and provide them with sustainable livelihood and employment programs," he said. (PIA-NCR/OPPAP)