PNoy forms task force on Bangsamoro

By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 20 2013 07:51 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2013 03:51 PM

MANILA - President Aquino has formed a government task force to coordinate with the soon-to-be-formed 15-member Transition Commission that will institutionalize the socio-civic projects for the impoverished Bangsamoro areas in Mindanao.

Aquino issued Administrative Order 37 creating a task force on Bangsamoro development to be headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

The members of the task force include the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the departments of Labor, Health, Education, Agriculture, Interior and Local Government, and Budget and Management, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority and PhilHealth.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the panel will coordinate with the Transition Commission to make sure that development programs and projects of the government are fully implemented.

“The mandate of this task force is to develop and implement a communications strategy on the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program and monitor with the Transition Commission, and to submit regular reports to the Office of the President,” she said.

A portion of AO 37 reads: “The committee is empowered to develop and implement programs and projects to respond to the health, education, and livelihood needs of MILF priority beneficiaries, internally displaced persons, and poverty-stricken communities throughout Mindanao.”

This is in consonance with the framework agreement that the government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in October 2012, as the government intensifies development efforts for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development in Mindanao.

Aquino went to Camp Darapanan (formerly Camp Abubakar) last Feb. 11, a historic visit for a Philippine president in an MILF stronghold, and where soldiers and rebels played football while government officials distributed health cards for the poor.

The celebration of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program was “very festive” as both soldiers and MILF rebels – who were involved in decades of armed conflict – joined hands to celebrate the historic peace agreement between the two parties.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro is a socioeconomic initiative of the Office of the President in cooperation and in partnership with the MILF.

Sajahatra Bangsamoro, an Arabic-Melayu-Bahasa derivative that means Peace Bangsamoro, is the President’s concrete peace initiative and assistance for MILF communities.

World Bank (WB) representatives, on the other hand, said they were impressed with how a Moro community in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao is implementing a WB-assisted post-harvest facility.

WB portfolio manager Chiyo Kanda, who led a 10-member team that inspected various WB-funded projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) last week, said he was amazed with the bayanihan tradition displayed by residents of Barangay Galakit in Pagalungan in building a communal solar dryer and a warehouse designed to improve their productivity.

The project is being implemented under the ministerial control of the ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP), which is being assisted both by the WB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The ASFP project management office in Cotabato City operates under the supervision of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

The warehouse and solar dryer project is being implemented as a community initiative by Barangay Galakit People’s Organization, led by Moro community elders, religious and traditional leaders, and representatives from the local women sector.

Irene Fernandez, in charge of the ASFP’s press and communications activities, said Barangay Galakit has been receiving P1,063,903.50 assistance package in tranches to put up the post-harvest facility according to a community-designed work program.

“We came here to ask the community about their experiences in managing projects and to know what other assistance they need to increase their production, considering that they are family of farmers,” Kanda was quoted by ASFP officials as telling residents during his visit last week to Barangay Galakit.

Experts from WB have given a “satisfactory” rating for the past six years to the AFSP’s implementation of WB-assisted projects in all of the ARMM’s component areas – Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi. – With John Unson