REBELS in at least six Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) communities in Maguindanao received a total of P26 million worth of agricultural assistance from the government.
The assistance was part of the Camp Transpormation Program of the Department of Agriculture, said Sec. Proceso Alcala during a press conference in Cotabato City. The program is aimed at transforming MILF camps into “peaceful and productive communities.”
Senen Bacani, former Agriculture Secretary and member of the government peace panel in the southern peace talks, said the initiative is part of the normalization process stipulated under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the MILF and the Philippine government in March 2015.
The farmer beneficiaries comprise 145 combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) decommissioned in June 2015.
The Annex on Normalization of the CAB indicates that socio-economic programs will be provided and that such programs will be undertaken for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the decommissioned members of the BIAF and their communities and the transformation of the six MILF camps identified by the peace panel.
The camp transformation program is an initial confidence-building measure under the Bangsamoro peace process with the end in view of turning the camps into peaceful and productive areas.
The farming equipment and implements turned over include six heavy-duty farm tractors with complete accessories; six units cassava grater; six units corn sheller and six units of hand tractor. Also distributed to the beneficiaries are 1,200 bags of palay seeds; 1,200 bags of palay fertilizers; 1,200 bags of corn seeds and 1,200 bags of corn fertilizers.
The other planting materials include 1,300 seedlings of rambutan, lanzones, jackfruit, coffee, achuete and guyabano. Eighteen carabaos were also provided for a livestock dispersal project.
The five of the six MILF camps –Abubakar, Omar, Badre, Rajamuda and Bushra – are located in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, two of the five component provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Camp Bilal, the sixth camp is located in Lanao del Norte, which falls under Region 10, or Northern Mindanao.
More than 1,000 participants witnessed the ceremonial turnover including MILF members and local chief executives. It was led by Agriculture Secretary Alcala; peace panel member Bacani, DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna, national focal person for Camp Transformation Program; Alexander Alonto, ARMM’s Agriculture and Fisheries secretary; and Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 regional executive director.
Sec. Alcala said since 2011, 30% of DA’s total budget was allocated to Mindanao. | With reports from Bureau of Public Information-ARMM