600 Decommissioned MILF Combatants to Undergo EU’s US$4.6-M Technical Skills Project

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COTABATO CITY — A total of 600 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) decommissioned combatants are set to undergo technical-vocational training under the European Union’s (EU) Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE).

This development came following the ceremonial signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) headed by Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal and the United Nations Developmnent Program (UNDP) here on Monday, January 16.

The project’s objective includes enhancing local capacities to facilitate the transition and transformation of the six major declared camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran said the EU’s generous support to the Philippines, amounting to US$4.6 million which is a two-year project, will contribute to “creating enabling environment for sustainable employment and enterprise development, delivered initial peace dividends and promoting confidence-building, through improved access to basic communal services and facilities.”

UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran and MBHTE Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal hold the agreement they signed for a US$4.6-million tech-voc skills training for decommissioned MILF fighters. At right photo are some of the tools to be used in the skills training of the MILF members. 

Ramachandran said this project will facilitate “social cohesion and community resilience” strengthened through enhancing capacities and participation of local stakeholders, including women, youth, and faith-based leaders in peacebuilding, promoting a culture of peace, and conflict transformation.

“The UNDP and MBHTE’s partnership primarily involves vocational skills development training and accreditation to pursue itself and richer environment for income source for the 600 decommissioned combatants,” he added.

Meanwhile, Iqbal, who is also a Member of Parliament (MP) of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), said the Government of the Day’s engagement with the EU has been “very productive”.

“We hope this partnership will continue until the exit agreement is signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In terms of governance and peace, we journey together with the EU and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” Iqbal, who also chairs the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, said.

Iqbal stressed that the international community, especially the EU, has been a steady partner in the search for elusive peace in Mindanao.

“The participation and role of the EU are very crucial and one of the highlights of this engagement is the decommissioning of combatants of the MILF. We are very happy one of the interventions of the EU is the skills training for the decommissioned MILF combatants,” he added.

Present during the ceremonial signing were EU Ambassador Luc Véron; Christoph Wagner, head of EU delegation; MP Ali Salik, co-chair of JTFCT-MILF; MP Eng’r. Aida Silongan, co-chair of Task Force DCC-MILF, and Sakura Moretto, Programme Manager, EU delegation, among others. (Majid Nur/BIO) — Source: bangsamoro.gov.ph (/)

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