Manila: A local government and a nongovernment agency began a joint-project to bring children of Filipino-Muslim rebels back to schools, so that they will become professionals and peace advocates in the autonomous region of Filipino-Muslims in the southern Philippines, sources said.
A Germany-based nongovernment organisation is funding the project.
Benedicto Bacani, executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) has forged a joint project in Maguindanao, entitled, “Promoting political climate and stability for peace in the Bangsamoro,” to prepare Filipino-Muslims for peace and governance, which are the main aims of the pro-autonomy peace settlement forged by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, told Gulf News.
“AIG and the local government of Maguindanao will fund the college education of 4,000 students who are children of the fighters of the 37-year old MILF, and the 47-year old Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which had forged pro-autonomy peace settlements with the government earlier in Tripoli in 1976 and in Manila in 1996,” said Mangudadatu, adding the joint project will benefit Maguindanao’s 36 towns which are mostly MILF-controlled areas.
”The project will include students whose parents belong to several renegade Filipino-Muslim rebel groups, to make them professionals and peace advocates,” explained Mangudadatu.
“It is important for local leaders in the existing and expanded autonomous area for Filipino-Muslims to master concepts of viable autonomy and efficient governance now, ahead of a Congressional approval of the implementation of the Philippine government-MILF agreement,” said Bacani.
IAG is a partner of Germany-based Konrad Adenauer Stiftung which has been funding projects to transform Muslim-dominated villages in the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as areas of peace and development, said Mangudadatu.
ARMM, a 26,974 square kilometre territory composed of provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi Tawi; and city of Marawi, was created by referendum for autonomy in 1989 and 2001 (based on a Philippine law). Its capital, Cotabato City, is not part of ARMM.
The Philippine government and the MILF agreed last year to expand ARMM with six more towns and 600 more Muslim-dominated villages based on residents’ vote to be with ARMM in 2001. Congress needs to approve a third referendum, and ARMM’s new name, Bangsamoro as proposed by the government-MILF settlement.
Other NGOs extending assistance to Filipino-Muslims in the south are Centre for Islam and Democracy (PCID), the Local Government Development Foundation, and the Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance.
© Gulf News
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