Aquino creates task force on Moro dev’tBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
After launching a socio-economic program for Moro rebels, President Aquino has created a body to carry out this program on the ground in rebel communities in Mindanao.
The President designated Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras as chairman of the Task Force on Bangsamoro Development, and 15 members of the Cabinet as members to ensure that development projects were implemented on the ground.
The President created the task force on Feb. 13, two days after he handed out health insurance cards and certificates of scholarships and livelihood training to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Sultan Kudarat at the launch of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program.
“It’s more of institutionalizing the framework [agreement] that is necessary to monitor the development also of the ‘Sajahatra Bangsamoro’ program,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, explained in a briefing.
Through this program, the government seeks to provide for the health, education and livelihood needs of the 12,000-strong rebel group in their communities within the next 18 months.
Craft and implement programs
The government and the rebel group were now threshing out the annexes of an October 2012 preliminary peace agreement preparatory to the final signing of a comprehensive agreement by March that would set up a Bangsamoro territory with more powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The task force’s main job is to craft and implement health, educational and livelihood programs for MILF beneficiaries, internally displaced persons and poor communities in Mindanao.
“For this purpose, the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program shall be implemented as the government’s initial support for identified MILF combatants and families, and other affected persons and communities,” the President said in the administrative order, which was released Tuesday.
The President said the body would coordinate with the Transition Commission, whose members are expected to be named anytime, the implementation of the projects, as well as craft a communication strategy on the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program.
Members of the task force
The members of the task force are the presidential adviser on the peace process; secretaries of the departments of social welfare, labor, health, education, agriculture, local government and budget; heads of the Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and Office of the Presidential Spokesperson; chairpersons of the Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; and president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The President has authorized the officials to charge funding against their departments’ budgets, and said that any additional funds may be sourced from his social and contingent funds.