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Nancy Binay seeks probe of Aquino dole-out to MILF

/ 06:16 PM March 31, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate should look into the reported concerns raised against the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program, a joint undertaking of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aimed at improving the health, education, and living conditions of Bangsamoro communities, Senator Nancy Binay said on Tuesday.

Binay recently filed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the program, and cited reports claiming that President Aquino’s peace adviser Teresita Deles has been implementing the supposedly “secretive” program for MILF members and supporters allegedly without the knowledge of and coordination with local governments.

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Binay also said the program was not supposed to be exclusive to the MILF members and was supposed to be open to all, including Christians, Muslims, and Lumad in the covered areas, but the list of areas covered and the list of beneficiaries would come from the MILF.

Given these information, the program should be given a deeper look, she said.

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“The uncoordinated efforts of various government agencies in implementing the Program without the knowledge of local government units as well as the counter-productive identification of coverage and beneficiaries of the Program with the end view of providing various public services warrants an investigation in aid of legislation to ensure social protection,” she said.

She added that the probe should be conducted by the committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development, which she happens to chair.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program was launched four months after the government and the MILF signed in 2014 the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a deal envisioned to bring peace to conflict-ridden areas in Mindanao.

The program has been designed to focus on quick-gestation, high-impact, social protection-type programs.

Services provided consist of health insurance through PhilHealth, upgrading of community-based services through the Department of Health, scholarships through the Commission on Higher Education, educational assistance through the Department of Education, a cash for work program and supplemental feeding program through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and technical-vocational training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The peace talks between the government and the MILF have been imperiled because of the recent clash between the government’s Special Action Forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, following a police operation to arrest terror suspects.

The clash has endangered support for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would create a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, as agreed upon in the comprehensive agreement. SFM/AC

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, Benigno Aquino III, congressional hearing, covert operations, legislative hearing, Mamasapano debacle, Mamasapano massacre, Mamasapano mission, Massacre, massacre of policemen, Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Nancy Binay, News, peace process, Philippine Congress, Philippine Government, Philippine National Police, Philippine president, Sajatra Bangsamoro Program, Senate, social welfare program, Special Action Force, Teresita Deles
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