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Bangsamoro trust fund will be substantial—Leonen

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 03:57 AM November 20, 2012

Marvic Leonen. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippine government will invest a “substantial amount” in the proposed trust fund to be set up under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro to sustain peace and development in communities affected by the decades-long conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said.

“Government is willing to invest as much of the resources that is necessary to make this work. This is not a project where the government will raise funds. Government will allocate funds to make this happen,” Leonen told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “(The peace accord) is a legacy of this administration that’s why a reasonable amount necessary to make the peace viable will be invested by government.”

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Leonen said the government had set aside a substantial amount as a peace dividend for the Bangsamoro, recognizing that “there is a need to stabilize the situation by providing for livelihood for  people on the ground, not only for the fighters of the MILF, but also for the community.”

Contrary to what was reported by the Inquirer on Monday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal did not tell this reporter that the trust fund was among the unresolved issues in the annex on normalization.

Iqbal had only stressed the need to define and set up the mechanics of the trust fund because the “first part of normalization is economic action on the ground so that people, our combatants, would feel that there is a peace dividend after the signing of the Framework Agreement.”

The proposed trust fund is given importance every time the government and MILF panels meet because of the much-needed socioeconomic rehabilitation of the people affected by the long conflict, both combatants and noncombatants.

Importance of fund Leonen explained the importance of the trust fund as such:

“The results of armed conflict are extreme poverty. It’s not only a result of the armed conflict. It is also a condition that gave rise to the armed conflict. Now there seems to be an accepted political solution (which) cannot happen overnight. It will have to happen in a matter of four years or more.”

“While that is happening, people cannot wait. Under conditions of extreme poverty, there is a need to stabilize the situation by providing for livelihood to people on the ground, not only to the fighters of the MILF, but also to the community. That is what they call dividends of peace,” Leonen said.

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Leonen said with the “silencing of the guns that is more or less permanent and a political agreement between the two groups, now is the time to actually look at the people that have been affected.”

Leonen said the MILF negotiators had told the government panel that the MILF was not interested in “holding the cash” from the trust fund.

“What they (MILF) want is to be able to participate in the process of delivery of projects that are accountable to the communities and the public at large. They want to make sure the projects will reach the communities. That’s what sets them (MILF) apart. That’s the goodwill (from the MILF) that I’ve been saying. That is a signal of their sincerity,” Leonen said.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Government, MILF, Mindanao, peace process
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