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600 former MILF combatants to avail of EU-funded tech-voc program  

OPAPRU

A EUROPEAN Union-funded program on technical-vocational skills development will cover 600 ex-armed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as part of the transition of former rebel camps into productive communities.  

The two-year training project, with a P252-million grant from the European Union (EU), is under the Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE), according to the Bangsamoro regional government.  

PROACTIVE is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Bangsamoro region’s Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE).  

UNDP and the ministry signed the project agreement on Monday in Cotabato City.  

“The UNDP and MBHTE’s partnership primarily involve vocational skill development training and accreditation to pursue itself and richer environment for income source for the 600 decommissioned combatants,” UNDP Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran said during the signing ceremony.   

The training program, he said, will help in “creating enabling environment for sustainable employment and enterprise development.”  

“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.  

MBHTE Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal said the Bangsamoro government’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 (MILF). In terms of governance and peace, we journey together between the EU and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” said Mr. Iqbal, who also chairs the MILF Peace Implementing Panel.  

The decommissioning of MILF combatants is one of the key components of the peace process in the transitioning Bangsamoro region.  

In September last year, the third phase of the decommissioning was resumed, with a target of 14,000 MILF members. At that time, at least 7,200 have already been decommissioned, according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU).   

More than 19,345 MILF combatants have completed the process and 2,175 weapons have been permanently deactivated, based on OPAPRU data. — MSJ 

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