BLMI Compound, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao
11 February 2013

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program in a MILF stronghold in Maguindanao as a testament to the trust and confidence being shared by both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The socio-economic initiative which means “Peace Bangsamoro” aims to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of the MILF communities.  As part of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed in October last year, “parties agree to intensify development efforts for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development of the Bangsamoro, and institute programs to address the needs of MILF combatants, internally displaced persons, and poverty-stricken communities,” and Sajahatra Bangsamoro is a clear manifestation of this provision.

In his speech, the President said that the goal of government is “to accelerate the transition of MILF communities steeped in armed struggle to a productive citizenry that buys into the national agenda, and contributes to a shared goal of equitable progress. When once they treated themselves with herbs from the jungle, soon they will have health insurance, and will be cared for by trained doctors and nurses in state- funded health centers. When once children were taught merely the histories of suffering inside their madaris, soon they will also learn that peace can triumph so long as we open our hearts and allow ourselves to trust our fellowmen. And once they felt oppressed under the cloud of conflict, soon they will feel empowered, illumined by the daylight of peace,” President Aquino stated.

Various government agencies such as the DSWD, DOH, DA, PhilHealth, DepEd, CHED and TESDA will participate in the program to be carried out in different Bangsamoro areas for a duration of one year. And with the implementation through an inter-agency mechanism and continuous partnership with the MILF, both sides believe that it will further strengthen the collaboration between the Government and the MILF towards a long lasting peace and development that will benefit not just the Bangsamoro people but the entire nation as well.

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