MSU-Maguindanao forges partnerships with GPH-PIP, OPAPRU through JTFCT, and UNDP

#MSUMagAt50 | The Ceremonial Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Government of the Philippines-Peace Implementing Panel (GPH-PIP), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) through the Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation (JTFCT), and MSU-Maguindanao with the United Nations Development Programme-Philippines for the Implementation of a Science and Technology-Based Climate-Smart Agricultural Project in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Camps was formally signed at the Training Center Hall A, MSU-Maguindanao.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MSU-Maguindanao and Government of the Philippines Peace Implementing Panel aims to focus on providing support and technical assistance for the implementation of a Science-and-Technology-Based and Climate-Smart Agricultural Project in specific MILF Camps, with the initial pilot in Brgy. Tugaig, Barira, Maguindanao del Norte. In addition, the MoU recognizes that any initiatives and interventions initiated by MSU-Maguindanao will contribute to the normalization program, specifically in transforming the six acknowledged MILF Camps. This partnership aims to engage academic institutions in Camps Transformation Programs, aligning with the Government of the Philippines’ Normalization Program in the Bangsamoro. The overall goal is to promote greater and sustained involvement from key institutions in the transformation of MILF camps, as outlined in the Camps Transformation Plan.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mindanao State University – Maguindanao pertains to enhancing development efforts, particularly by integrating climate resilience into conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It also seeks to support the establishment of sustainable and climate-smart farming systems for vegetable and fish production, with a specific focus on Camp Abubakar. Furthermore, it emphasizes the continuation of cooperation in peacebuilding, community resilience, and climate security. This provides a comprehensive framework for cooperation, outlining roles, responsibilities, and addressing various administrative matters such as the use of names and emblems, termination, renewal, and amendments.

Presidential Assistant Cesar B. Yano, Chairperson of the Government Peace Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Process, expressed solidarity with Mindanao State University-Maguindanao on its 50th Founding Anniversary. He highlighted the significant partnership between the university and the United Nations Development Program in their joint pursuit of sustainable development in Mindanao, particularly within the framework of Bangsamoro’s comprehensive agreement. Yano also acknowledged the support of MSU System President Atty. Basari D. Mapupuno and their collaborative efforts in advancing the transformation of Bangsamoro communities. The ceremony marked a milestone in their partnership, focusing on initiatives in academia. The Agricultural projects, tailored for climate adaptability, will enhance the livelihoods and food security of MILF communities in conflict-affected areas. Yano stressed the commitment to implementing the comprehensive agreement for Bangsamoro, emphasizing the vital role of partners like MSU-Maguindanao and the United Nations Development Program in fulfilling their agreements with the MILF. Camp Abubakar serves as the project’s focal point, with a vision for its continuation and development.

Asec. Cesar D. De Mesa, Executive Director for Bangsamoro Transformation and JTFCT Co-Chair of the GPH-PIP OPAPRU, expressed his joy at the unity and collaboration with MSU-Maguindanao. He began by extending his gratitude to GPIP Chair Yano, acknowledging their meeting during a visit to MSU-Marawi, which revealed the potential for a strong partnership between Camp Transformation and MSU. De Mesa noted that the JTFCT initiated the plan in 2019, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. He stated that the focus is on prioritizing projects to transform conflict areas into productive communities and emphasized the importance of the peace process and partnership with MSU-Maguindanao for contributions to programs and projects.

MSU-Maguindanao Chancellor Dr. Bai Hejira Nefertiti M. Limbona discussed the university’s participation in the Transformation Plan for Camp Abubakar, highlighting the need to address moral issues and collaborate with one another for the transformation efforts. She emphasized the subjective nature of peace, drawing from her personal experiences and educational journey. Dr. Limbona described MSU-Maguindanao’s role as an autonomous campus within the MSU system, with a focus on integrating cultural communities into mainstream society. The institution, after 50 years, remains dedicated to providing opportunities, especially for former combatants, through education and job opportunities. Their research and outreach efforts target minority communities to bring about positive change and opportunities for the next generation.

Mr. Mohaimen Usman, the Head of JTFCT-MILF Secretariat representing Hon. MP Bai Intan Ampatuan, expressed appreciation at the long-awaited development. Their journey began within the MILF, searching for individuals to assist with transformation. They recognized the challenges, especially in education and knowledge and acknowledged the need for patience as they worked with various partners, including universities and agencies, to bring about development. They hoped this marked the starting point for Camp Abubakar’s transformation, indicating the importance of knowledge over infrastructure. Usman thanked everyone for their contributions, expressing the hope that this initiative was the beginning of their dream for transformation.

Engr. Nelson Peloton Jr., the Proactive Project Manager of UNDP, emphasized UNDP’s consistent dedication to supporting peace processes, extending its involvement to encompass governance and climate action initiatives. The partnership with Mindanao State University-Maguindanao stemmed from UNDP’s expertise in its Climate Action Program, supported by the European Union, focusing on camp transformation, inclusive violence reduction, and economic empowerment. UNDP welcomed MSU-Maguindanao’s proposal to share expertise and address community extension concerns, committing to realizing the project with core components targeted for completion by December, alongside the development of training modules in the early part of the following year. UNDP is also dedicated to working on peace mechanisms, particularly with JTFCT, and securing funding from development partners and donors to extend the project to other camps, ensuring a continuation of the partnership.

Dr. Badrudin K. Abdul, who has a background as a former revolutionary combatant within the MILF, delivered a testimonial, recounting his personal journey of transformation and growth. He shared insights into the challenges he overcame and the positive changes he experienced. In addition, Ms. Rhejam T. Omar, a student affiliated with the MILF and currently pursuing her education at MSU-Maguindanao, offered her own compelling testimonial. She spoke passionately about her educational journey within the university, emphasizing her achievements and the significant impact it has had on her life, thus highlighting the role of education in personal and community development.

Present during the ceremonial signing were MGen. Ariel Francisco Felicidario (Ret), the GPH Consultant for Socioeconomic Development; Dir. Farrah Grace V. Naparan, the Head of the Secretariat of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel; Ms. Ranee Sinsuat, the Head of the Joint Task Forces On Camps Transformation Secretariat; from the United Nations Development Programme, Mr. Winston Aylmer CamariƱas, the Head Of UNDP Cotabato Field Office; Ms. Aimae Molina, the Proactive Project M&E; Mr. Chinot Adao, the Proactive Project Analyst; Deputy Minister Abdulkudos Balitok, Deputy Minister of the Ministry Of Public Order And Safety (MPOS) and JTFCT Chairperson and Camp Coordinator of Camp Abubakar; Lt. Col. Eduard C Olaso Pn (M)(GSC), representing Bgen Eric Macaambac; Admin. Mohaimen Usman, the Head of JTFCT-MILF Secretariat, representing MP Ali O. Salik; the OPAPRU Advanced Team; MSU-Maguindanao officials; and some faculty members and staff.