UN-World Bank-MILF launch 3-year program to prepare for Bangsamoro governance

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DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao  (MindaNews/29 April) – The United Nations and World Bank launched Monday in partnership with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) a three-year program that would provide on-demand technical assistance in the run-up to the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by June 30, 2016.

Launched at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC), will provide “on-demand advisory services and access to the most relevant national and international expertise to contribute and help move forward with the peace process especially in the drafting of the Basic Law that will reflect the Bangsamoro people’s aspirations for genuine autonomy while establishing the basis for efficient and accountable government,” UN Resident Director Luiza Carvalho said.

FASTRAC will begin operations next week, Carvalho told a press conference after the launch.

World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi , represented in the launching by Ousmane Dione, Sector Manager on Sustainable Development, said the UN and World Bank combined forces to provide access to national and international expertise in support of the transition, and support the Transition Commission (TransCom), the government (GPH) and MILF peace panels, civil society groups and others to promote an inclusive peace process.

Dione said FASTRAC will also provide the TransCom and other transitional institutions with resources to support “broad-based consultations and community outreach” to ensure that “the full range of voices in the Bangsamoro can be heard as the GPH and the MILF undertake the crucial, challenging and historic work that lies ahead to form the Bangsamoro.”

The establishment of FASTRAC came after a series of consultations with the MILF and the GPH by the two international agencies. On March 25, the UN and World Bank formally offered to the MILF in a letter dated March 25, the facility that would “primarily service the technical needs of the MILF, and where requested, the Government of the Philippines panel and Transition Commission and its technical working groups to avail of the best national and international expertise.”

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim accepted the offer in a letter dated April 5.

A ceremonial exchange of letters was made to launch FASTRAC.

EXCHANGE OF LETTERS. Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Luiza Carvalho, resident coordinator of United Nations and Ousmane Dione of World Bank in a ceremonial exchange of letters to launch the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC) on April 29, 2013 at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. Mindanews photo by Toto Lozano
EXCHANGE OF LETTERS. Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Luiza Carvalho, resident coordinator of United Nations and Ousmane Dione of World Bank in a ceremonial exchange of letters to launch the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC) on April 29, 2013 at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. Mindanews photo by Toto Lozano

“Exhilarating”

Murad said it was “exhilarating” to sit with officials of “two of the most iconic symbols of modern man’s quest for global peace and sustainable development.”

He spoke of how the two agencies had helped the Bangsamoro communities in the past, responding to “emergencies such as internal displacements, human rights violations, crops destruction” and working on poverty alleviation.

“Today I am extremely happy to sit here and I emphasize, to sit here not alone, but in partnership with you not only to respond to emergencies but more importantly to link and to fulfill together the visions for which our respective organizations had been founded: global peace for the UN; peace in our homeland for the MILF; reconstruction, sustainable development and poverty alleviation for the world bank , reconstruction and development and prosperity in our homeland for the MILF,” Murad said.

He said he expressed hope that the partnership will “hasten our quest for the successful conclusion of the peace process and help us transition smoothly into Bangsamoro.”

A mujahideen stands guard along the road leading to Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao in this photo taken on April 29, 2013. Camp Darapanan is the main camp of Moro Islamic Liberation Front.Mindanews photo by Toto Lozano
A mujahideen stands guard along the road leading to Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao in this photo taken on April 29, 2013. Camp Darapanan is the main camp of Moro Islamic Liberation Front.Mindanews photo by Toto Lozano

Self-determination

But Murad explained at the launch that while the “transition to Bangsamoro” requires partnership and assistance from the global community, these “must be founded on mutual respect and the recognition of the primacy of our assertion of our right to self determination.”

“The overriding principle must be translated into all our engagements and the mechanism for its implementation . While we seek global expertise and knowledge, we must take the lead in determining what we need and how we want these needs addressed and how these needs should be addressed, for certainly none is more knowledgeable of the challenges we face except ourselves and none is more critical in resolving these challenges than ourselves,” he said.

Murad stressed that part of their right to self determination “is the assertion on our part and the corresponding recognition from our partners that we need to own these interventions and the process. Inclusivity and ownership must come together,” adding that the Paris Principle or the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness is unequivocal on this concept of ownership. “And rightly so, for no intervention can be effective without the recipient owning it and taking initiative and leading the process.”

P287-M for technical assistance

According to the FASTRAC’s press statement, budget for the three-year project is approximately USD 7 million (around PhP 287 million) which will be initially financed through the UN Peace-Building Fund and the World Bank State and Peace Building Fund. Development partners will also be invited to contribute funds and expertise.

A Consultative Committee headed by the Transition Commission (TransCom) chair will provide overall guidance to the Cotabato City-based FASTRAC but day to day management will be under an Executive Director who has yet to be named.

The government will be represented in the Consultative Committee by a member of the government peace panel or the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Using a spade, children dig a hole for their planting material inside a farm in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao on April 29, 2013.
Using a spade, children dig a hole for their planting material inside a farm in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao on April 29, 2013.  MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The TransCom is a 15-member body tasked principally to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It is composed of eight members from the MILF and seven from the GPH and is headed by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

It held its first meeting on April 3 in Pasig City and will meet again on Tuesday and Wednesday (April 30 and May 1) in Cotabato City, where it will be based.

The TransCom will have Prof. Yash Ghai, chair of the Fiji Constitution Commission, as speaker on April 30.

On May 1, the TransCom will finish crafting its internal rules, Iqbal told MindaNews.

The GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The panels agreed then to finish the four annexes – wealth-sharing, power-sharing, normalization and transitional arrangements and modalities — by yearend 2012.

Only the transition annex has been completed. It was signed in February. The three other annexes have yet to be finalized.

The panels will resume talks after the May 13 elections. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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