DAVAO CITY – Representatives from the base commands of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF/MILF), development partners, and representatives of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) joined the Embassy of Australia, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in launching the Bangsamoro School of Peace and Democracy (SPD)—a virtual academy developed to equip the MILF and other Moro combatants with necessary tools and skills for their transition to civilian roles and leadership positions in the new government.
Established to support MILF during its post-conflict transition, the SPD focuses on two key areas—building the governance and administration capabilities of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) under the vision of moral governance, and guiding the former combatants as they transition to civilian life.
The SPD initiative, implemented under the Stabilization, Recovery and Transformation for Peace (START-PEACE) Project by the UNDP with support from the Australian Government, is a key factor to Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim’s vision for a Bangsamoro built on moral governance.
“From day 1, we have made moral governance as our foundation in leading the Bangsamoro government. Still, the past year has been quite a challenge for the Bangsamoro government and for the region as a whole. The task ahead is even greater. Efforts to establish an appropriate bureaucracy for the Bangsamoro government continues. There is no doubt that the Bangsamoro School of Peace and Democracy could contribute to our effort in governing and laying down the foundation for the Bangsamoro Autonomous region by capacitating our leaders both inside and outside bureaucracy,” noted the BARMM Interim Chief Minister and the Chair of the MILF in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary Atty. Aying Asis on his behalf.
Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO reiterated that “Australia is a longstanding supporter of peace in Mindanao. This school will help ensure that the gains of the past few years are translated into long-lasting stability, through good governance and an engaged population. I’m proud that we have been able to support the Bangsamoro School for Peace and Democracy through our broader support to UNDP’s work in Mindanao.”
The SPD curriculum for the cabinet and the former combatants has been developed by a consortium comprised of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, Bangsamoro Development Agency, Development Academy of the Bangsamoro, Asian Institute of Management, the Development Academy of the Philippines, Local Government Academy of the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Galing Pook, with the technical oversight of the UNDP in the Philippines. While virtual, the curriculum will be institutionalized as a program within the newly-formed Development Academy of Bangsamoro.
At the launch, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Titon Mitra highlighted the importance of capacity building in post-conflict transitions by noting that “short-term wins through quick peace dividends have to be backed by a long-term vision and commitment to a people-centered government.” (United Nations Development Programme)