January 24, 2022. The role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in achieving peace in the Bangsamoro Region is indeed evident and commendable. In a message during the Project Launch of the Enhancing CSO Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM (SUBATRA-ECSO) on September 30, 2021 via zoom, Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, interim chief minister of BARMM recognized the important role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in advancing the peace process and in achieving peace and development in Bangsamoro Region.
“CSOs have played an important role in the Bangsamoro peace process. The CSOs were vital in the eventual passage of the legislation calling for the extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Period. That alone speaks highly of CSOs power and capacity to make lasting social change”, Chief Minister Ebrahim said.
With this confidence, the SUBATRA-ECSO project has been launched and currently operating with various Bangsamoro CSOs working together to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro.
The project is being led by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and a duly registered non-government organization way back in 2019.
For the SUBATRA-ECSO, BDA Inc. will lead various CSOs in the Bangsamoro based on their experience and field of expertise related to peacebuilding for the project implementation. These CSOs will help in implementing projects that shall respond to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the region.
The League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) is tapped for the objective on raising awareness about BARMM projects and the rights and obligations of its people. The all-women organization named Ittihadun-Nisa Foundation, Inc. (INFo) is helping the project specifically on interventions targeting women and children.
Particular assistance for the indigenous people in BARMM will be carried out together with the Rajah Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc. (RMDSP). The Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc. (KDSAi) is being collaborated for the management of Alternative Learning System (ALS) in camp communities.
The Busikong Greenland Multipurpose Cooperative will help to provide significant guidance on sustainable agriculture. The Moropreneur Inc. (TMI) committed to support the project on the matter of social enterprise development, marketing, among others.
CSOs in the island province of Bangsamoro are also being collaborated for the project. Tagah Youth Concern Association is tapped for their capacity and experience on organizing and establishing youth who are among the target groups identified for this project. The Kabalikat Civicom will help on risk management trainings, especially in the islands.
All these CSOs will also undergo different capacity building and enhancement trainings like project management, conflict-sensitive planning and programming, financial, administrative and procurement management, among others.
It is anticipated that the collaboration of the BDA Inc. with these CSOs is a journey of learning and growing together, to further intensify the power and capacity of these organizations all working with common aspirations for the Bangsamoro.
It is noted that BDA Inc. has already signed a Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) with four of the eight CSOs namely LBO, INFO, KDSAI and RMDSP on December 27, 2021. Similar agreement will also be inked with the other four CSOs in the next coming days.
BDA Inc. also had a planning workshop with the LBO, INFO, KDSAI and RMDSP to firm up activity schedules, which are already happening, as of this writing.
For the BDA Inc. as lead organization, engaging the CSO in the development process of BARMM during the transition period shall expand their base of support especially when CSO-based initiatives to reinforce normalization are given priorities.
Further, the BDA Inc. believes that through CSOs, adopting social policies that promote income generation and sustainability will not only attempt to reduce poverty but will also encourage the groups to achieve self-help practices for permanent stability.
The SUBATRA-ECSO project is funded by the European Union (#EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (#AECID). It is a project component under the Justice and Society of the whole SUBATRA Program that helps BARMM lay the foundation for lasting peace and development in the region by strengthening the capacities of its institutions to establish an enabling democratic governance environment during the transition period.