September 6, 2022. In Bangsamoro Region, the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in peacebuilding is highly recognized and is evident by the visible actions of these organizations at the grassroots level, urban areas, published at the local media, online and offline.
In a message during the Project Launch of the 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 the Bangsamoro Government currently on its extended transition period, various Bangsamoro CSOs remain committed to support and contribute to the peaceful transition in the region. In September 2021, the project Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Intervention in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA-ECSO) kicked off with the intention to strengthen the efforts of these CSOs to help with the on-going evolution in the region long been affected by years of conflict and uncertainties.
Different CSOs operating the Bangsamoro joined hands and agreed to deliver the services needed by the vulnerable sectors in the communities of BARMM. The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) established in 2002 that emerged as non-government organization in 2019, is the leading organization for the SUBATRA-ECSO. For the project, BDA Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) with the following CSOs. The collaboration with each CSO is based on their field of expertise and experience through the years.
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 is being carried out together with the Rajah Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc. (RMDSP). The Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc. (KDSAi) is partnered for the management of Alternative Learning System (ALS) in camp communities.
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.
Support to Bangsamoro CSOs
For the SUBATRA-ECSO Project, BDA Inc. is facilitating various activities that are all geared to help enhance the capacities of the various Bangsamoro CSOs to become more efficient and be able to contribute to peaceful transition in the BARMM.
Together, numerous activities were already conducted during the first year of the project namely, project management and planning, data gathering and consolidation, module development writeshop on human rights, communication skills training and planning workshop, and training of trainers on human rights.
From these trainings, partners CSOs expressed gratitude for the learned knowledge and skills that they can apply as they perform their respective duties in their organizations.
Working together for SUBATRA-ECSO
The project is about to complete its first year of implementation, from September 2021 to September 2022. Looking back, BDA Inc. has documented major accomplishments for the Year 1 of the project as enumerated below:
- Profiled vulnerable sectors at the community level for provision of services
- Oriented indigenous people (IP) groups on the significance of backyard gardening for sustainable living
- Organized and trained Community Human Rights Advocates across BARMM
- Organized BDRRM Team at the target community across BARMM
- Developed training manual on basic human rights in Bangsamoro
- Established coordination and communication with BARMM ministries/ offices/ agencies and with the Bangsamoro CSOs
- Linked with BARMM’s Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) and Bangsamoro League of Information Officers (BLIO)
- Formulated the communication plan dubbed as “Para Sa’Yo Bangsamoro” with the objective to help restore the trust, confidence and faith, so that support to peace and development is sustained
- Developed a digital application dubbed as CM-ACTS or Community Monitoring and Actionable Concerns Tracking System for the community-feedback mechanism in BARMM to help connect the Bangsamoro Government to its people.
- Helped disseminate information about BARMM programs and services thru social media and radio program
- Coordinated with the Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) for understanding and support of the project
- Formulated the common monitoring framework for projects on Normalization in 6 MILF major camps
- Coordinated MBHTE and BALS for the Alternative Learning System and Skills development for transitioning combatants. MOA yet to be signed.
- Planning, project management and development, values transformation, data collection and consolidation, Community Enterprise Planning Technique, writeshop on basic Human Rights manual, communication skills and planning, training of trainers on basic human rights, others
During the Year 1, BDA Inc. has been with the RMDSP, collaboratively reaching the IP communities for determining their priority needs, promoting backyard gardening, social enterprise development, others. INFO with the Social Welfare Committed (SWC) of the MILF has helped the project during the meeting with women sectors across BARMM. LBO is working with the BDA Inc. for reaching the communities in Maguindanao, SGA-BARMM, Lanao del Sur and Tawi-Tawi. KABALIKAT Civicom has been accompanying the project during activities in the communities of Sulu. Taga Youth is a partner for interventions in the villages of Basilan.
Peacebuilding in Bangsamoro
Speaking of peace in the Bangsamoro requires one to understand the history of the Bangsamoro struggle that have caused the protracted conflict in the region through the years. The call of the Moro’s for the right to self-determination rooted from the historical injustice committed to their ancestors since the 1970s. The foundation of notable revolutionary groups all asserting for the right to self- determination first the MNL, then the MILF manifested the strong determination of the Bangsamoro to achieve a type of a government that is responsive to the ideals and way of life of the Moros. While the rest is history, the peacebuilding efforts in Bangsamoro has been pushed by various actors and stakeholders that has already gained the attention and support of the international communities.
With the Bangsamoro Government already working, these efforts shall be sustained and further strengthened because peace does not end here. The BDA Inc., with the CSOs long been running before the establishment of BARMM is more committed to support the current transition in the Bangsamoro. It is the fact, that peacebuilding is not a government responsibility alone, it requires everyone’s cooperation and support.
The implementation of various development projects must be sustained to complement the BARMM as it undergoes transition until it fully operates as one whole government with well-established policies and laws. By working with the CSOs, the thrust on peacebuilding becomes more collaborative and inclusive, which shall contribute in achieving peaceful transition in the Bangsamoro.