Government set to launch 'Sajahatra Bangsamoro'-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
THE government is set to launch a socio-economic initiative dubbed "Sajahatra Bangsamoro" aimed at uplifting the health, education and livelihood conditions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) communities, a Palace official said Wednesday.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the program is in line with President Benigno Aquino III's instructions to provide immediate socio-economic interventions for the MILF communities.
"Sajahatra Bangsamoro, an Arabic-Melayu-Bahasa derivative which means 'Peace Bangsamoro,' is the President’s concrete peace initiative and assistance for the MILF communities," Almendras said at the press briefing in Malacañang.
He noted that the program signifies the partnership between the government and the MILF in working towards peace and development of the Bangsamoro communities as well as the entire country.
The National Government will take the lead in the ceremonial launch of the program to be held at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute compound in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.
Almendras said foreign dignitaries will be present during the event and all those involved in the peace process including MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim. Also invited to grace the event are Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar Tengku bin Mohammed and Malaysian head of the secretariat Che Khasna.
Among the services that the government will provide include health insurance by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth); upgrading of community-based health services by the Department of Health (DOH); provision of college scholarships and technical-vocational training by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), respectively; educational assistance to madaris (Islamic schools) and private schools by the Department of Education, needs assessment of selected Bangsamoro communities; Cash for Work Program, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others.
Almendras said there will be some 300 members of the MILF, who already went back to the folds, will be invited in the medical missions.
He said the event aims to make the former rebels feel the services of the national government.
The indigenous peoples and Christians are also encouraged to avail of the free health services.
The Office of the President, through the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, will oversee the implementation of the program. An inter-agency technical working group has been convened by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary to ensure the effective implementation of the program.
After the launching ceremonies, a caravan will visit selected Bangsamoro communities to provide the services for the beneficiaries.
"Sajahatra Bangsamoro will be rolled-out in partnership with the MILF leadership in the spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro," he said.
The Framework Agreement indicated that the "parties agreed to intensify development efforts for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the Bangsamoro, and institute programs to address the needs of the MILF combatants, internally displaced persons and poverty-stricken communities, Almendras noted.
Mike Pasigan, MILF spokesperson for the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program, said the MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal has affirmed the partnership of the parties for the success of the program.
"Both parties have been working together in identifying and designing the projects that will address the immediate needs of the Bangsamoro communities," Pasigan said.
"The program will further strengthen the collaboration between the government and the MILF as we build on the gains of the peace process. We believe that the Sajahatra Bangsamoro is a step towards long-term development that will benefit not only the Bangsamoro people but all Filipinos," he said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)