A TOTAL of 600 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) decommissioned combatants are set to undergo technical-vocational training under the European Union's (EU) Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (Proactive).

This developed following the ceremonial signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MBHTE-Barmm)) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ceremonially signed an agreement on Monday, January 16, in Cotabato City for the implementation of the project.

The project's objective includes enhancing local capacities to facilitate the transition and transformation of the six major declared camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

Dr. Selva Ramachandran, UNDP resident representative, said the EU's generous support to the Philippines, amounting to US$4.6 million and which is a two-year project, will contribute to "creating enabling environment for sustainable employment and enterprise development, delivered initial peace dividends and promoting confidence-building, through improved access to basic communal services and facilities."

Ramachandran said this project will facilitate "social cohesion and community resilience" strengthened through enhancing capacities and participation of local stakeholders, including women, youth, and faith-based leaders in peacebuilding, promoting a culture of peace, and conflict transformation.

"The UNDP and MBHTE's partnership primarily involves vocational skill development training and accreditation to pursue itself and richer environment for income source for the 600 decommissioned combatants," he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Mohagher Iqbal of MBHTE-Barmm said the Government of the Day's engagement with the EU has been “very productive.”

"We hope this partnership will continue until the exit agreement is signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In terms of governance and peace, we journey together between the EU and Barmm," Iqbal said.

Iqbal, who is also a Member of Parliament (MP), said the international community, especially the EU, has been a steady partner in the search for the elusive peace in Mindanao.

"The participation and role of the EU are very crucial and one of the highlights of this engagement is the decommissioning of combatants of the MILF. We are very happy one of the interventions of the EU is the skills training for the decommissioned MILF combatants," he added. (SunStar Zamboanga)