Basilan to pilot Localized implementation of Normalization Program

Basilan to pilot Localized implementation of Normalization Program

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the Provincial Government of Basilan inked an agreement on Friday, January 26, wherein the latter will take the lead in the implementation of the Normalization Program in the province.

The Normalization Program is a key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which aims to transform former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants into peaceful and productive civilians and their areas into progressive and resilient communities.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., and Basilan Governor Hajiman Salliman Hataman led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement at the Eisenhower Hall inside the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) Headquarters.

A collective commitment 

"The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity and the provincial local government of Basilan to roll out the Localizing Normalization Implementation or LNI, is a testament of our collective commitment in moving forward and sustaining the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process," Galvez said in his remarks during the ceremony. 

"I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Hadjiman Hataman Salliman and other local officials of the province for fully supporting the pilot implementation of the LNI in Basilan. It is our hope that your province will serve as an example for other PLGUs to emulate," he emphasized.

"Indeed, the increased collaboration and complementation among all sectors of the community, under the leadership of the provincial government, will ensure the successful implementation  of the LNI here in the province," Galvez noted.

"As members of our community, we must join forces and work hand-in-hand to ensure the smooth and effective delivery of programs and projects that aim to address the different aspects of the Normalization Program which include security, socio economic development, confidence-building, and transitional justice, as well as political participation," Galvez stressed.

Locally-driven but holistic approach

The LNI intends to establish an efficient management and implementation structure capable of carrying out the Normalization Program using a localized but holistic and integrated approach. 

It shall be "locally-led and interagency/national government agency-supported” to be effective, as the program seeks  to strike a balance between enriching competencies and authorities already exercised by LGUs under RA 7160 or the Local Government Code and the BARMM under RA 11054. 

The LNI concept largely "depends on the local structure." As such, its framework is designed to adjust and adapt to certain peculiarities in terms of the capacities and needs of LGUs and their areas of coverage. 

The effective localized implementation of the Normalization Program also hinges on the need to instill local ownership and accountability of LGUs to the CAB. This is essential in ensuring the convergence of local efforts under EO 79 of 2019, as it aims to broaden the spectrum of participation of all stakeholders at the community level. 

The LNI is a powerful program that allows the parties to tailor-fit their initiatives to the unique needs and characteristics of each community. The program’s community-driven approach empowers local communities, promotes inclusivity, and ensures that development efforts are sustainable and effective.

Strong PLGU, security sector partnership

For his part, Governor Salliman Hataman said the "inspiration" for LNI in Basilan came from the provincial government’s campaign against the Abu-Sayyaf group.

"That time, there was no proper policy on how to deal with members of the Abu Sayyaf who are willing to mainstream back to the society. Then, this snowballs, as we implement the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Management Program," he said in Filipino.

At present, the governor said, the provincial government of Basilan and the 101st Infantry Brigade headed by BGen. Alvin Luzon has already stenciled at least 4, 500 firearms and recovered 500 firearms in the island- province.

"We need to level up our peace interventions. The result of LNI will help in the overall peace of the island province of Basilan, the BARMM regional  government, and the country," Hataman said.

Meanwhile, LtGen. William N. Gonzales, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), gave the assurance that WestMinCom will fully support the LNI’s implementation.

"This is a testament that genuine and lasting peace cannot only be achieved through armed force but more so through a mutual understanding and dialogue," Gonzales said.

"Rest assured that the team WestMinCom shall definitely endeavor to support programs or projects that would benefit the communities in our area of operations," he pledged.                     

"More importantly, we must be committed to sustaining the implementation of the campaigns and shall accomplish the initiatives that we are supposed to undertake," Gonzales added.

According to Galvez, the success of the LNI is anchored in maintaining "an open line of communication and collaboration."

"A community empowered is a community transformed. Each of us has an important role to play in transforming Basilan into a community where peace, hope, understanding, prosperity reign supreme,” he said 

“All the interventions that we will be carrying out hope to address the decades-long cycle of armed conflict in Basilan and the whole of Mindanao," the peace adviser underscored. PR


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