By Priam Nepomuceno

Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo Jr. (right) (Photo courtesy of OPAPRU)

MANILA – A Cabinet official said the Marcos administration fully supports the Bangsamoro peace process and is committed to helping uplift the lives of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and their families and develop their areas into peaceful, progressive, and resilient communities.

“Today is another demonstration of this administration’s commitment to taking material steps in ensuring that our countrymen in the Bangsamoro Region have their share of justice, peace, and development,” Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo Jr., said during the ninth meeting of the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Committee Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) on Thursday.

This ICCMN is the first to be held under the current administration.

Lagdameo, who also co-chairs the ICCMN, said they also recognized the Normalization Program’s efforts in the preservation of peace and the improvement of the quality of life of the Filipino people.

He lauded the ICCMN’s efforts in fast-tracking the implementation of the Normalization Program.

“I am pleased with the developments of the mainstreaming of former combatants, including the continued disbandment of private armed groups, and transformation of MILF camps. On a larger lens, I note that this is considerable progress towards the planned implementation of the Exit Agreement by 2025,” Lagdameo said.

He emphasized that providing sustainable livelihood to the former combatants is among the Marcos administration’s main priorities.

“Furthermore, our administration is fully cognizant of the challenges brought about by our present economic conditions. The pursuit of an economic agenda aimed at inclusivity and sustainable livelihood development, as well as providing former combatants a stable means of reintegration as contributing members of the society, will always remain a top priority,” Lagdameo said.

He also told the ICCMN member agencies “to ensure the availability of our nation’s resources to our fellow Filipinos.”

At least 30 government agencies attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, outgoing Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity and Department of National Defense officer in charge, Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the ICCMN meeting reflects the government’s “collective commitment to the implementation of the Normalization Program in the Bangsamoro.”

Galvez called on the body’s members to “remain focused in fulfilling our commitments as we respond to the emerging realities on the ground.”

“With the gains we have achieved under the Bangsamoro peace process, there is a need for the ICCMN to sustain the momentum of all its initiatives, and make sure that they are making the greatest impact on the people we are serving – the Bangsamoro people,” he added.

The ICCMN’s sub-clusters reported on the major accomplishments made under the various components of the Normalization Program.

These sub-clusters include the Security Cluster headed by Presidential Assistant David B. Diciano; the Socioeconomic Cluster led by Ariel C. Hernandez; and the Confidence-building Measures and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Clusters headed by Presidential Assistant Wilben M. Mayor.

The ICCMN was created to ensure the timely, appropriate, and efficient implementation of the Normalization Program under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro through close collaboration and greater synergy among national line agencies.

It was established through Executive Order (EO) 79 issued by former president Rodrigo R. Duterte on April 24, 2019.

To continue the gains of the ICCMN, the Marcos administration issued EO 6 last year, which strengthens the body.

The ICCMN is tasked to ensure a whole-of-government approach to generate funding and resources needed to implement the Normalization Program and fully transform the combatants and their families into peaceful and productive members of society.

The ICCMN is co-chaired by Lagdameo and Galvez.

Acting Presidential Peace Adviser Isidro L. Purisima shall take over Galvez’s role as co-chair after his recent appointment as head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity. (PNA)