• By The Financial District


A total of Php70 million has been allocated to transform Bangsamoro areas into zones of peace and security with the Department of Trade and Industry providing the tools to promoting entrepreneurships in the previous war zones.

This followed the signing of an agreement between the DTI and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process (OPAPP) where OPAPP will provide the funding, and the DTI will develop and supervise livelihood projects for decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation From (MILF) combatants and their families in Bangsamoro communities.   

The memorandum of agreement between the two agencies seek to do the following: (a) livelihood projects in each of the identified decommissioned communities and major camps; (b) relevant trainings to improve or sustain operations; (c) the preparation of product-area feasibility studies for possible future larger projects; and, (d) the partial implementation of one special project to a host local government unit (LGU).   

The proposed livelihood projects under the DTI-OPAPP Project for Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) aims to transform Bangsamoro areas into zones of peace and prosperity. This will encourage target beneficiaries in the communities to live peaceful and productive lives, prevent them from rejoining other discontented groups, and deny the use of these areas as rebel camps of other anti-government groups in the future. 

“DTI firmly believes that—given our agency’s commitment to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which serve as the economic backbone of our country—promoting entrepreneurship in the Bangsamoro will pave the way for greater grassroots development in the region,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

DTI was tapped by OPAPP to assist in the development of sustainable livelihood, entrepreneurial, and food security projects in eight (8) decommissioned MILF combatants’ communities, including major MILF Camps, within the framework of the Normalization Process under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). 

DTI’s programs to the Bangsamoro communities will provide capital equipment needs of projects supported under a “Usufruct” arrangement, similar to DTI’s Shared Services Facilities (SSF) program. DTI’s Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) will also conduct training under the Peaceful Return through Aggressive Inclusion and Social Entrepreneurship (PRAISE). The training will help aspiring entrepreneurs in the Bangsamoro communities in the development and management of enterprises. 

“The Bangsamoro region has a vast agriculture potential that is just waiting to be unlocked. With sufficient funding and technical support from the government, there is no doubt that the area can become one of the top agricultural hubs not only in Mindanao, but throughout the country,” said OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. 

“DTI fully supports OPAPP’s mission for peace by helping former combatants turn their ‘swords into ploughshares.’ This, in turn, will create inclusive growth in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) while helping their communities achieve a better quality and way of life free from violence, fear, and despair,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

The project will be supervised under the operating guidelines and policies determined by the DTI Technical Working Group (DTI-TWG), with the consent of the Joint Steering Committee of OPPAP and DTI, through the ICCMN Socioeconomic Cluster. 

OPAPP also signed another MOA with National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Administrator Ricardo Visaya for the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation projects in major MILF camps. This will create more jobs and provide greater infrastructure for agriculture in Bangsamoro communities.

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