COTABATO CITY – It is a vote of confidence for the Bangsamoro government in the expansion of the peace and development efforts of the European Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund in the autonomous region.
Officials of the European Union (EU) donated last Monday, January 16, to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority two 24-seater air-conditioned coasters that its 80 members, comprising the regional parliament, can use.
Members of the 80-seat Bangsamoro interim parliament told reporters Thursday they were elated with the gesture of the EU that has actively been helping push the Mindanao peace process forward.
Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, figurehead of the parliament, said Thursday the continuing support of EU to the BARMM administration is, for them, a show of trust in its dedication to foster peace and sustainable development in the five provinces and three cities in its core territory.
The two shuttle coasters were turned over to Ebrahim by EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron in a symbolic rite at the BARMM capitol. Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. witnessed the turnover.
Four members of the BARMM parliament, Dan Asnawie, the physician Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., and lawyers Ras Mitmug and Omar Sema separately told reporters at the sideline of the event then that they appreciate EU’s show of confidence in the Bangsamoro government, manifested via Veron’s visit to the regional capitol here on Monday.
Representatives from EU and UNICEF, BARMM officials, and local executives launched Wednesday in Marawi City a program dubbed “Building Community Resilience and Delivery of Essential Services for Post Conflict Recovery in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.”
The joint EU-UNICEF program aims to strengthen community resilience, increase coverage of essential services, and promote “child-friendly family and community behaviors” among beneficiaries in 44 municipalities in the neighboring Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and Bukidnon provinces.
The Euro 4 million, roughly equivalent to P245 million, budget for the program earmarked for health, education, child protection, and disaster risk reduction that would benefit at least 680,000 children, 200,000 parents, and 120,000 persons affected by the deadly 2017 conflict in Marawi City instigated by the Maute terrorist group.
“Children have a right to be children and play, learn and spend time with family and friends. Safeguarding the next generation from the effects of armed conflict is our collective responsibility,” Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF’s representative to the Philippines, said during the launching of the program.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. said he is thankful to the EU and UNICEF for embarking on projects essential to the recovery of the conflict-stricken communities in Marawi City and in other towns under his jurisdiction.
“We are grateful to the EU and UNICEF,” Adiong, chairperson of the multi-sector Lanao del Sur provincial peace and order council, said.
The office of Adiong has various programs complementing the national government’s rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City. (JOHN UNSON)