• Ex-MILF rebels get aid from peace panel, World Bank

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    SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Families of 145 former rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
    (MILF) received a herd of cattle in assistance from the government peace panel and World Bank
    representatives in Camp Abubakar, now renamed as Camp Iranun, in Barira town in this province.

    Irene Santiago of the government peace panel and her counterpart in the MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, and World Bank representative Matthew Stephens launched socio-economic projects in Camp Iranun to hasten the returnees’ integration into the mainstream of society who decommissioned and turned over their firearms last year.
    Among those who benefited from the livestock distribution were widows of guerrillas who were killed in clashes with the military in previous years.

    A water supply project worth P2.3 million for farmer families in the camp was also launched.

    The activity was capped with a simple commencement rite for 70 villagers in a basic literacy course via a program assisted by the World Bank.

    “This is very symbolic. After almost 17 years, both panels came here together to show support and commitment to peace and development,” Stephens said.

    The World Bank is helping push the southern peace process forward as main benefactor of the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF), a source of grants for peace and development projects in underdeveloped conflict-affected areas.

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on July 9, 2000 overran Camp Abubakar, which was also the site of a bloody three-week offensive that resulted in the deaths of over a hundred soldiers and MILF fighters.

    To the MILF, Camp Abubakar is historic not only because it is their bastion with an elite training camp known as Abubakar Assidique Military Academy but it is also where the house of Udtadz Salamat Hashim, the MILF founder, can be found up to this day.

    The 10,000-hectare Camp Iranun is now secured by the Philippine Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion.

    The government and the MILF signed on October 15, 2013 the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and subsequently the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro on March 27, 2014.

    E nforcement of the agreements is being pursued bilaterally by both panels led by Santiago and Iqbal, now named implementing panels, as agreed during a meeting by government and MILF representatives last year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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