• MILF camps soon to be farming communities – DA

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched an agricultural program that would transform Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao into peaceful farming communities.

    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, together with former DA Secretary and Philippine government (GPH) peace panel member Senen Bacani, led the turn over of some P26-million worth of agricultural equipment, planting materials and farm animals to beneficiaries in six Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps in a ceremony held in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao recently.

    “The program, covering six former MILF camps, is an initial confidence-building measure under the Bangsamoro peace process, with the end in view of transforming these areas into peaceful and productive communities,” Alcala said.

    The five of the six MILF camps –Abubakar, Omar, Badre, Rajamuda and Bushra – are located in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, two of the five component provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The sixth camp –Camp Bilal – is located in Lanao del Norte, which falls under Region 10, or Northern Mindanao.

    The farmer beneficiaries comprise 145 combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) decommissioned in June 2015.

    The initiative was organized by the Task Force Camps Transformation (TFCT) in partnership with the DA-Farmer’s Assistance Program, and part of the normalization process stipulated under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the MILF and the Philippine government.

    “The implementation of such confidence-building measures is undertaken through the Joint Task Forces mandated to help transform the MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities,” he said.

    Among the equipment and materials turned over to farmers in the communities were six units of heavy-duty 90HP farm tractor with complete accessories; six units of cassava grater; three units of hand tractor; 1200 bags of palay seeds and fertilizer; and 1200 bags of OPV corn seeds and fertilizer.

    Also part of the assistance was planting materials such as 300 pieces of assorted rambutan, lanzones, jackfruit seedlings; and 300 pieces coffee, achuete, and guyabano seedlings. Eighteen carabaos were also turned over to local farmers in conflict-affected areas.

    In addition, certificates of commitment from the DA were given during the event for the upcoming delivery of 16 units of non-motorized bancas; 160 units of fish traps or “baliyat”; 12 modules of goats (one module is composed of 4 female goats and one male goat); 18 heads of cattle; 6 units of corn sheller; 6 units of corn mill.

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