General Santos City City – In a ceremony to mark their partnership and collaboration, the Office for Settler Communities of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OSC - BARMM) Executive Director, Mr. Edgar Ramirez, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), spearheaded by its Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, reaffirmed their joint commitment to advance peace and development and to support the promotion of welfare and addressing the concerns of settler communities in the region.
In 2020, the OSC-BARMM was officially mandated as the primary agency responsible to ensure that settlers in the region enjoy the rights guaranteed to them by Republic Act (RA) No. 11054 or the "Bangsamoro Organic Law", the 1987 Constitution, and all other laws as may be enacted by the Bangsamoro Parliament.
Through the partnership, UNDP will provide technical assistance to the newly institutionalized OSC in carrying out its mandate to support the rights of settlers in order to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Bangsamoro—a region primarily shaped by the presence of the Tri-people: the Moros, settlers, and the Indigenous Peoples.
The collaboration between the OSC and the UNDP will set the foundation for the formulation and realization of the OSC-BARMM Direction and Strategic Plan (2021-2025). It will also pave the way to enable comprehensive support for the settlers’ communities’ empowerment and inclusion in social innovation and entrepreneurship for lasting peace and sustainable development.
During the activity, OSC Executive Director Ramirez noted that “with the creation of the Office of Settler Communities in the Bangsamoro, the engaging journey of the minorities brings hope. Its institutionalization goes beyond legal mandate. It is imperative to build its network of partners such as UNDP and among others within and outside the Bangsamoro.”
“UNDP has always been a steadfast partner of the Bangsamoro government. In line with our mission to leave no one behind, we will work with the OSC in promoting the rights of the settlers—an important segment of the population—in the region. We believe in the transformational role of the OSC in reducing conflict in BARMM,” said Dr. Ramachandran.
The OSC-BARMM and UNDP partnership is envisioned to contribute to the BARMM government’s efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace and development for all people in the Bangsamoro region. Aside from supporting the OSC-BARMM in establishing its strategic directions, UNDP will also provide capacity building for research and analysis, and support the institution in establishing its gender, youth, and community resilience advocacies for settler communities. The partnership is supported through the project "Preventing Violent Extremism through Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity Phase II" which is co-funded by the European Union.