Cotabao City - The Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST) in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) received three-month worth of rice provision from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A total of 144 sacks of rice were distributed to 180 members of JPST deployed in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Government declared a national public health emergency and an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. In Mindanao, several local governments have also implemented complementary measures including localized lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. However, the lockdown in the country poses challenges in transporting goods and services.
“The provision of rice assistance to the JPSTs aims to sustain the dividend of peace in conflict-vulnerable areas in Mindanao in the face of this unprecedented health crisis,” said OPAPP Undersecretary David B. Diciano, who is also the chair of the Philippine Government Peace Implementing Panel.
The JPST is a peace-keeping force deployed in areas mutually identified by the Philippines Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Currently, there are six operating units, composed of 30 members per contingent, from Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. It is one of the transitional mechanisms established under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
“The Bangsamoro Region has the huge task of maintaining its peace building work while dealing with COVID-19. It is important to ensure that the Joint Peace and Security Teams can still do their part despite the quarantine restrictions and difficulties in accessing food supplies. COVID-19 should not be allowed to roll back four decades of efforts to achieve lasting peace,” said Titon Mitra, UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines.
UNDP works with the Philippine Government to sustain its gains on the comprehensive peace process through the Support to Peace-building and Normalization (SPAN) program by providing logistic support, capacity building, and deployment of JPST. [E]