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Decommissioned MILF combatants complete skills trainings

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- After laying down their arms and returning to mainstream society, former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants will soon be earning sustainable incomes as welders, electricians, farmers and dressmakers.

This, as 155 decommissioned MILF members graduated from Technical Vocational Education and Training courses on Thursday, which is considered a major milestone for them and their families who have made the successful transition as peaceful and productive civilians.

The provision of technical vocational trainings for the former combatants is part of the socioeconomic development component being implemented through the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN).

The ICCMN, a multi-agency body, is mandated to implement the Normalization track's four main components which include: security, socio-economic development, confidence-building measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.

Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Minister and MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal graced the first mass graduation ceremony of the decommissioned combatants in the BARMM Region.

"Dahil sa napagkasunduan ng gobyerno at ng MILF, galing sa pakikipaglaban ngayon ay patungo na tayo sa pagiging produktibong miyembro ng society. Isinasakatuparan natin ang pinagkasunduan [kaya] very historic ito na graduation," Iqbal told the graduates in the vernacular.

He stressed that quality education is "the key to success here in the temporary world and in the final world," which is essential in sustaining the essence of the Bangsamoro identity.

The graduates completed trainings on electrical installation and maintenance, shielded metal arc welding, plant crops, and dress-making.

The trainings were conducted by the Maguindanao Institute of Technology and Learning Center, Inc., Buluan Technological Education and School for Life, Inc., Goldtown Technological Institute, Inc., and Eastern Kutawato Islamic Institute, Inc.

The provision of training courses is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and MBHTE thru Technical Education and Skills Development (TESD).

Government of the Philippines (GPH) Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities (TFDCC) Chairperson and BARMM Member of Parliament Atty. Laisa M. Alamia, in her message read by Sanabila Sabil, underscored the importance of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under the socioeconomic component of the normalization process.

"Layunin ng TVET na linangin ang kakayahan ng mga decommissioned MILF combatants at ng kanilang pamilya para magkaroon sila ng mas maraming oportunidad tulad ng pagkakaroon ng maliit na negosyo o di kaya ng mas magandang trabaho," Alamia said.

The graduates were also joined by family members – daughters, wives, and nieces – some of whom were the ones who availed of the training packages on behalf of the former combatants due to the latters’ old age.

Decommissioned combatants from other Maguindanao areas, as well as from the provinces of Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have also started their vocational trainings.

Also attending the graduation ceremony were Ruby Andong, Director General, MBHTE-TESD; Engr. Rasul Datukali, Provincial Planning focal, MBHTE-TESD Maguindanao Provincial Office; Flora Salendab, ATIM II President; Michael Obpon, EKIII TVI focal; Hadji Bukol Abbas, commander, 109 Base Command, Eastern Mindanao Front; Abdul Azzim Dalinan, OIC chairman, political committee, DPC; and Dida S. Manibpel, school head, GTI. (OPAPP)

About the Author

Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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