MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will launch the socio-economic initiative “Sajahatra Bangsamoro” on Monday to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of Moro Islamic Liberation Front communities.




He will be with other government officials and foreign dignitaries.


It will be done while negotiations on the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro are continuing.


Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said Aquino wants to provide immediate socio-economic interventions for the MILF communities.


Officials came up with the Sajahatra Bangsamoro project in partnership with the MILF leadership, he added.


“Sajahatra Bangsamoro, an Arabic-Melayu-Bahasa derivative which means ‘Peace Bangsamoro,’ is the President’s concrete peace initiative and assistance for the MILF communities,” he said.


Almendras said the program will signify the partnership between the government and the MILF in working towards peace and development of Bangsamoro communities.


“It is very close to the MILF camp,” he said. “It is right there smack in the center. But I can tell you for a fact, in the past two weeks, both the government organizations mainly the Presidential Security Group, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, everybody has just been working together to find a way to bring it together into a situation where the place is going to be safe for all of us. We will be going there.”


The project will be “in a very big scale” with the presence of Cabinet members and foreign guests, especially those who had been helping in the peace process, Almendras said.


Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal will also be leading the event.


Invited are Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Ab’ Ghafar Tengku bin Mohammed and Malaysian head of the secretariat Che Khasna.


Almendras said they are going to make MILF members feel the presence and the services of the national government. “First of all, we will launch a health program,” he said.


“Some of them will now become members of PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp). So there will be a symbolic turnover of a PhilHealth card to the chairman himself.”


The project will include upgrading of community-based health services by the Department of Health; provision of college scholarships and technical-vocational training by the Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; educational assistance to madaris (Islamic schools) and private schools by the Department of Education, needs assessment of selected Bangsamoro communities; cash-for- work program, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development. -- Aurea Calica/Philippine Star