Photo by Marhom Ibrahim
COTABATO CITY—Acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in the Philippines Dr. Selva Ramachandran emphasized during the celebration of UN Day on Oct. 24, that the celebration in the Philippines is a celebration of peace and hope in the Bangsamoro.
“The 2022 UN Day Celebration in the Philippines has a special meaning for the United Nations as it celebrates, not only the founding date but also a celebration of peace and hope in the Bangsamoro,” Ramachandran said.
The UN Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the founding of the organization on October 24, 1945 by 51 nations across the globe, including the Republic of the Philipines. This year’s celebration carries the theme “End Racism. Build Peace”.
“The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), and many other positive steps the region has witnessed within the past eight years represent a fresh breath of hope in a region that was known for its instability and armed conflicts,” he added.
According to Ramachandran, the UN and its various specialized agencies, funds, and programmes have been at the forefront of multilateral response to crises, providing and coordinating relief assistance, delivering critical services, assuming transitional authority functions, and providing development assistance.
In terms of peace, UN has been instrumental in the establishment of the rule of law in the region and promoting and protecting the rights of children.
In 2017, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which now leads the Government of the Day, was recognized by UN for its removal from a UN list of armed groups recruiting and using children.
Both parties began working together by signing an Action Plan in 2009 which was completed at the beginning of 2017 upon the fulfilment of a six-point roadmap, resulting in the disengagement of 1,869 children from the ranks of the MILF.
The disengagement of children from the armed conflict paved way to provision of appropriate support and services from government and development partners to enjoy all their rights to health, education and protection.
“The United Nations have a decades-long history with the Bangsamoro, where many UN agencies, have been delivering critical programs,” Ramachandran explained.
“On this date, the UN footprint in Bangsamoro has significantly increased with eighteen entities on the ground, fifteen of them delivering programs, and the remaining three providing coordination services”, he added.
While the UN interventions in the region have brought remarkable milestone even prior to the establishment of the new autonomous government, the UN support in the region continue to pour.
UN has also played a key role in streghthening the social protection system of BARMM.
In August 13, 2020, a Joint Programme funded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund was launched to build the resilience of households in the region, with special attention to poor and vulnerable households, through timely and effective responses to risks and shocks.
The SDG was spearheaded by the UN and was implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Food and Agrciulture Organization (FAO).
The official also cited that while he cannot list all UN activities in the region, he assured the regional government of its continued support.
“The United Nations will always remain by your side and accompany all parties involved in the quest for a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro,” he stressed.
To date, UN programs in the Bangsamoro include support to the normalization process, rule of law, local governance, digital transformation and e-governance, logistical and administrative support to legislative system, support to the justice sector, strengthening disaster risk reduction, energy, climate change and adaptation, micro, small and medium enterprises, and various areas or work contributing to the resilience and sustainable peace and development in Bangsamoro. (Abdullah Matucan/BIO)