(Lead) Aquino creates Task Force on Bangsamoro Dev't

February 19, 2013 11:15 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 19 — President Benigno S. Aquino III has issued a directive creating the Task Force on Bangsamoro Development to push forward the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the region.

This follows the signing of the framework agreement for a peace settlement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said Tuesday.

Ochoa said Administrative Order No. 37, which President Aquino signed Feb 13, will ensure that development projects and programs are implemented in Bangsamoro, a new autonomous region that will be established in Mindanao, for MILF combatants and their families as well as communities that will be affected by the framework agreement signed in October last year.

The task force, according to Ochoa, is mandated to develop and implement programs that will respond to the health, education and livelihood needs of MILF priority beneficiaries and poverty-stricken communities throughout Mindanao.

“The peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mindanao goes beyond the signing of the framework agreement. This administration wants to ensure that peace and progress go hand in hand,” Ochoa said.

The Aquino administration last week took the initial step to help MILF forces and their families and affected persons and communities with the launch of the social development plan called Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program in Maguindanao.

“Although the initial beneficiaries of the program will be MILF members and their families, other residents in the region will also receive the benefits of the peace agreement and the development and livelihood initiatives that go with it,” the Executive Secretary said.

The task force is composed of the Cabinet secretary as chairperson and the heads of the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Health (DOH), Education (DepEd), Agriculture (DA), the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Budget and Management, and the presidential adviser on the peace process (OPAPP) as members.

Other members are the secretaries of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS), as well as the heads of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC).

The President also instructed the task force to coordinate with the Transition Commission, created under Executive Order No. 120 last year, in the development and implementation of the program.

He likewise ordered the task force and Transition Commission to jointly monitor the implementation of the development projects and submit regular reports to the Office of the President.

Funding for the operation of the task force will be drawn initially from the current budgets of member-agencies and subsequent appropriations will be incorporated in their annual budget proposals.

AO 37 shall take effect immediately. (PNA)

HBC/PCOO/SSC

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