MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) has lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for his commitment and unwavering support to the Bangsamoro and helping former rebels in their transformation process.

“What we have witnessed in today’s (Monday) SONA (State Of the Nation Address) is President Marcos’ genuine sincerity in implementing all the signed peace agreements, and his commitment to bring sustainable peace throughout the country. This is true to his mantra of unity towards national healing and reconciliation,” OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.

In his second SONA, Marcos vowed to continue to support the progress of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and to help former rebels to regain their legal rights through an amnesty program as part of the administration’s effort to push forward the country’s comprehensive peace process.

“We are proud of the progress that the BARMM has taken. It will be self-governing, it will be progressive, and it will be effective,” the President said.

Marcos also said this progress was only made possible due to cooperation made by key groups which included local government units, royal families, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He also added that these sectors were all consulted and represented in this transition phase.

“The international community has also supported us in this smooth transition. Former adversaries are now partners in peace. Its functions have been defined, and its basic laws are now being written,” Marcos said.

To recall, less than two months into his administration, Marcos administered the oath of office to 80 newly and reappointed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Aug. 12, 2022.

This is the first time that the composition of the BTA includes members of the MNLF, particularly from the group of its founding chairman Nur Misuari.

Marcos emphasized the great potential of the region and stressed that “through the BARMM, we have strengthened the nation’s prospects for finally achieving sustainable progress anchored on a true and lasting peace in Southern Philippines. We will continue to support the progress of the BARMM, apace with our singular vision for all Filipinos.”

He said the national government is expanding its energy resources to include the BARMM.

“The national government has also partnered with the BARMM in regard to energy exploration and development, and also its utilization within its territorial jurisdiction. We, therefore, expect to see renewed investor interest in its promising sites,” the Chief Executive pointed out.

Last July 6, the President witnessed the signing of the Intergovernmental Energy Board Circular (EIB) on the Joint Award of Petroleum Service Contracts and Coal Operating Contracts in the BARMM, which marks another major milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process.

The IEB Circular operationalizes the provision in Section 10, Article XIII of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, to jointly grant rights, privileges, and concessions for the exploration, development, and utilization of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro.

The circular aims to boost economic development and draw foreign capital into the region.

Meanwhile, the President also highlighted the government’s effort in the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

“Five years since the siege, Marawi City will rise again. The community has come alive again. A lot of projects have been completed and many infrastructures are being constructed. We are currently processing the financial aid for the victims of the Marawi siege for them to be able to start again. May hope prevail. May unity, vigilance and the desire for peace and prosperity continue,” the President said.

Last week, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Galvez, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who co-sponsored the Republic Act 11696 or the Marawi Siege Compensations Act of 2022, and other officials witnessed firsthand the applications for compensation claims filed with the Marawi Compensation Board.

To ensure the holistic transformation of former combatants, the President emphasized the need of granting amnesty.

“For almost half a century, some of our fellow Filipinos have taken to arms to make their views known and felt. We are now at a point in our history when their armed struggle has evolved. We have now progressed together towards peace and development,” Marcos added.

“We have incorporated capacity-building and social protection into our reintegration programs to guarantee full decommissioning of former combatants. Through community development and livelihood programs, the Barangay Development and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs have been effective in addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside,” he added. (PNA)