[Guest article: The author Jeya Murugan is the Technical Lead/Project Manager of SUBATRA and a Social Researcher]

Towards Empowering Communities for a Peaceful Bangsamoro Transition

The SUpport for the BAngsamoro TRAnsition (SUBATRA) Project aims to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secured and inclusively developed Bangsamoro through the establishment of enabling democratic governance for a smooth implementation of the transition in the Bangsamoro. It is a 3-year program funded by the European Union (EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and covers the 5 provinces and 3 cities of the BARMM and the 63 barangays in the Special Geographic Area (SGA).

Broadly, the project will help build the technical capacity of the BTA’s executive branch to formulate and implement enabling transitional policies and improve its democratic functions and governing capability. In the same vein, it will enhance the capacity of the Parliament to exercise its legislative, oversight and
representation functions during the transition. These twin objectives will be implemented by the BTA through the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

Similarly, the SUBATRA project will also help CSOs to capacitate the multifaceted Bangsamoro Justice System to adjudicate legislation and to strengthen the capacity of civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

CBCS, being a co-implementer of the SUBATRA project, rolls out its coordination effort by holding a convergence meeting of partner NGOs and concerned agencies of the BARMM on February 24, 2022 in Cotabato city.

The participants were representatives from the BARMM agencies such as the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS), Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission, BARMM (BHRC), Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC), and Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Bangsamoro (MIPA). The NGO partners were United Youth of the Philippines – Women Inc. (UNYPHIL-WOMEN, INC.), Kadtuntaya Foundation, Inc. (KFI), Confederated Descendants of Rajah Mamalu (CDORMM) and Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization Inc (TLWOI). Days before this convergence meeting, CBCS has already been reaching out to municipal LGUs in Maguindanao province for a series of coordination meetings as part of expanding the stakeholder ship of the project.

CBCS will cover a total of 27 municipalities in the 5 provinces of the BARMM including barangay Manili of Carmen, North Cotabato and the municipality of Palimbang in the province of Sultan Kudarat. These are the two areas where brutal massacres against the Moro people that killed hundreds happened during martial law.

Within the context of the SUBATRA project, CBCS is mandated to capacitate the CSOs to promote social cohesion, human rights, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), transitional justice and women empowerment, among others.
During the convergence meeting, the agencies and NGO partners shared their respective mandates and current activities on the ground. At the end, they committed to actively participate in the discussion on SUBATRA to further explore areas of coordination, collaboration and cooperation and possibilities of joint-activities on the ground.

The group also agreed that CBCS will serve as the coordinating center for the continuing conversation on SUBATRA.

Our guest, Stean Tshiband, UN Resident’s Coordinator Office (RCO) Area Coordinator graced the meeting with his brief message commending the convergence as a motivation to work together for the SUBATRA project. He committed to continuously engage the group in future dialogues.