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Japan, Phl launch project to enhance peace and security in Mindanao

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The Government of Japan in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a new project “Enhancing and Sustaining Peace and Security Mechanisms in Mindanao” which aims to empower the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) and better serve communities as agents of peace and development by enhancing their physical, social, and economic capacities. The project includes training JPST members in community-oriented safeguarding, providing logistics and communications equipment, rehabilitating JPST stations, and offering socioeconomic assistance to strengthen social cohesion.

Japanese Ambassador KOSHIKAWA Kazuhiko graced the launch of the project. on February 14, 2024, with Deputy Presidential Advisor on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Senior Undersecretary Isidro L. Purisima, Peace Implementing Panel Co-Chair Cesar Yano and International Organization for Migration (IOM) Chief of Mission Tristan Burnett. Also in attendance were Co-Chairs of Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) Francisco Ariel Felicidario III and Abunawas Maslamama.

Japan will provide a total of USD 2.58 million to further capacitate the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), which is a peace-keeping force composed of members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) established with a mission to maintain peace and order in Mindanao during the transitional period. Under the 12-month project, the IOM will develop modules for refresher training of JPST members and training of trainers (ToT), provide vehicles, motorcycles, and communications/logistics tools for JPSTs, rehabilitate at least 4 JPST stations, and provide livelihood training and kits for at least 4 CBOs/Cooperatives to improve the vulnerable community members and JPST-MILF members. The project is expected to have a positive impact on the peace and security in the communities where a total of 24 JPSTs are deployed, not to mention the direct beneficiaries of approximately 720 JPST members.

Back in 2019, the Government of Japan supported the establishment of 10 JPST stations under the project “Assistance for the Normalization Process of the Decommissioning of MILF Combatants and Security Enforcement in the Peace Process” through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The project will be implemented in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), the Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC), the security sector, the Bangsamoro Government, local government units, and beneficiary communities.

In his speech, Ambassador Koshikawa conveyed his ardent hope “that the strengthened JPSTs will be able to perform their duties with more ease and confidence, especially with the approach of the 2025 Bangsamoro Parliament election.”

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