Oliver Bugarin 3 0 0 4 min to read

Japan commits P285-M grant to BARMM small arms reduction initiative.

To combat the periodic conflicts brought on by using private small arms and light weapons (SALWs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Japan is contributing USD5 million, or roughly PHP285 million (BARMM).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines will undertake the Assistance for Security, Peace, Integration, and Recovery for Advanced Human Security in BARMM (ASPIRE) project, which will offer technical assistance to manage and lessen SALWs in the area.

The decommissioning of former combatants and the gradual reduction of loose firearms are volatile periods in a transition, according to UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran on Tuesday. “Transitional security is one of the most critical issues in the implementation of any peace agreement,” she added.

“Both peace panels have confirmed to UNDP that a successful SALW program, along with the expedited provision of socio-economic support, will help decommission and enable the larger normalization process to move forward swiftly and effectively,” he said continued.

The program would also help former fighters and members of private armed groups (PAGs) in the area support their livelihoods and increase community knowledge of the risks associated with owning small arms.

Kazuhiko Koshikawa, the Japanese ambassador, declared during the signing and note-exchanging that Tokyo would continue to assist the peace process and future growth in Mindanao.

He stated that the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) had asked the Government of Japan for assistance in resolving the SALW issue since it had become a severe threat to the peace process.

“I am happy that Japan can sponsor it,” he continued. “As the first large-scale and comprehensive effort to address the issue of private SALWs, this project will be a great milestone for the normalization.”

Ahod Ebrahim, the chief minister of BARMM, thanked the Japanese government for the move and called it a “major step towards normalization.”

In a message by Ali Salik of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, he said, “The project ASPIRE is a significant and relevant initiative to augment, improve and strengthen the existing government policies of the Bangsamoro Government towards normalization, which is too crucial yet fulfilling when successfully implemented.”

He continued, “I sincerely hope this endeavor will be fruitful, and we commit to maintaining the benefits from this program.

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