Joint Peace and Security Station established in Lanao del Norte

July 1, 2021

(L-R) Winston Camariñas, UNDP Cotabato Field Office Head; Alim Isah Bato, MILF JPSC Member; BGen. Francisco Ariel Felicidario III, GPH JPSC Co-chair; BARMM Deputy Minister Toks Brahim, MILF JNC Secretariat Head

MUNAI, LANAO DEL NORTE - The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines turned over a newly constructed Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) Station in Brgy. Panggao, Munai, Lanao del Norte to the Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) as part of the multi-stakeholder efforts to maintain peace and stability in the area.

The JPSTs are a peace-keeping force composed of contingents from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine National Police mobilized on the ground with a mission to maintain peace and order in Mindanao.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to challenge our peacebuilding efforts, the JPSC has remained tireless in delivering their mandate for peace and security, and has continuously pushed for the activation and deployment of joint peacekeeping teams across Mindanao. On our end, UNDP remains committed in its support to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro Peace Process,” noted UNDP Cotabato Field Office Head Winston Camariñas in his message.

On behalf of the Joint Peace and Security Committee, Mr. Alim Isah Bato, MILF-JPSC member, accepted the newly built JPST Station.

The government of Japan, which supports the establishment of the JPST stations across the region, has been a steadfast supporter of OPAPP for the attainment of sustainable development and lasting peace in Mindanao, and a committed development partner of UNDP.

In his remarks, Okada Fumiaki, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, signified the Japanese government’s commitment to supporting the work in BARMM, noting that “as the peace process of Mindanao is developing, Japanese Government and JICA will continue and further expand the cooperation for the transition to Bangsamoro Autonomous Government, the Normalization process and improvement of socio-economic infrastructures.”

The structure in Brgy. Panggao will serve as the barracks and the command post of the JPST Munai—a 30-man operating unit composed of 7 members from Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 8 members from the Philippine National Police (PNP), and 15 members from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The JPSTs have trained together to maintain transitional security in areas mutually selected by the Philippine government and the MILF to aid the interim period of the peace process in the Bangsamoro region.

In his message to the 30 members of the newly activated JPST in Munai, MP Abdullah Macapaar, Commander of the North-Western Mindanao Front, said: “Kami po ay nag-papasalamat dahil matagal na naming hinihintay ang kapayapaan at pagtutulungan ng AFP, PNP, and BIAF. Isa po ito sa makakatulong sa pag-unlad hindi lang po ng bayan ng Lanao del Norte, kundi ng buong Mindanao.” (We are grateful because we have been waiting for peace to finally be restored through the collaboration of the AFP, PNP, and BIAF. This will contribute to the development of not only Lanao del Norte, but of the whole of Mindanao as well.)

The construction of JPST stations is supported and implemented through the OPAPP-UNDP “Support to Peacebuilding and Normalization” project and the Japan-UNDP “Assistance to Normalization” project.

To date, there are already four barracks and six field stations turned over to the JPSTs, with 12 teams and 366 members now deployed across Mindanao and the Bangsamoro region.