Reintegration: Mindanao Final Agreement

II. The Transitional Period, Article 19:

a. There shall be a special socioeconomic, cultural and educational program to cater to MNLF forces not absorbed into the AFP, PNP and the SRSF to prepare them and their families for productive endeavors, provide for educational, technical skills and livelihood training and give them priority for hiring in development projects.

Implementation History

1996

Minimum Implementation

Reintegration projects specifically aimed at providing livelihood training for MNLF combatants who were not integrated into the Armed or the National Police were in the planning stages in 1996. USAID was in a good position to assist in reintegration in Mindanao because they have had a presence there since the early 1990’s with projects designed to help alleviate poverty and increase good governance (e.g., GEM and Governance and Local Democracy projects). Among the many programs funded by USAID in Mindanao, the main programs were ELAP, LEAP, and SWIFT.1

1997

Intermediate Implementation

In 1997, phase one of the United Nations Multi-Donor Programme (GOP-UNMDP) begins. The GOP-UNMDP program, in collaboration with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), sponsored a reintegration assistance program aimed at some 70,000 MNLF ex-combatants and their family members. Australia was the largest contributor to the Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT) under the Government of the Philippines – United Nations Multi-Donor Programme (GOP-UNMDP).2 

In August 1997, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hired the Berger Group to initiate the Emergency Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP). ELAP was designed to transform 13,000 former MNLF guerillas into productive farmers. ELAP, is a subcomponent of the acclaimed Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, which the Berger Group has been implementing since 1995 in collaboration with USAID, SPCPD, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangsamoro Women's Foundation for Peace and Development (BMWFPD). GEM/ELAP commenced with funding of $2.15 million to provide three core programs (1) farm inputs and training for corn and seaweed production, (2) participant managed community credit fund, and (3) literacy program for 600 ex-combatants and their female family members. ELAP started with 4000 MNLF beneficiaries in 1997. From August 1997 to December of 1998, 4000 MNLF ex-combatants entered the corn and seaweed programs. ELAP farmers produced roughly twice the amount of corn per hectare than non-ELAP farmers in the same areas and 5 times the amount of seaweed.3 

In December 1997, $500 million was pledged in a meeting attended by representatives from the Consultative Group for the Philippines for the development of Mindanao which included livelihood training projects and the formation of mobile teams intended for the integration of the former MNLF members.4

1998

Intermediate Implementation

In order to reintegrate the MNLF rebels back to civilian lives, President Ramos had also approved a program to hire former MNLF combatants to build a total of 163 bridges also called peace bridges in southern Philippines. This happened in January 1998.5 

Phase 2 of GOP-UNMDP commences in 1998. USAID’s GEM/ELAP program also continues through 1998 bringing 320 private investments valued at more than $700 million to Mindanao. The GEM program is credited with creating 57,000 jobs in Mindanao. A literacy program was launched in September 1998 with a grant from World Education, a U.S. NGO. By May 2000, 934 people had completed the functional literacy program.6

  • 5. "Former Muslim rebels to be hired to build southern Philippine bridges," Associated Press Worldstream, January 18, 1998.
  • 6. "Update: ELAP and GEM in the Philippines."
1999

Intermediate Implementation

The SWIFT program (Support with Implementing Fast Transitions) commenced in April 1999 with the same objectives as earlier programs (GEM/ELAP), that is, providing farming/livelihood assistance. A major difference in the SWIFT program was that the GRP would be the intermediary between USAID and the MNLF in order to build trust and partnerships. The SWIFT program also sought to build post-harvest processing facilities to improve economies of scale, and build local democratic structures. There appears to be no data on how many farmers interacted with these processing facilities at harvest time.7

2000

Intermediate Implementation

A USAID fourth quarter progress report on SWIFT shows that 9,945 ex-combatants participated and 16,899 families participated.8 The SWIFT program is concluded in December and external audits of ELAP/LEAP and SWIFT show moderate successes. Many ex-combatants, when surveyed, credited the programs with keeping them from returning to armed conflict 9

2001

Intermediate Implementation

While GEM was conceived as a five-year program running from 1995 to 2001, increased terrorism in Mindanao in 2000 and 2001 influences USAID to extend their programs. 

Also in 2001, phase three of the United Nations Multi-Donor Programme (GOP-UNMDP) begins. The GOP-UNMDP program, in collaboration with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), sponsored a reintegration assistance program aimed at some 70,000 MNLF ex-combatants and their family members. Australia was the largest contributor to the Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT) under the Government of the Philippines – United Nations Multi-Donor Programme (GOP-UNMDP).10

2002

Intermediate Implementation

In 2002, Gem-2 commences with a plan of running from 2002 to 2007. ELAP is renamed the Livelihood Enhancement and Peace Program (LEAP).

2003

Intermediate Implementation

GEM-2 and LEAP continue to operate in 2003. No updates found on other ongoing programs for this year. 

2004

Intermediate Implementation

GEM-2 and LEAP continue to operate in 2004. As of June 2004, the UNDP Program had provided livelihood assistance to 101 cooperatives with 4,388 beneficiaries (3,513 males and 875 females). UNDP provided 57 training courses on agricultural technologies and cooperative financial management to 1,867 beneficiaries (1,553 males and 314 females).

2005

Full Implementation

In 2005, the Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT) is the fourth phase of the Government of the Philippines – United Nations Multi-Donor Programme (GOP-UNMDP) that began in 1997. Funded by Australia, New Zealand and Spain, the final phase is being implemented from June 2005 up to May 2010. It covers 16 provinces and 14 cities of the former Special Zone for Peace and Development (SZOPAD) in Southern Philippines identified in the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement, and the four provinces and three cities in the Caraga Region. The Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) serves as the overall implementing agency with the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the lead implementing agency for the ARMM areas. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) serves as the managing agent for the entire program.

Also active in 2005 are the GEM-2 and LEAP programs. According to USAID reports, over 28,000 former MNLF combatants were assisted in GEM-2 from 2002 to 2007.11