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Basilan welcomes Japanese-funded ASPIRE project for peace and development

ISABELA CITY, Basilan, Oct. 12 (PIA) - The Province of Basilan recently welcomed contingents from the Assistance for Security, Peace, Integration and Recovery for Advancing Human Security (ASPIRE) program that aims to reduce gun ownership and brings hope for a brighter and more peaceful future for the province.

The Japanese government funded the ASPIRE program through a grant aid of P220.5 million (579 million Japanese Yen), which is part of Tokyo’s contribution to the peace process in Mindanao that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is implementing.

The program further aims to establish a framework for Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) management in the province, with hopes that it will become a good practice model for SALW management across other areas of the country. The program encourages the registration and stenciling of loose firearms in the identified areas and aims to provide socio-economic support for individuals, families, and entire communities, to promote peace and security and help with the Bangsamoro Normalization Process between the government and former combatants.

During the launching program, Governor Jim Saliman Hataman shared how the SALW program, which is being complemented by ASPIRE, has been working to render firearms unserviceable and has led to the surrender of hundreds of guns since 2020. He expressed his confidence that the ASPIRE program will expand on the gains of the SALW program and contribute to the normalization of the province and the entire Bangsamoro.

Governor Salliman also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government and the national government for all the support they extended to Basilan.

“On behalf of the people of Basilan, we would like to thank the national government, the different departments, the Embassy of the Government of Japan, the UNDP, and the stakeholders from other sectors. Hopefully kung ano yung development na naramdaman ng taga-Basilan at yung saya at kung ano yung naappreciate ng national government at ng taga-labas sa Basilan, magkakaroon ng qualifying effect at magkaroon siya ng sustainable impact sa next phase ng development,” Gov. Hataman expressed.

Meanwhile, Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Department of National Defense has praised the program as a proactive and innovative way of addressing the issue of loose firearms. He also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for being a partner of the Philippine government to establish a stronger and more resilient country.

Moreover, Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) lauded the local government unit of Basilan for its strong leadership in improving the peace and order condition on the island province, which led to the awarding of the prestigious Galing Pook award. He also stressed that peace is very important towards development.  

“Peace would always be an essential ingredient for development,” Secretary Abalos said as he admired the leadership of Governor Salliman especially his concept in promoting peace and development in the province.

For his part, Sec. Galvez emphasized that the launching of ASPIRE program symbolizes the relentless effort to put an end to the cycle of violence and achieve the lasting peace in the peaceful province of Basilan and throughout Mindanao.

Sec. Galvez added that ASPIRE is the collective undertaking that involves the nation and the Bangsamoro government, the LGUs, civil society and the security sector, and the international development partner.

On the other hand, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo, Jr., said the Marcos administration will continue to support the initiatives that will bring down the level of armed violence in the country.

“In this country, we have seen the devastating impact of armed conflict and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. This threatens not just our security but also our social, economic, and political stability. However, true security goes beyond mere defense. It requires a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of conflicts, violence and inequality,” he said.

The ASPIRE initiative will cover targeted vulnerable communities to address the issue of sporadic conflicts caused by the use of private small arms and light weapons (SALWs). Basileños hope that with the ASPIRE program, there is hope for a future where peace, security, and development reigns in Basilan and throughout Mindanao. (RVC/NDR-PIA Basilan)

About the Author

Nilda Delos Reyes

Information Officer II

Region 9

Currently the Information Center Manager of Basilan Infocenter

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