Politics Plus is currently collaborating with Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO) on their first contract working with Parliamentarians on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. NI-CO is a not for profit public body dedicated to the pursuit of building efficient, accountable and sustainable public sector institutions capable of managing donor aid effectively and implementing positive change.
The southern Philippines has long been beset by conflict. On 27 March 2014, following two decades of negotiations, a comprehensive peace deal was reached between the government of the Philippines and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The agreement provides for a new autonomous region within the country, known as Bangsamoro. Many both within the Philippines and beyond are hopeful that this deal will lead to the permanent cessation of decades of fighting.
Politics Plus and NI-CO have been engaged to deliver a project which will strengthen democracy in Mindanao and facilitate the transition to a new Bangsamoro Parliament in 2016. From 31 October to 4 November 2015, a delegation from Politics Plus and NI-CO visited Mindanao to meet with Parliamentarians and leading community figures. The group included Gareth McGrath, Executive Director of Politics Plus, Dawn Purvis, a community activist and former MLA and Graeme McCammon, Chief Executive of NI-CO.
Over the course of the visit, the delegation met with members of the Regional Legislative Assembly and Secretariat. They used this opportunity to share their experience of parliamentary processes and discuss best practice with the aim of enhancing the capacity and credibility of the nascent political institutions and building a professional cadre of elected Members and an effective legislative secratariat.