Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Japan reiterates support to peace process; commits to spur development ‎in Bangsamoro

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): Japan reiterates support to peace process; commits to spur development ‎in Bangsamoro

In a recent meeting with officials of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated Japan’s resolute commitment to peace and development in Mindanao and to the Bangsamoro in particular.

The Philippines was represented by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary and GPH peace panel member Yasmin Busran-Lao and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez. Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, on the other hand, was also at the meeting to represent the MILF.

During the meeting, Kishida reaffirmed “Japan’s resolve to assist the Bangsamoro [peace] process and to help spur development in the area to be covered by the new political entity, through initiatives such as J-BIRD Phase II as pledged by no less than PM Shinzo Abe during his Summit Meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III in Tokyo last 4 June.”

J-BIRD, or Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development, was launched in 2006 with the objective of enabling the people and communities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its surrounding areas to enjoy peace dividends. Since its launch, the aid program has contributed P300 million into education, health, social-services, and agriculture among others.

A new grant contract for J-BIRD has just been signed in March this year with a list of projects that includes the provision of pre and postharvest facilities for the farmers of Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat; the provision of medical equipment and fixtures for the delivery room of the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center; the construction of an outpatient building of rural health unit in Vincenzo Sagun; the construction of Classrooms for Dumadalig Integrated School in Tantangan, South Cotabato; the acquisition of two units of light hauling vehicles for the Rizal Molave Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Zamboanga del Sur; the construction of classrooms for Manglicmot High School in Alamada, North Cotabato; and the construction of classrooms for Patadon Elementary School in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato.

Aside from extending financial and development support, Japan also assists in the Bangsamoro peace process by being a member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the International Contact Group (ICG). It would also be remembered that the country hosted the first meeting between President Aquino and Al Haj Murad in 2011.

Lao extended her gratitude to Japan, saying international support help propel forward the Bangsamoro peace process. “We thank the Japanese government for its solid support for the Bangsamoro peace process. We believe the peace process gains strength from such support from the international community, as it shows our neighbors’ understanding of our own peoples’ yearning for peace and development.”

Kishida also impressed on the GPH and the MILF the need to preserve the gains of the peace process, adding that the two should “exercise leadership to sustain the ongoing transition toward the establishment of the Bangsamoro.”

The GPH peace panel member also assured the Japanese government that “despite the delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), we assure our foreign partners of our government’s full commitment to pursue the peace process till we achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.”


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