Saturday, March 19, 2016

Japan pours in Php23 M for development projects in Maguindanao, other conflict-hit areas

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 18): Japan  pours in Php23 M for development  projects in Maguindanao, other conflict-hit areas

Five  cooperatives  in   Mindanao  are set  to  receive Php 23 million  worth of  grants   from the  Japanese  government, according to the  Office of the Presidential  Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

In a press  release  sent to Philippine Information Agency  12, OPAPP  reported that Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa signed grant contracts for  development  projects  for development projects that  will be implemented in  conflict-affected  areas.

These projects will be  carried  out  through  the  Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security projects (GGP) under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) program.

Recipients include the  following  organizations: Lower Riverside Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Lanao Intercultural Convergence for Development and Peace, Inc. (LICDPI), Al-Amanah Humanitarian and Development Services, Inc., Philam Foundation, Inc.; and Mindanao Children’s Library Foundation, Inc. (MCL).

The newly signed projects will be implemented in the municipalities of Ampatuan, Maguindanao; Lanao del Norte; Al Ashaire Academy in Cotabato City; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur and Kalbugan Elementary School in Pikit, North Cotabato.

The contract signing was held at the Al Nor Suites and was hosted by the OPAPP. It was witnessed by representatives of the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations High Commission on Refugees , officials of the City Government of Cotabato, civil society organizations, local media, students, and other members of the academe.

Government of the Philippines negotiating panel member and former Department of Agriculture secretary Senen Bacani said that “much is to be credited to the Government of Japan and its people" with regard the success of the Bangsamoro peace process.

He also highlighted that Japan had always been one of the strongest supporters of the peace process in the international stage since it started.

J-BIRD has been contributing to the development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao (CAAM) since December 2006.

From FY 2006-2014,  some 79 projects in the Philippines were funded under the GGP amounting to USD6,664,893.00 (Php315,282,763.37).

The projects include construction or rehabilitation of schools, training centers, water supply systems and health centers, and provisions for post-harvest facilities and equipment.

Japan is a member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the International Contact Group (ICG) -- mechanisms that ensure the faithful adherence of both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the signed documents.

 Bacani described  the  grant  contract  signing  as “invaluable to the Bangsamoro peace process.”

“Efforts such as this, both initiated by the Philippine government and in its local and international peace partners, are sources of light against the darkness of injustice and bigotry, of hope, that we can realize our dreams of a Filipino nation united and progressive,” said Bacani.

He  also  challenged the  aid  recipients to  use the  projects to their  full potential.

“These grants come with responsibility – a responsibility not to Japan or the Philippine government but to your fellow Bangsamoro. Use these to improve your communities and to further strengthen the ties that bind you together,” Bacani reminded the  beneficiary organizations.

“These projects, through your hands, must bear fruits, so that more will benefit from them. Peace and development can only be achieved if we work hand in hand and are looking toward the same direction,” he addws.

Ambassador Ishikawa, meanwhile, assured the Bangsamoro people that Japan would continue to work hand-in-hand with all the stakeholders to support the social and economic development in Mindanao through development assistance such as the J-BIRD project.

“I would like to close my remarks by wishing you lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao. I hope the five (5) projects signed today will be steadily implemented and make substantial contribution to your goal,” the Japanese ambassador  said.

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