World Bank, foreign donors eye fresh funds for peace initiatives in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY-- The World Bank (WB) and other foreign donors are open to pour fresh funds to further support the government's peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

"We are planning new World Bank-supported programs for Mindanao to sustain efforts toward attaining peace and development (in the island)," said World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick during the closing of the 11-year-old Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP) held at the SM Convention Center on Tuesday.

The MTF is a multi-donor grant facility established to consolidate international development assistance for the socioeconomic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao. It partners with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, with technical support from Community and Family Services International and Mindanao Land Foundation, Incorporated.

Warwick said a similar program is being finalized by the government that would also cover the communist revolutionaries.

Since 2006, the MTF completed 573 community-driven projects benefitting 650,000 people in 315 conflict-affected communities.

The European Union is the biggest contributor to the MTF, providing PHP1.17 billion to the PHP1.4 billion total trust fund.

During the press conference, Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of Delegation of the European Union, said they are closely monitoring the peace process, which they regard as the "most promising area" of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

Jessen cited the President's tremendous efforts to bring peace in Mindanao, particularly in Bangsamoro areas, as well as his stance to forge an agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Jessen said the EU is willing to provide fresh funds to support peace initiatives in the country.

"The European Union will continue to support programs such as these (provided by MTF) to help bring lasting peace and development in Mindanao," he said.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes said they are satisfied with the work of the MTF and looks forward to work closely again with the Philippine government.

Holmes said they are now in the process of reviewing international assistance with special focus on Mindanao.

Source: Philippines News Agency