Monday, 26 March 2012 11:34
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Thursday lauded the Government of Japan’s “steadfast accompaniment” to the Philippine peace process, “both on the peace table and on the ground.”
“Japan has been our faithful companion in the peace process. They have stayed with us through the most trying times and with a readiness to wager in our ability as a people to find the peace that we really want and desire,” she said during the signing of eight grant contracts under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) held at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) headquarters in Pasig City.
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe signed the contracts of various development projects worth US$ 824,653 (P 34 million) funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
The projects, which will be implemented in conflict-affected communities in Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato and Maguindanao, include construction of post-harvest facilities and agricultural training center; purchase of agricultural equipment; construction and repair of school buildings; installation of hospital equipment, among others.
J-BIRD was launched in December 2006 as Japan’s commitment to assist development in war-torn areas in Mindanao.
“Since then, the total amount of assistance of J-BIRD through the Japanese ODA (official development assistance) mechanism has reached P6 billion. This has touched the lives of Mindanaoans in concrete ways -- access to water, roads, school buildings, health centers, shelter for the displaced, food for the hungry,” underlined Deles.
Urabe, in his message, stressed that advancing human security is key to peace and prosperity. “It is not the money. What is important is for individuals (in Mindanao) to achieve their full potentials,” he stated.
The Japanese Ambassador also conveyed that promoting peace and development in Mindanao will contribute and benefit the whole Philippines, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia.
Aside from providing development aid, Japan has been “helping facilitate the substantive and procedural aspects of the peace talks and in keeping the peace on the ground” as member of both the International Contact Group and the International Monitoring Team, which are part of the security components of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
J-BIRD aims to enable the people in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao or CAAM to enjoy the “dividends of peace” through the Japanese ODA on the basis of “human security principles.”
J-BIRD projects are carried out in coordination with concerned organizations including OPAPP, government agencies, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Local Government Units (LGUs) and Bangsamoro Development Agency. The ceasefire mechanisms of the GPH-MILF peace process, namely the joint Coordination Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities respectively of the GPH and the MILF, as well as the International Monitoring Team (IMT) are partners to the J-BIRD initiatives in communities.
Other OPAPP officials who attended the J-BIRD grant signing were Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo, USec. Gettie Sandoval and Assistant Secretary Howard Cafugauan. Representatives of LGU recipients who were likewise present include Alamada Mayor Bartolome Lataza Jr., Magpet Mayor Efren Piñol, Sultan sa Barongis Mayor Datu Allandatu Angas, and Wao Mayor Elvino Balicao Jr. Representing the civil society recipients, on the other hand, were Cosain Madale, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Resources Management Inc.; Johnny Balawag, president of the Muslim Youth Religious Organization, Inc.; and Dr. Ibrahim Pangato Jr., medical specialist of the Cotabato Sanitarium. #
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