THE Philippines secured from the European Union (EU) 60.5 million euro ($67.9 million) worth of grants that will be used for the government’s peace and infrastructure efforts in Mindanao.
In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd signed last June 26 the financing agreement for the Mindanao Peace and Development Program (Minpad)-RISE Mindanao transmitted by the EU to formalize the 35.5-million euro ($40.15 million) grant for the project.
He also signed a separate financing agreement for the 25-million euro ($28.25 million) grant for the Support to Bangsamoro Transition (Subatra) program on July 1.
The Finance department stressed that the grants were aimed to assist the Philippine government “in its ongoing peace-building and development efforts in Mindanao with a focus on strengthening the institutions of the newly formed Bangsamoro autonomous government, creating jobs and improving community-based infrastructure in the island’s agricultural communities.”
Dominguez was quoted as thanking the EU for “its continued support of government efforts to achieve regional growth and financial inclusion, this time by way of a grant that will help MinDA improve infrastructure and create jobs in rural communities. This EU assistance will certainly help the Duterte administration achieve its goal of just and lasting peace and development in southern Philippines, and in supporting genuine autonomy in the Bangsamoro region.” MinDA is the Mindanao Development Authority.
The 149.5-million euro ($167.56 million) Minpad-RISE Mindanao project will be implemented by MinDA and will be co-financed by the EU with the government of Germany for an indicative amount of 4 million euros ($4.48 million) and the World Bank, for an indicative amount of $130 million (115.99 million euros), according to the DoF.
The International Finance Group (IFG) of the DoF was quoted as saying that RISE Mindanao aims to “contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Mindanao” and “improve social cohesion, resiliency of communities, and increased economic opportunities in Mindanao.”
Among the expected outputs of the RISE Mindanao project is the strengthened capacities of agricultural cooperatives “for better service delivery and creation of an enabling environment for the private sector” and the improvement of community-based socio-economic infrastructure providing basic economic and social services to communities, the Finance department underscored.
On the other hand, it said the EU provided 96 percent of the estimated total project cost of 26 million euros (about P1.46 billion or $29.2 million) with its 25-million euro ($28.25 million) grant, while the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID or Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo) committed to cover the remaining 1 million euros ($1.13 million) for the five-year Technical assistance for Support to Bangsamoro Transition (Subatra)
The program is designed to “contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro” and “establish an enabling democratic governance environment for a smooth implementation of the transition in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” the DoF added.
Subatra is also expected to boost the capacity of the Bangsamoro executive branch in formulating and implementing transitional policies, and strengthen the BARMM Parliament’s ability to exercise its legislative, oversight and representation functions during the transition.
Improving the capacity of BARMM’s multifaceted Bangsamoro Justice System to adjudicate legislation that are aligned with international human rights standards and enhancing the role of civil society in contributing to a peaceful transition in the autonomous region are also among the expected outputs of the program.
The Finance department emphasized the EU is a major contributor to the Mindanao Trust Fund for Reconstruction and Development, a multi-donor grant facility established in 2005 to consolidate international development assistance for the socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities in southern Philippines.