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PIA Press Release

More villages in ARMM to benefit from new WB fund

By Ali G. Macabalang

Cotabato City (5 March) -- At least 596 war-affected barangays in the Autonomous Region in Muslim are eyed as beneficiaries in a $30-million fund sought from the World Bank (WB) to bankroll a three-year extension in ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP) efforts.

ASFP officials made this announcement Thursday as they corrected an earlier report, which erroneously stated that the WB has already approved the fund.

"It was actually the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that recently approved the fund request from the WB. The bank has yet to decide on the request, although we anticipate its positive action," ASFP information specialist Irene Fernandez Gonzales said.

In a press briefing here last month, ASFP Project Manager Nasser Sinarimbo urged for public cooperation in their project implementation, stressing that the national government and WB have earmarked the loan for ARMM alone this time.

"The fund is a loan and all Filipinos are supposed to pay it back. We have to see to it that every penny of it is spent religiously in response to the trust the national government endows us," Sinarimbo told newsmen.

The WB additional financing, which is about P1.41-billion, will "help boost the parallel efforts of the regional and national government to develop the ARMM communities affected by conflict," Gonzales said.

It will run for three years with two components: The community development assistance (CDA) and the institutional strengthening and governance (ISG), she said.

The ASFP is "adopting the community demand-driven (CDD) approach in its implementation of WB-funded projects in ARMM areas such as the 596 more barangays identified as beneficiaries," Gonzales added.

Foreign institutions have been assisting the ASFP, and as of December 2009, the CDA component has completed 1,661 community-based infrastructure subprojects out of 1,723 target units.

The CDA component has turned over 1,370 subprojects to proponent local government units (barangay and municipal levels) and line agencies within the ARMM, it was learned.

The ASFP, under its strategic regional infrastructure (SRI) component, has completed 13 subprojects, which included information and communication technology community research centers for district hospitals and ports in the five ARMM component provinces, Gonzales said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also assists the ASFP, through which it has completed three of seven SRI projects that are slated for turnover to recipient hospitals in ARMM, she said.

ASFP projects are also assisted by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), which has already served more than 3,000 children under various components of the Basic Education Assistance in Mindanao (BEAM), Gonzales said. (BPI/PIA9-BST) [top]

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