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PIA Press Release

Canada signs commitment to Mindanao Trust Fund

by Prix D Banzon

Davao City (27 April) -- The Government of Canada has fulfilled its commitment as it inked on Thursday in Davao City the first phase of their administrative agreement to the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF).

Canadian Ambassador H.E. Peter Sutherland led the signing ceremony for the Canadian government with the Philippine government representative by Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process at The Marco Polo Hotel yesterday, April 26, 2007.

The government of Canada pledged an additional P40 million (Cad$1 million) to the MTF in response to the call of the Philippine government for continued support to peace and development efforts in Mindanao while the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are on-going.

Ambassador Sutherland said there coming in at the Phase I of MTF is to prepare stakeholders through capability building even as he said that they are also in support to small businesses because local government units (LGUs)would be able to fulfill its mandate if they have the needed resources.

He said LGUs can generate revenues through small businesses.

"We have seen a close link between the LGUs and small businesses although economic development won't happen without peace and order," he said.

Canada made an initial contribution of P30 million during the launch of MTF in Cotabato City last March 2006. Other bilateral donors to the fund included the countries of Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.

The two-phase MTF is administered by the World Bank, with the first phase focusing on capability building and implementation of reconstruction and development projects in conflict affected areas while the peace process is in progress. The second phase is intended to support full-scale reconstruction programs once a peace agreement has been signed.

World Bank Mindanao Coordinator Mary Judd who was present during the ceremonial signing said that with the stakeholders showing interest that they need to know beforehand how to run the program they came up with a revision and allowed other donors to come in even before the peace agreement is signed.

She noted in particular how the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) has been moving favorably on the ground.

Dr. Danda Juanday, executive director of BDA reported that it had piloted projects in Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Basilan, Maguindanao, Davao Oriental and Sultan Kudarat.

He said the municipalities within the identified provinces are hard to reach areas but they were able to mobilize the people in community to put up the projects on facilities geared towards learning livelihood fund security.

He also said that selection of areas as recipient of projects are based on the poverty level, a conflict affected area, security, and accessibility.

"The projects were undertaken in cooperation of the MILF for them to help protect the project and ensure that it (project) is safe," he said.

He said there are about 150 municipalities identified to be part of the program and hopefully they would increase the number this year.

BDA he said is manned by pool of volunteers and has no existing partnership with the Southern Philippine Development Authority.

He said they wanted to sustain the projects however, if the peace process fails then BDA will be extinguished. (PIA XI) [top]

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