EU, UNDP release ₧63 million to boost Mindanao peace effort
SOME P63 million (€1.2 million) was released by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Wednesday to help sustain the suspended peace efforts in Mindanao.
The EU- UNDP contribution is the last of a package of five projects, totalling an amount of P288 million (€ 5.5 million) approved by the EU in August last year.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen and UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra presented the “Support Peace-Bangsamoro Project” at a gathering at the Yuchengco Dela Salle University in Makati City.
The project will be implemented from 2016 to mid-2017.
Jessen said the money would be used to support capacity-building for local leaders and other stakeholders on public administration and parliamentary processes.
“It will strengthen the constituency for peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro, including establishing partnerships with local government units and civil society organizations.”
“It will develop platforms that will enable the youth and women to actively engage in peacebuilding, and provide support to the Third Party Monitoring of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” he added.
Mitra said the new administra- tion that would be in place following the proclamation of a new set of officials, starting with the President in June this year, would be face with a challenge.
“But then we have to see what is the political will. Will the person be able to bring Congress on board? Will the Senate vote for a legislation which really gives meaning to the comprehensive agreement?” Mitra asked.
He answered his own question by saying that those who believe in the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) have a deep constituency, especially those who are from Mindanao, because they understand the cost of having a basic framework.
“If you look at the human development index for the Philippines, one reason that it does not improve further is because you have a part of Philippines that is still riddled with poverty and where the social conditions are not appropriate for a middle income country,” Mitra said.
“So while you have this drag for the rest of the country, it’s a problem people in Mindanao understand,” he added.
Mitra said the challenge now is for the residents of Metro Manila and those living in the enclave of Makati City to really see the association between what happens in Mindanao and national progress.
“And that really is a challenge for the next president.”
Mitra said he is glad that from what he heard coming from presiden- tial candidates that they are all aware about the issues surrounding the BBL and have shown a positive attitude toward its passage.
“I think we’ve heard from all presidential candidates that this is an important issue, but the nature of the debate does not allow how they will advance the issue,” he said.
He added the difficulty arises because the debate allows each candidate only a brief time to expound on every subject.
He added, however, that the new administration would have the time to really resolve the BBL problem because the history of conflict in Mindanao had cost so much to the economy and to the people’s lives.
“The challenge is to return to path of resolution, which is sustained peace,” Mitra added.
He said the EU and the UNDP’s role is to bring the international experience of autonomous region within the framework of unitary states, and the Philippines is not the only country confronting that situation.
“Our role is to make sure that all the stakeholders have a good understanding of the options and the issues but it is fundamentally a Filipino process.”
“It’s not for international organizations to do with these issues but to really facilitate knowledge-based, to make informed decisions about how to make this move forward,” Mitra added.