Aussie aid exec: Aid for Mindanao hinges on fleshing out ‘Framework Agreement’

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President Benigno Aquino III gives a miniature figurine to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MIIL) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim before the historic signing of the framework agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF at the Malacanang Presidential Palace last Oct. 15. AP FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The coming in of more international aid for the development of Mindanao hinges on the fleshing out of the Framework Agreement recently signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Australian aid executive said.

“As the annexes of the agreement become clearer, so are the opportunities for us trying to find ways to assist the Philippine government,” said Geoff King, counselor in the Philippines for the Australian Aid for International Development (AusAid).

Speaking to reporters last Wednesday during the awarding of some P20 million in grants to 11 Philippine-Australian Community Assistance Program (Pacap) projects in Mindanao and the Visayas here, King said donor countries such as Australia wanted to see what the agreement really was all about so they would know in what areas they could really help.

“Until we really know what the details are, we will have to wait,” he said.

But King said he could already envision that the new agreement would usher in “more opportunities” for aid, in the case of education for example.

He said Australia was “thrilled to see the signing of the framework, a watershed moment for the Philippines.”

King said this early, AusAid was looking forward to building more schools and training more teachers in areas previously affected by conflict in Mindanao.

Currently, AusAid focuses on boosting education in Mindanao and is considered one of the single largest donors to the Philippines, with some P5.5 billion in grants for 2012 and 2013.

“We are trying to integrate schools program, working to build schools, train teachers and providing structures for schools; we are already working in the area,” King said.

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