EU to provide P275-M peace process aid despite BBL passage woes
Amid woes in passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the European Union (EU) has vowed to continue its support to the peace process in Mindanao.
In a press conference in Makati on Wednesday, EU ambassador Franz Jessen announced that the union will provide the Philippines €5.5 million (P275 million) worth of grants over the next 18 months in support of the peace process for a “smooth transition period.”
“EU is impressed by the fact that the Philippine government’s and the MILF’s (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) commitment to the peace process, despite the delay of the adoption of the BBL, has not changed,” Jessen said, noting that the country’s “firm resolve” to peace has made EU still eager and ready to support political settlement and long-term development in Mindanao.
Jessen is set to visit Mindanao, particularly Cotabato from Dec. 11 to 12, to meet with various stakeholders.
Asked if the grant was the EU’s way of pressuring the government to hasten BBL’s passage, Jessen said it was only the union’s way of encouraging development in the region.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon failed to muster a quorum to tackle the BBL, just after President Benigno Aquino III made his personal appeal to lawmakers to pass the measure. But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte remained confident that the BBL will be passed by January next year, downplaying speculation that it will be as good as dead, as solons will focus on the upcoming elections.
The ambassador noted that the disbursement of funds would not depend on or “non-conditional” to the passage of the BBL in Congress, adding that such grants was part of EU’s economic interest in increasing its presence in the Philippines.
The aid will benefit a program aimed to create conditions for the creation of the Bangsamoro region, conflict mitigation, implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and strengthening of local institutions and political processes, among other areas.
As per EU’s development strategy for the Philippines from 2014 to 2020, Mindanao will also gain access to sustainable energy, job creation, and benefit from the strengthening of the rule of law.
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