Japan aid agency pushes Mindanao development plan without BBL
MANILA — The Japanese government remains committed to and supportive of the peace process in Mindanao even as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL is deemed “doomed to uncertainty,” aid agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has assured the Philippines.
JICA and the Bangsamoro Development Agency are nearing completion of the proposed Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) 2, the medium-to-long-term plan that will guide development in the war-torn region, according to JICA.
JICA said 26 anchor projects spanning socio-economic sectors have been set for roll-out to lift the Bangsamoro people out of poverty by 2028. The BDP 2’s peace and development projects aim to reduce poverty in just over a decade, instead of 50 years in previous projections.
In a seminar on BDP 2 Monday, JICA chief representative Noriaki Niwa said that even without the BBL, the agency has been and would remain “committed to support peace and development in Mindanao.”
Niwa said in a statement that JICA “assures strong support and committed assistance” regardless of the outcome of the peace process in the region.
“Through the BDP 2, we look forward to continue working closely with the Philippine government, stakeholders, and other development partners in realizing balanced and equitable development for all the people of Mindanao,” Niwa added.
JICA said BDP 2 was expanded “to act as useful reference or guide for the future development undertaking not just in the proposed Bangsamoro area but also in other regions in Mindanao.”
Under BDP 2, the anchor projects identified by JICA and BDA were as follows: support for agricultural cooperatives; road rehabilitation and upgrading; ports and airport improvement; Greater Cotabato City urban infrastructure; communal irrigation; economic corridor development; economic zones; as well as abaca, coco coir and sugar industrial cluster development.
Also among the anchor BDP 2 initiatives were agri-based projects (such as goat farming and mixed field crop production); seed production center; halal industry promotion; open market; cold chain facilities; community-based forest and coastal management; mini hydropower development; and Mindanao river basin integrated watershed as well as flood management projects, Jica said.
These specific projects were derived from BDP 2’s 16 general programs aligned with the development agenda of “broad-based inclusive growth, pump-priming, alternative socio-economy, and enhanced resources management initiatives to ensure inclusive development in Bangsamoro,” JICA said.
If fully implemented, the BDP would create about 550,000 additional jobs by 2022, while the region’s economy could grow as fast as 7.4 percent annually, the Japanese aid agency said last year.
A 2005 study of the Human Development Network linked the underdevelopment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the long history of armed conflict in the area. According to the report, the war in Mindanao costs around P5 billion to P7.5 billion annually, which could have been instead used to fund development projects in the ARMM.
The poverty incidence in ARMM was at 55.8 percent in 2012—much higher than the national average of 25.2 percent and 39.1 percent for the whole of Mindanao, Philippine Statistics Authority data showed.
The National Economic and Development Authority has said that while the Bangsamoro entity awaits its formal establishment, P225.7 billion worth of funding is needed to reduce poverty among residents as well as jumpstart the economy of what remains as one of the country’s poorest regions.
In May 2015, the private sector as well as multilateral lenders said they were ready to pour investments worth about $366 million or over P16.3 billion in Mindanao’s conflict areas despite delays in the passage of the BBL.
The BBL has been suffering from delays due to questions over its constitutionality as well as the clash on Jan. 25, 2015, between the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force and Moro rebels in Maguindanao that led to the “massacre” of 44 SAF commandos. SFM
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