Short link: https://wp.me/paaccn-lyC
MANILA — JICA Philippines Office Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema has visited Cotabato City for a series of courtesy meetings with Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim and other BARMM officials.
The JICA official’s meetings on August 26, 2022 included with Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE). Iqbal is also co-chair of the Peace Implementing Panels with the Philippine government, to discuss the wide-range cooperation between JICA and BARMM.
The JICA official’s visit marked the first time he traveled to Cotabato City, the seat of the Bangsamoro Government, since he assumed the leadership of the JICA Philippines Office in March 2022. A parliamentary in form, the BARMM is being governed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) headed by Ebrahim, the chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), until the transition ends in 2025.
BARMM, a new political entity created out of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) through the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), is comprised of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi City, as well as the Special Geographic Area (SGA). The SGA is made up of 63 barangays or villages in North Cotabato that voted to be under the Bangsamoro government’s jurisdiction in a plebiscite in January and February 2019.
During the courtesy meetings, Chief Representative Sakamoto congratulated the members of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority on their recent appointment at the oath-taking ceremony at the Malacañang Palace. Likewise, he also commended President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s strong commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process during the said event.
Related story: JICA Mission Team in Bangsamoro region visit
Moreover, Sakamoto reiterated the long-standing and steady cooperation of JICA to the Philippines, particularly on the achievement of peace and development in Mindanao. He highlighted that Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been anchored on the three (3) important pillars, such as (1) High Quality Growth focusing on sustainability, resilience and inclusiveness, (2) Human Security on the principle of “no-one-left-behind” and (3) Peace and Development in Mindanao.
Based on these pillars, Sakamoto had committed JICA’s tireless support to the Bangsamoro government and people with JICA’s full cooperation to improve their lives through realizing decent works, accessible job opportunities and adequate income among others. With this, the Bangsamoro people can enjoy the dividends of peace and can rely on the Bangsamoro government, which can lead to the stability and prosperity in BARMM and the entire Philippines.
“JICA has a long history of various proactive support to the economic growth, basic public service delivery and improvement on governance in BARMM. JICA has supported the infrastructure development such as road network improvement, industrial and agricultural development, and capacity development of Bangsamoro Executive Branch offices for strategic planning and budgeting process. All that we do for BARMM reflect the strong aspiration of JICA, not just to maintain but also to expand the cooperation for a better future of the Bangsamoro people, and the entire Philippines” Sakamoto emphasized.
The JICA Philippines official also pointed out the effectiveness and importance of learning the history of Japan’s modernization, where Bangsamoro people can obtain important secrets and lessons from the rapid growth of Japan.
JICA’s support has been further strengthened under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) from 2006.
JICA pours in more funds for Bangsamoro project
In this context, Sakamoto highlighted JICA’s two new projects supporting the Normalization Process under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which refers to the transformation of armed struggle to peaceful political participation, citizenship, and livelihood.
Among them, JICA is about to launch a new technical cooperation project “Socio-Economic Assistance for Bangsamoro Normalization Process” for smooth and effective implementation of livelihood skills training for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities by strengthening the coordination and implementation capacity of MBHTE-Technical Education and Skills Development-BARMM.
A 1.8 billion-Japanese yen grant project entitled “Programme for the Urgent Improvement of
Socioeconomic Infrastructure in Bangsamoro Region” aims to further promote the peace process and stabilize the society in BARMM through urgent reconstruction of the Provincial/City Manpower and Development Center (PCMD) in Marawi City, development of the Regional Manpower Training Centers in the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat and Basilan, and improvement of farm-to-market roads in some barangays in conflict-affected areas.
Chief Minister Ebrahim and Minister Iqbal expressed their utmost gratitude to the Japanese Government and JICA for continuously expanding its support to the Bangsamoro government. They conveyed that these new projects would be of great help to improve the lives of people and the Normalization track which is quite lagging behind compared with the political track that is already established.
These projects will address the needs of the ex-combatants and improve the state of their livelihood.
In addition to the JICA courtesy meetings, Sakamoto also visited the Technical Education and
Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Regional Manpower Development Center (RMDC), Metro
Cotabato Water District (MCWD), and the candidate sites of the proposed water treatment facility and the road project. (✓)