Featured image shows JICA President Akihiko Tanaka talks to school children at a school in Barangay Kibleg, Upi, Maguindanao del Norte. (Credit: JICA)
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JICA chief considers new cooperation to boost Bangsamoro’s peace and development
COTABATO CITY — As part of his official visit to the Philippines, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Akihiko Tanaka delivered a speech before the members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament on January 18th, reassuring JICA’s continuing support to peace and development process in the Bangsamoro.
He is the first foreign official to deliver a message at the BTA Parliament since its establishment. The Parliament is the legislative body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
His visit coincided with the 4th Anniversary of the Bangsamoro Foundation Day (BFD) to be celebrated on January 21-27. He also met with BARMM officials led by Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Omar Yasser C. Sema, and other members from the BTA.
“JICA has been committed to peace and development process in Mindanao for decades. We welcome the latest development efforts in the region, which is also essential to the prosperity of the entire Philippines,” Tanaka said during his speech mentioned at the Parliament. He lauded the BTA’s effort to build constructive relationship with the Philippine government and local government units. Further, he recognized the efforts of the BTA to build a foundation for good governance including the drafting of the Electoral Code, Local Government Code, and Revenue Code.
“JICA extends our utmost respect to all your actions to represent the voices of your diverse people, and to your strong commitment for the peaceful future of the region,” he said in his speech.
The Parliament presented two adopted resolutions to Tanaka and to JICA as a whole, recognizing, appreciating and commending him and JICA for agency’s proactive collaboration with the region.
This is the Tanaka’s fifth official visit to the Philippines, third time in Mindanao. During his first term as JICA president from 2012 to 2015, he attended the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at Malacañang Palace March 27, 2014.
JICA still a leader among Philippine international partners
For his visit this time, the JICA president also had an intensive high-level discussion meeting with BTA ministers headed by Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The high-level discussion was attended by ministers of Public Works; Interior and Local Government; Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform; Trade, Investments and Tourism; Finance, Budget and Management; Environment, Natural Resources and Energy; and the director-general of the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDB) for a broad exchange of views based on the new Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) which was recently compiled by the BTA.
In addition, Tanaka greeted students at Kibleg Elementary School in Upi, Maguindanao del Norte, for the second time, where a two-classroom building was constructed under JICA’s Quick Impact Project (QIP) framework. He also went to a vegetable demonstration farm in Barangay Kibleg, a project supported by JICA’s Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CDPB).
Tanaka also assured that since the onslaught of Typhoon Paeng in Mindanao in 2022, JICA is mulling new areas of further cooperation that will boost disaster and climate change resiliency in Mindanao.
JICA also plans to extend an invitation to the BTA Parliament members for a study visit in Japan. “We hope that sharing Japan’s experiences will be of great help to the BTA Parliament to build a better democratic system in the region,” Tanaka added.
Today, JICA continues to be a leader among Philippine international partners, supporting the Bangsamoro peace and development. Its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Bangsamoro includes capacity development, livelihood improvement, industry development and construction of socioeconomic infrastructure to promote inclusive, sustainable and resilient quality growth in the region. (✓) — (News Release)