Canada seeks to boost peace efforts, adds 40-million pesos to Mindanao Trust Fund

May. 04, 2007

DAVAO CITY Driven by it’s commitment to support peace and development
efforts in Mindanao, the Canadian government, through the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA), has recently provided an additional
P40 million to the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF), further boosting the
implementation of community-driven development for the conflict-affected and
vulnerable areas.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Sutherland led the ceremonial
signing of a grant agreement here last week for Canada’s additional support
for the Phase I the Mindanao Trust Fund for Reconstruction and Development
Program (MTF-RDP), along with Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza,
World Bank Mindanao coordinator Mary Judd, Bangsamoro Development Agency
(BDA) executive director and MTF-RDP1 Project Manager, Dr. Danda N. Juanday.

Ambassador Sutherland emphasized that Canada’s contribution to the MTF is
anchored on its country strategy to facilitate development and establish a
stronger constituency for peace, while working with local governments and
small businesses. Over 60 percent of Canada’s country targets are directed
to Mindanao, Sutherland noted.

“With development aid, we can show what can happen when peace starts to
unfold. And right now, more and more (people) look at projects that support
an environment conducive for peace,” Sutherland said, adding that, “it is
important to work with people in Mindanao, so that they can promote their
own development.”

Last year, Canada made an initial contribution of P30 million during the
launch of the MTF in Cotabato City. Other bilateral donors to the fund
include Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.

At present, the MTF provides funding support to the capacity-building of the
BDA, the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and
tasked to determine, lead and manage relief, reconstruction and development
projects in conflict-affected areas. The BDA also receives assistance and
admits new elements in the first phase, such as mainstreaming gender in
peace-building work, community-level emergency response, advocacy campaigns,
and enhanced coordination with other projects in the conflict

“This event highlights the quiet and more sustainable part of peace
building. While this (added support of CIDA to the MTF) is certainly not as
dramatic as the ceasefire agreement, this is good news that we should focus
on,” Sec. Dureza said.

At the signing ceremony, Dr. Juanday presented recent updates on activities
undertaken by the BDA, particularly on MTF-RDP1 implementation, which mostly
involve the construction of projects such as the Community Hall & Training
Center, Coco Pugon, Warehouse, Tire Path and Solar Drier (2 units), in pilot
areas like Pacalundo, Baloi, Lanao Del Norte; Sungayan, Dinas, Zamboanga Del
Norte; Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan; Sapad, Matanog, Maguindanao; Lucatan,
Tarragona, Davao Oriental; and Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

The two-phase MTF is administered by the World Bank, with the first phase
focusing on capacity building and implementation of reconstruction and
development projects in conflict-affected areas while the peace process is
in progress. The second phase is intended to support full-scale
reconstruction programs once a peace agreement has been signed.

“”Rather than wait for the peace agreement to finally take place, we believe
that the MTF is the right way to do it, and CIDA’s additional support to the
MTF is a voice of confidence to the peace and development efforts for
Mindanao,” said World Bank’s Mary Judd. MEDCo

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