December 11, 2018
JICA Philippines Office
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, Magandang umaga.
I am Shinichi Kitaoka, President of JICA.
I am honored to deliver this message for the important Bangsamoro Forum where many of the distinguished stakeholders involved in the Mindanao peace process are in one place. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt congratulations on the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law last July.
After the signing of BOL, there are still more key challenges to be faced, including the ratification of the BOL through a plebiscite in January 2019 and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the Bangsamoro Government.
However, I strongly believe that the untiring efforts of all stakeholders on the peace process will help overcome these challenges and will eventually lead to the realization of the new Bangsamoro Government.
We thank the United Nations in the Philippines and the Embassy of Japan for organizing this Bangsamoro Forum. This event provides a significant space to discuss the critical issues on the plebiscite and ratification of the BOL, transition to the Bangsamoro Government, and Normalization Process; taking into consideration the 10 priorities for the BTA presented by Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim last October.
JICA has been involved in the peace process in Mindanao for about 20 years now. Perhaps not many of you may know, former JICA President Madam Sadako Ogata visited Camp Darapanan in 2006 to discuss the status of the peace process with Chair Murad.
Following Madam Ogata's visit to Camp Darapanan, the Japanese Government sent representatives to the International Monitoring Team based in Cotabato City. We also facilitated the historic meeting between former Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Chair Murad in Tokyo in 2012. Some people say that this historic meeting was the precursor to the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
With our commitment to the peace process, under J-BIRD, which is the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development, JICA has implemented various development cooperation projects in Mindanao. They include the 6-year "Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro" to support the transition to the BTA and the Bangsamoro Government.
Both my predecessor, former JICA president Mr. Akihiko Tanaka and myself had met key stakeholders of the peace process in various occasions to reaffirm our commitment for a lasting peace and development in Mindanao.
JICA's commitment to the peace process is now stronger than ever. We believe that peace and development in Mindanao will result to wider peace and development in the Philippines and, eventually, in the Southeast Asian and East Asian Regions.
I visited Mindanao in 2016. At that time, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a farm-to-market-road. The ceremony was held in a notably radiant mood and I felt strong hope from the local people for peace and stability, the basis for a continuous economic and social activity.
We will continue to assist the transition process by providing support to peace implementing mechanisms such as the Coordination Team for Transition to the Bangsamoro as well as the BTA through a possible project to be commenced next year.
I hope today's workshop will be a fruitful one. I trust that every participant will be more strongly bound with deep trust through honest and intensive discussions for a better Mindanao. Maraming salamat po.