December 16, 2013
Sadako Ogata (right), special advisor to the president, holds her award with President Benigno Aquino III
On December 14th, 2013, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna on Sadako Ogata, special advisor to the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) during a visit to Japan by Aquino. The Order of Sikatuna is one of the highest honors the Republic of the Philippines gives to foreign individuals. This award is recognition of Ogata’s contributions, based on the mutual partnership between the Philippines and Japan, for advocating human security in the Philippines and supporting socio-economic goals through Japanese official development assistance (ODA) with a special focus on the advancement of peace and development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
Ogata thanked the Philippine government for the recognition and mentioned the decoration is to all the people of both countries who were part of JICA’s corporation activities in the Philippines. She added that occasion was an excellent opportunity to confirm the achievements of Japanese cooperation and to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.
Regarding the peace process in Mindanao, she mentioned her hopes for Aquino’s initiatives on the early finalization of a comprehensive agreement and assured implementation of agreed milestones in the peace process for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
Ogata also expressed her deep condolences for the victims of the earthquake in Bohol and Typhoon Yolanda. After conveying her appreciation for the warm support extended by the Philippines at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, she stated that JICA, under initiatives of JICA President Tanaka, will continue to provide development assistance for relief activities in Bohol and Central Visayas, along with seamless assistance for post-disaster rebuilding and recovery.
Reference: Peace process in Mindanao and JICA’s efforts
A framework agreement was signed in October 2012 by peace panels of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The agreement includes milestones toward the establishment of a new autonomous government referred to as “Bangsamoro” in 2016.
Ogata has actively supported the peace process since 2006 when she met with Murad Ibrahim, chairman of MILF in Darapanan, Mindanao, and visited JICA project locations in conflict-affected areas.
Also in 2006, JICA launched its Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) to further contribute to peace building and socio-economic development in Mindanao. Under J-BIRD, JICA has played an active role in Mindanao peace and development through various assistance programs, and has also deployed Japanese experts to the International Monitoring Team, an organization for monitoring the cease-fire agreement between the Government of the Philippines and MILF.