July 8, 2019
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently launched a development cooperation project to build the capacity of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) towards a Bangsamoro government by 2022, and jumpstart economic activities in Mindanao's conflict areas.
The Capacity Development Project for Bangsamoro is part of JICA's commitment to sustainable peace and development in Mindanao, where decades of conflict have deprived its people of economic opportunities. A Philippine Human Development Report in 2005 showed that economic costs of conflict in Mindanao amounted to US$370 million from 1975 to 2002.
"We'd like to focus on building the capacity of the Bangsamoro's human resources during the transition period, and contribute to the improvement of the livelihood so the people in the conflict areas will have the chance to rebuild their lives," said JICA Philippines Chief Representative Yoshio Wada.
The project, which will begin in July 2019 until December 2022, includes strengthening BTA's organizational and institutional capacity and improving the living conditions for the agricultural sector in the region. The latter sought to sustain the gains from a recently concluded JICA initiative in the Bangsamoro Comprehensive Capacity Development Project or CCDP. Under the CCDP, more than 200 trainings were held and more than 6,400 people such as farmers and local officials benefited from the trainings.
BTA Interim Chief Minister Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said, "There are many things to accomplish for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro government so we appreciate the continued assistance of the Government of Japan to the Bangsamoro people. This new project will contribute in promoting good governance and livelihood development in the Bangsamoro region."
JICA added that it would continue to "provide support to peace implementing mechanisms for long-term peace and stability in Mindanao as basis for the region's continuous and social activity".
JICA has been supporting peace and development in Mindanao for more than 20 years. In 2006, JICA launched the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) that implemented about 650 small-scale infrastructure projects for the community. More than 25,000 people were trained in Mindanao's conflict areas. JICA has also recently supported a project boosting the financial inclusion of small enterprises, agriculture cooperatives, and agriculture-related businesses in the Bangsamoro under HARVEST (Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation). Last Tuesday, JICA also signed the loan agreement with the Philippine government worth 202.04 million USD for the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao that will construct and improve approximately 100 kilometers of roads linking the main cities of Mindanao.
In 2018, the Philippines signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). Upon its ratification, BTA was created as interim government in the Bangsamoro for the transition period.