By Francis Wakefield
The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) will continue to provide a socioeconomic boost to fragile communities in the region following an agreement between the government and donor agencies to extend the program for two more years.
The agreement was made by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) led by Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, the World Bank (WB), the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), and international donor partners during the 19th MTF steering committee meeting held Wednesday in this city.
Dureza noted that while most development projects wind down during their closing months, the two-year extension of the MTF means it can scale up its programs up to 2021.
He also expressed his gratitude to the donor community for “staying during challenging times and keeping faith that somehow a final destination could be reached.”
Now on its second phase, the MTF-Reconstruction and Development Program is being carried out in six identified Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps, namely Abubakar-as-Siddique, Omar, Rajamuda, Badre, Bushra, and Bilal.
The peace-building programs include socioeconomic infrastructure projects, alternative learning system, and strengthening of key institutions to capacitate the people for the future Bangsamoro government.
Meanwhile, Dureza said there is a need to update the Joint Needs Assessment of 2005 between the government and the MILF considering the progress that has been made in the peace negotiation table.
It was this document that gave birth to the MTF in 2006, with the WB and BDA as co-chair.
For her part, WB Philippine country director Mara Warwick emphasized the bank’s commitment to bringing peace and development in Mindanao.
“We welcome the opportunity to be able to continue to work with you as it goes forward,” she said.
Warwick also said the coming years are “an exciting period” with a lot of work that needs to be done.