By Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief
DAVAO CITY—The Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-RDP) would hold its closing ceremony on Tuesday, April 18, to signal the end of a decadelong financial support to development efforts in Mindanao while peace negotiations with Moro guerrillas were still being waged.
The advisory from the program announced its assistance spanned the period 2006 to March this year with assistance mainly to small infrastructure in agriculture and highways, reaching P1.4 billion.
“Formed in partnership by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the international community, the MTF-RDP has supported the Bangsamoro peace process,” it said.
From 2006 to 2017, the program “helped improve livelihood and access to services, strengthened social cohesion and built the capacities of over 650,000 Muslims, Christians and Indigenous Peoples in over 315 conflict-affected communities”.
“The program’s P1.4-billion funding produced 573 community infrastructure, livelihood and functional literacy projects. The program also supported the institutionalization of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the MILF, into a leading partner in community-driven development,” it said.
The MTF was a multidonor grant facility established to consolidate international development assistance for the socioeconomic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao, the program said.
“The MTF funds programs and projects that promote economic opportunity, provide access to basic services and build social cohesion to help create stable and secure communities. The MTF also builds capacities of Bangsamoro institutions for development planning and local governance,” it added.
Inaugurated in 2006 the MTF was the longest-running trust fund programming for development in Mindanao, it said. Aside from the MILF’s BDA, the program was provided technical support from Community and Family Services International and Mindanao Land Foundation Inc.
Since 2006 the European Union was the largest contributor, with P1.17 billion ($22 million) to the facility. The other contributors were Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the World Bank
Senior government officials and top-level diplomats and executives of international lending organizations would be attending. They include Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; Mara Warwick, country director of the World Bank; Ambassador Franz Jessen of the European Union; Ambassador John Holmes of Canada; and Richard Rodgers, public and political affairs counsellor of the Australian Embassy.
Also expected to attend are Irene Santiago of the Government Implementing Panel for the Bangsamoro Peace Agreements; Architect Edward Guerra, co-chairman of the Joint Normalization Committee; Dr. Abhoud Lingga, chairman of the MILF Task Force on Camps Transformation; and heads or representatives of 40 people’s organizations across seven regions in Mindanao.