$5.3-M grant to create jobs in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines - Just in time for Christmas, a $5.251 million grant has been approved to help create small jobs and businesses in war-torn Mindanao communities.
The grant which will be made to the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) will be injected into an additional 65 villages in 21 conflict-affected towns of Mindanao, according to a statement released by the World Bank on Christmas Eve.
Part of the grant will be channeled towards providing skills training meant to help people secure steady employment.
It also coincides with relief and rehabilitation efforts by government and other international agencies in Mindanao directed at victims of Typhoon Pablo. The super typhoon left over 1,000 dead and hundreds of others missing.
MTF, which was created in 2006 by the World Bank and Development and development partners, has already finished 240 reconstruction and development projects, including classrooms, health stations, water supply systems, core shelters and community centers in 154 conflict-ridden communities in 75 municipalities across Mindanao.
This is badly needed help as communities that have struggled with a history of violence are also now still trying to recover from a deadly natural disaster.
The economic assistance comes at a crucial time when the region has a real chance of turning the corner after the signing of a peace deal betweent the government and Muslim rebels, explained World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi.
Mindanao is imbued with rich natural resources. It is known as the land of promise but has failed to deliver on those promises in real economic terms because it has been held back by chronic violence.
However in October the government finally signed a peace agreement with the country's largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, which create a new political entity to govern Muslim dominated areas of Mindanao, is expected to make the region more peaceful and by correlation, more prosperous.
"This additional funding means that while the Government and the MILF flesh out the details of the Framework Agreement on the negotiating table, the program will continue to deliver much needed services to conflict-affected communities,” said the World Bank country director.
Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) explained that more economically secure citizens would be less prone to violence. "The additional financing for the MTF will… also strengthen the constituency for peace and citizen's participation on the ground," she said in a statement. - Rappler.com