JICA's Bangsamoro dev't plan to create 550,000 jobs by 2022
MANILA, Philippines – Mindanao can expect the creation of at least 550,000 additional jobs by 2022 as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) turned over its final development plan amid problems in the peace process between the Philippine government and Moro rebels.
An outcome of the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project of JICA in partnership with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) 2 seeks to support the peace building efforts and job creation in areas affected by conflict in the past decades in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Unemployment in the region, meanwhile, is at 3.9% as of April 2016.
Bridging the gap
Years of conflict between the forces of the government and groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) left a huge part of Mindanao in poverty. The region was even ranked as the poorest in the Philippines, according to official data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). (READ: From Marcos to Aquino: The cost of war in Mindanao)
The ARMM, as of the first half of 2015, registered a poverty incidence of 59%. The latest figure is at least 6% higher than 2012’s 52.9%.
One of the reasons for the dire figure is the largely untapped natural resources due to dangers brought about by conflict. (READ: Mindanao’s power, infra problems scare investors away - envoy)
The plan – which includes “broad-based inclusive strategies, pump-priming initiatives, socio-economic promotion, and resource management activities” –seeks to achieve to inclusive growth in the region, according to JICA.
“JICA shares the Philippines’ collective vision for just and lasting peace and inclusive development in Mindanao,” said JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito.
“When carried out, the BDP will help bridge the poverty gap and enhance the connectivity of Mindanao with other regions,” he added.
The development blueprint identified 27 anchor projects and 54 proposed projects that can help boost Mindanao’s economy, including agriculture, agro-industry, fishery, and logistics infrastructures such as ports and airports.
The BDP 2 is the second phase of an earlier development plan that was supposed to be for the transition period towards the eventual establishment of the Bangsamoro government.
In 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed by then President Benigno Aquino III after 17 years of negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Based on the CAB, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) outlines mechanisms and interventions to ensure long-lasting peace in the ARMM. (INFOGRAPHIC: The Bangsamoro peace deal at a glance)
However, the passage of the BBL has been halted notably after the Mamasapano clash between government forces and Moro rebels which killed at least 65 people in 2015.
In the face of setbacks towards long-lasting peace in the region, JICA remains optimistic that the peace process will continue.
“We are optimistic that the peace process in Mindanao will be sustained despite the challenges,” Ito emphasized.
The MILF, meanwhile, hailed the development plan and assured support from the rebels’ side.
“Despite the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the MILF is supporting the implementation of selected projects under the BDP particularly in core territories hardest hit by poverty,” MILF Chairperson Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said. – Rappler.com
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