Friday, October 19, 2012

Dev’t forum for Mindanao

The government, meanwhile, is preparing a Philippine Development Forum (PDF) for Mindanao that would serve as a pledging session for lending agencies and donors to aid in the development of the region. Finance Undersecretary Rosalia de Leon said the PDF is slated in January. She also said the Forum would focus on gathering support for former conflict areas in the region, whose development has been crippled by decades of war. “We are still in the preparation stage,” said de Leon, who attended the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Tokyo last week. PDFs lay the groundwork for the government’s partnership with multilateral agencies and lending institutions for various development projects. During these events, multilateral agencies and lending institutions pledge a combination of loans, grants and technical assistance. The Aquino administration held its first PDF in February last year, which was focused on curbing corruption and reducing poverty. PDF partners include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Following Monday’s signing of the framework agreement in Malacañang, some of the multilateral institutions welcomed the landmark deal and pledged their continued support to the government for development in the region. JICA officials attended the signing of the agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF. JICA said it has been contributing to the development of Mindanao through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BiRD) and participation in the International Contact Group (ICG) that is providing advice by attending the peace talks as an observer. The World Bank also welcomed the agreement, saying this marks an important step toward achieving peace, security and development that will benefit all Filipinos. “The World Bank stands ready to work with the government, MILF and other sectors of Philippine society to intensify our efforts to improve the lives of many Filipinos, particularly the poor in Mindanao, and help build the momentum for lasting peace and inclusive growth,” it also said. – Iris Gonzales, Paolo Romero - By Pia Lee-Brago