Today is: Mon, May 20, 2013
USAID, MinDA Sign Accord On Peace, Dev’t Plans In Mindanao
COTABATO CITY (PNA) — Making its commitment a reality, the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a bilateral assistance agreement (BAA) with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) for the implementation of peace and development initiatives in southern Philippines.
The BAA was signed by USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele, representing the US government; and MinDA Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino for the Philippine government.
“This bilateral signing comes at an opportune time as we all gear up for an accelerated implementation of major peace and development initiatives in Mindanao,” Antonino said in a statement.
A cumulative amount of $ 7.7 million is allocated through the agreement to strengthen the Mindanao Peace and Development Program (MPAD) implemented in six conflict-affected areas in Mindanao — Cotabato City, Isabela City, Zamboanga City, Marawi City, Jolo, and Southern Basilan.
MPAD, a USAID grant assistance currently under the oversight of MinDA, aims to promote economic growth in the identified areas through expansion of economic opportunities, infrastructure development, improvement in governance and social services.
Antonino said the USAID-MinDA partnership had been one of the most formidable tandems in the sphere of collaboration between the Philippine government and official development assistance.
Some of the MPAD projects under the oversight of MinDA are Growth with Equity in Mindanao Program (GEM-3), Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS-4), Transparent and Accountable Governance (TAG-4) Project, Barangay Justice Service System (BJSS) Project, and Credit Union Empowerment and Strengthening (CUES) Project.
BJPP and CUES ended in February 2010 and December 2011, respectively, while the three other ongoing projects will all end in September 2012.
Bilateral agreements were also signed between the USAID and the Department of Health (DOH), Antonino said. The allocated funds will be used for the implementation of universal health care and family health programs.
These assistance agreements are in line with the priorities outlined in President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Social Contract with the Filipino People as well as with the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan and the Philippine Development Plan.
“This partnership strongly supports the implementation of programs that promote inclusive growth in the Philippines under the Partnership for Growth (PFG),” Steinberg said.
PFG is a partnership between the governments of US and Philippines that is seen to fast track the reforms of growth centers in various localities including in Mindanao, and provide remote and conflict-affected areas with more opportunities for growth.
“It’s not just about economics or governance. It is mainly about the (Filipino) people,” stressed Steinberg in a statement released by MinDA.
Philippines is one of the only four countries identified to be part of the PFG. MinDA has already committed to continue providing the needed oversight support for the MPAD initiatives in Mindanao.
USAID is among the international organizations that have been extending assistance to Muslim Mindanao or areas where past armed conflicts hindered the development of communities.