THE government and the European Union (EU) have signed a new financing agreement worth 24.5 million euros (P1.405 billion) in the form of grants to support the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) coronavirus containment effort.

The Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement Monday that 5 million euros will help fund the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City, while 3 million euros will boost BARMM’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

The project will be implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority over five years or 60 months after the agreement is sealed.

The DoF said the agreement was signed on Aug. 11 by Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on behalf of the Philippines and Pierre Amilhat, the director for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and the Pacific of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development to represent the EU.

Asked where the rest of the grants will be allocated, the office of the DoF had not responded at deadline time.

“This third grant from the EU this year underpins this major economic bloc’s unwavering commitment to the attainment of genuine and lasting peace and development in the Southern Philippines along with the speedy recovery of conflict-devastated Marawi City,” Mr. Dominguez was quoted as saying.

This brings the EU’s total grants for the government’s peace and development efforts in Mindanao to 85 million euros so far this year.

Meanwhile, proposals on how the 3 million euros earmarked for BARMM’s COVID-19 response will be used have been submitted to the EU by the Philippine Red Cross and the French humanitarian organization Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development.

The DoF said the EU committed to start talks with the European Commission and the World Bank which could serve as third-party administrators of the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund — a multi-donor trust fund where international partners can send funds for the BARMM.

Last month, the EU and the Philippines signed two financing agreements worth 60.5 million euros that will fund selected development programs in Mindanao.

EU officials have said they will be “reorienting” up to 15 million euros worth of grants to the Philippines to support the coronavirus containment effort.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven had said the country’s active grants from the EU total 150 million euros so far, with 20-30 million euros more in the pipeline.

The EU is the country’s 11th biggest source of official development assistance. As of March, it had provided grants worth $138.15 million. — Beatrice M. Laforga