WB pledges support for Bangsamoro region

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L to R: Philippine Secretary of the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Al-Hajj Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Ghazali Jaafar, vice-chairman of MILF, join hands holding a proposed draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace in Manila on July 17, 2017. — AFP

THE World Bank (WB) said it will ramp up development support to the Bangsamoro region after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) last week,

“The signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and its implementation are critical to achieve long lasting peace in the region, and we are committed to scale up our program and double our efforts in support of this promising opportunity,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand in a statement on Tuesday.

The BOL will allow the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to have its own government with expanded powers of taxation. President Rodrigo R. Duterte promised the Muslim community in the southern Philippines to resolve long-standing conflicts.

“This is a significant milestone towards achieving stability in the region. The Law creates new opportunities for sustainable peace in Mindanao,” the World Bank said.

Currently, the bank along with other development partners is supporting the peace process between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front through the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF).

It first launched the program in 2006 seeking to assist social and economic recovery in conflict-affected communities, providing livelihood centers, solar driers, water and sanitation systems, among others.

The MTF pooled together P1.4 billion or $29.9 million as of 2017, which translated to 573 infrastructure and social projects

In April, the World Bank and Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation provided an additional $3.2-million grant funding to the MTF.

The World Bank also recalled that it “recalibrated” its Country Partnership Strategy for the Philippines to “deepen its focus on the Mindanao region,” to boost financing programs for improving agricultural productivity and connectivity; boosting education, skills, and employability of the youth; and helping build resilient communities.

“Besides the MTF, the World Bank has also been supporting the Mindanao through community-driven development, social protection, education, infrastructure, and rural development projects and programs,” the World Bank said.

“The World Bank has been a long-time partner in supporting peace and inclusive growth in Mindanao. We welcome the news and look forward to continue working closely with the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in support of sustainable peace and development in Bangsamoro and the entire Mindanao region,” said World Bank Vice-President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan