COTABATO CITY: European Union (EU) Ambassador Guy Ledoux led here Friday a 10-man EU delegation on efforts to express support to the continuing Mindanao peace process and development in the region.
Apart from a meeting with officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the April 25-26 visit of the EU envoys included a trip to Camp Darapanan, the main bastion of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and an engagement with ARMM and Cotabato City businessmen.
“Our visit to Mindanao demonstrate our continuous support for the development of the region,” Ledoux said following the meeting with ARMM officials at Shariff Kabunsuan, the provisional seat of the autonomous region in this city.
Ledoux also commended the GPH-MILF peace panels for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and completion of the Bangsamoro Basic Law for the peaceful transition in Mindanao in the aspects of economy and social development.
The Bangsamoro entity proposes to supersede the old ARMM set up, which President Benigno Aquino III described as a failed experiment.
The proposed political entity also pursues to bring closure to the 17-peace overture between the government and MILF through the new juridical set up that seeks to expand the ARMM’s authority from its current five-province component in Mindanao that includes Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan.
Since 1990, the EU has poured in PHP9.6 billion in assistance to Mindanao, which includes the providing of grants to non-government organizations for the promotion of good governance and human rights.
To date, the specific focus of the EU support revolved to the delivery of peace dividends through the Mindanao Trust Fund–Reconstruction and Development Program as managed by the World Bank for conflict-affected areas of the island-region.
The EU is also funding a PHP354-M food and livelihood assistance program under the World Food Program for the smooth resettlement of internally displaced persons affected by local conflicts in Central Mindanao.
During the 2012 onslaught of Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, and the 2013 Zamboanga siege, the EU extended humanitarian aid amounting to PHP590-M and PHP18-M, respectively. PNA