By Cai Ordinario, June 14, 2022; Business Mirror

The Philippines has received a 1.8 billion yen grant from the Japanese government to create jobs and boost the socioeconomic development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) signed the agreement this week.

Through the grant, which amounts to roughly P700 million, the Philippines will be able to undertake urgent reconstruction of the Provincial/City Manpower and Development Center (PCMD) in Marawi City and other socioeconomic infrastructure improvements.

“The signing of the Grant Agreement for the Programme for the Urgent Improvement of Socioeconomic Infrastructure in Bangsamoro will further strengthen the cooperation between our two governments,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in a news statement.

“Through the rebuilding and improvement of the techno-vocational training centers and the construction of farm-to-market-roads, we expect more accessible economic opportunities as people are empowered through skills development and enrichment and improvement of market trade,” he added.

Sites of the subprojects include Marawi City, the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat and Basilan among other conflict-affected areas.

The Bangsamoro Infrastructure Needs Survey, conducted from December 2018 to February 2019 by Jica, served as the basis for the potential socioeconomic infrastructure projects that the grant will support.

“We hope that this grant assistance project generates economic growth in the midst of changing times, which contributes to the stability and prosperity of the whole Philippines. Jica has been and will always be the closest and the most reliable partner of the people in the Philippines,” said Jica Chief Representative Takema Sakamoto.

Chua said at the end of the first quarter of 2022, the partnership has resulted in the completion of eight projects, with a total cost of P1.14 billion.

The projects were under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD), while four more projects began implementation in the previous Japanese fiscal year.

“As we transition into a new administration, the Philippine government maintains its steadfast commitment to fully realize the gains of our partnership with the Government of Japan,” Sakamoto said.
“We look forward to implementing future projects and peace initiatives in pursuit of our goal of peace and development under the Bangsamoro Development Plan 2023-2028,” he added.

Jica has been supporting the peace-building process in the Bangsamoro with the Government of the Philippines and Japan through the J-BIRD since 2006.

The recent projects for peace and development in Mindanao include the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP), Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CDPB) for building the foundation of governance, strengthening public service delivery and community development and dispatch Jica experts as special advisors.

Jica has also emphasized on economic development through loan and grant projects such as $202-million Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (RNDP-CAAM) linking Mindanao’s key cities as well as the program for support for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City and its surrounding areas.