Japanese IMT member calls on Mayor Lobregat PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 November 2011 16:40

One of the two Japanese members in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) Wednesday met with Mayor Celso Lobregat in City Hall to apprise the chief executive about his government’s initiatives and contributions to the peace process and development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Mayor Lobregat warmly greeted Naoyuki Ochiai, 1st Secretary and Member of the IMT but stressed that Zamboanga City is not part of the conflict area, thus, there is nothing to monitor in the city.

The mayor briefed Mr. Ochiai about the city’s firm stand on the peace process and even handed to the visitor a copy of his compact disc (CD) entitled “In Defense of Zamboanga, Mindanao, the Constitution and the Republic” that chronicles the city’s past and future actions concerning the peace process.

He pointed out that Zamboanga City is supportive of the reconstruction and development programs being undertaken in conflict areas for the benefit of the poor and innocent families.

In an interview with City Hall reporters, Mayor Lobregat said the Japanese IMT member emphasized about the implementation of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development or J-BIRD, designed to contribute to the peace process and development in conflict areas in Mindanao and the surrounding areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Under the J-BIRD, the government of Japan is providing grant aid for socio-economic development in the target areas. The program was launched in 2006 and based on reports, the amount of assistance is estimated to have reached billions of pesos.

Ochiai and Kei Fukunaga are the two IMT members representing Japan and are monitoring socio-economic development projects in the conflict areas.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lobregat stressed anew that an all out war against elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as called for by numerous sectors, will not redound to the benefit of anybody. “There will be no end to this (war), what is really needed is selective activities in going against lawless elements”.

Nevertheless, he said, justice should be given to the families of the slain soldiers, policemen and civilians during MILF-led attacks in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay and other parts of the country.

“We are all for peace, we’ve always said that, but it should not be appeasement. So if talks are supposed to continue, it should be done, but with the right persons,” the mayor added. — Sheila Covarrubias