MILF fighters help implement JICA, World Bank projects PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 31 March 2013 14:09

The momentum of the Mindanao peace process has spurred enough confidence among Moro Islamic Liberation guerillas that they now openly participate in the implementation of costly projects of the World Bank and the Japanese government in areas that were known as “conflict flashpoints” in years past.

The conduit for projects of the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency — the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Social Fund Project (ASFP) — implements projects in far-flung areas as community initiatives, involving native folks and their local government units. 

Abba Kuaman, manager of ASFP, said MILF members have now actively been helping implement various projects in remote areas in the autonomous region, working alongside villagers, without their guns. 

“Even before the crafting of the FAB (Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro) small groups of MILF guerillas have already been coming out to help in the implementation of our `community driven’ projects implemented as multi-sectoral undertakings,” Kuaman said.

Kuaman, whose office is operating under the ministerial control of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, said MILF members became even more aggressive in participating in the community thrusts of the ASFP after the signing of the FAB last October 15, 2012.

The FAB, whose four annexes are now being completed by the government and MILF panels, aims to establish a new autonomous political entity, which the rebel group is to lead, replacing the ARMM.

Kuaman said the projects MILF rebels are helping construct now are located in Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Piang, Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano, Datu Saidona and Datu Anggal towns.

Maguindanao is a known bastion of the MILF, whose main enclave, Camp Darapanan, is located in Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province.

Experts from World Bank rated as “satisfactory” several times since 2005 the ASFP’s implementation of its projects in the autonomous region, which include post-harvest facilities, farm-to-market roads, small fishing ports and public watercrafts berthing facilities, multi-purpose centers and water systems.

JICA also has identical projects being implemented by the ASFP in many areas in the autonomous region.

The projects of ASFP are categorized into three components — the community development assistance; the strategic regional infrastructure; and the institutional strengthening and governance.

The World Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an international financial institution which offers “soft loans” to middle-income developing countries, granted the Philippine government an additional US$ 30-million in 2010 to enable the ASFP to continue with its projects for underdevelopment communities.

The ASFP has succeeded in assisting 2, 490 barangays in the ARMM since its inception more than a decade ago.

Most of ASFP’s JICA and World Bank-assisted projects were implemented in areas covered by 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF.

There are also dozens constructed in known enclaves of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace pact with government on September 2, 1996.

Kuaman said there is “no conflict” between the ASFP projects and those to be implemented under Malacañang’s Sajahatra program, which President Benigno Aquino III launched in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last month.

The Sajahatra project is a convergence of government services to be implemented directly in underdeveloped areas in MILF strongholds.

Kuaman said Hataman, who assumed as acting governor of ARMM in late 2011, has closely been observing the implementation of ASFP projects in the autonomous region.