Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Japan gives $9.5M of rice for Mindanao

Japan will extend 860-million-yen (about $9.5 million) worth of emergency food aid to people in Mindanao who were displaced by the ongoing conflict there, the Japanese embassy in Manila said.

In a statement, the embassy said the food aid of about 7,500 metric tons of rice will be coursed through the United Nations’ World Food Program.

Japan has been part of the peace-building efforts in Mindanao. Before the end of the tour of the International Monitoring Team overseeing the ceasefire between the Philippine forces and those of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Japan had a development expert in the team.

According to the embassy, the decision was finalized on January 23, when Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Italy Hiroyasu Ando and WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu signed and exchanged diplomatic notes of this emergency aid.

This decision has been conveyed by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura, to the Philippine government, and Country Director and Representative of WFP Philippines Stephen Anderson.

On Wednesday, January 28, the grant agreement will be signed and exchanged between Norio Matsuda, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Philippines , implementer of Japan ’s Official Development Assistance, and WFP’s Anderson. The signing would be witnessed by Ambassador Katsura and representatives of the Philippine government.

This food aid is substantially larger than the one Japan gave earlier in 2006 for those displaced by the conflict in Mindanao, about 280 million yen (about $2.8 million).

Earlier in December 2008, the embassy provided sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, polyethylene containers, and sheets for tent amounting to $81,853 also for those affected by the conflict.

Japan sincerely hopes that this emergency food aid through the WFP would help mitigating the current humanitarian crisis in Mindanao and strongly expects a cease-fire and the immediate resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Japan has been implementing various support projects for reconstruction and development in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao down to the grassroots level. In 2006 and 2007, Japan carried out 21 Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) amounting to a total of 145 million yen (about $1.6 million), and has been implementing, through the Yen Loan Scheme, the ARMM Social Fund for Peace and Development Project (2,470 million yen or about $27.2 million), among others. ARMM is the political unit covering the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Through these projects, various kinds of infrastructure such as schools, training centers, water supply systems, and roads have been rehabilitated or constructed.

Also, Japan has been conducting the Study for Socio-Economic Reconstruction and Development of the Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (600 million yen or about $ 6.5 million) since 2006 in view of massive needs of reconstruction and development, once final peace agreement is attained in the area.
(By Veronica Uy)

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