July 17, 2020
European Union Chargé d’ affaires ad interim Thomas Wiersing; Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim; Minister of Finance, Budget and Management Atty. Ubaida Pacasem; Minister of Public Works Eduard Guerra; Minister of Interior and Local Government Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo; Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, DOF Undersecretary Mark Joven; MINDA Undersecretary Janet Lopez; DOF Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan; MINDA Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro; Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority Executive Director Mohajirin Ali; Mr. Enrico Strampelli, Head of Development Cooperation Section of the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines; distinguished guests, friends in media: Good morning.
The European Union has been a long and staunch development partner of the Philippines.
Today, we further strengthen our partnership by adding two more milestones to our development cooperation. Both program grants that have been formally exchanged are focused on helping Mindanao realize its greatest potential.
This support is timely, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Metro Manila and other highly urban communities remind us of the urgency of promoting economic growth in areas of the country that have been overlooked and underserved for far too long.
The 35.5 million-Euro or 2 billion-peso grant for the Mindanao Peace and Development Program is designed to unlock the productive capacities of Mindanao’s agriculture sector and expand economic opportunities for its farmers and small entrepreneurs. The grant directly supports the government’s priority of promoting growth in agricultural value chains.
Under this program, agricultural cooperatives will be trained in management systems, risk mitigation strategies, smart agriculture, and business development to help facilitate greater access to credit. This grant will also improve community-based infrastructure that delivers basic social services, clean water, and community sanitation. Ultimately, these efforts will support job creation, strengthen inclusive and sustainable growth, and promote lasting peace in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the 25 million-euro or 1.4 billion-peso grant for the Support to Bangsamoro Transition Program will bolster the institutions of the Bangsamoro Government. It will help finance capacity building of all three branches of the autonomous government as well as the civil society organizations in the region. This program will contribute to the Duterte administration’s efforts to assist the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, in building an effective and efficient system of governance.
The BARMM is a historic initiative that is closely being observed globally. We must do all we can to make this political development successful, and let it serve as a model for other countries burdened with seemingly intractable internal conflicts. With the support of the European Union, we will advance this initiative.
Overall, both programs will help clear the way for Mindanao’s rapid development and bring us closer to achieving President Duterte’s goal of genuine and meaningful autonomy in the Bangsamoro region.
We are also pleased that the European Union conveyed its intention to reorient portions of both grants to help the government address the effects of the pandemic in Mindanao.
This global health emergency has had a way of compounding deep-seated social problems. We can, however, defeat the pandemic and resolve historical disputes in one move with acts of solidarity and bridges of trust. These two programs will help demonstrate the power of cooperative action to make lives become better and bring humanity to a more hopeful place.
On behalf of the Philippine Government, I thank the people and member-states of the European Union for their continued support of our efforts to achieve inclusive regional growth.