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Department of Finance


The Philippines has been identified as one of the beneficiaries of a debt conversion program by the Italian Government under its 2011-2013 Programming Guidelines and Directions. This led to the signing of a Debt for Development Swap Agreement between the Philippine Government through the Department of Finance (DOF), and the Italian Government through the Italian Embassy on May 29, 2012.

Under the Agreement, the Philippines’ debt obligation amounting to EUR2,916,919.45 (about USD3.70 Million or Php160 Million) was converted into a Grant for the implementation of development projects focused on environmental protection and poverty reduction in the poorest areas in the Philippines with the effective participation of local communities.

Officially named the Philippines-Italy Debt for Development Swap Program (PIDDSP), it aims to support the achievement of the country’s development goals relating to poverty reduction, sustainable development and the protection of the environment.


The Italian Development Cooperation in the Philippines

With the launching of the “Call for proposal” for the new “DEBT- FOR-DEVELOPMENT SWAP PROGRAM”, Italy continues in the path of close cooperation with the Philippines, in the spirit of a strong friendship that traditionally links our countries and our peoples.

This new exciting program, for an amount of about 3 M Euros will finance projects targeting specifically:

Poverty reduction; Socio-economic development Environmental protection and sustainable management of natural resources.

It falls well in line with a long, solid tradition, dating back to the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Italy and Philippines, born in 1947 with the signature of a friendship agreement between the two Countries, and continued with the first agreement of technical and scientific cooperation in 1969.

It was in 1987 that the new Italian Development Cooperation with the Philippines was launched with the signature of the first bilateral agreement, where an Italian soft loan of 85 M USD was made available for the development of sustainable irrigation systems.

That same year another soft loan of 70 M USD entered into force for the development of the energy sector in the Country.

In the 80s the cooperation between Italy and Philippines was so intensive that 15 bilateral agreements were signed in order to develop many sectors, including telecommunications.

During the 90s the Italian Development Cooperation was also active in the Philippines in the sector of energy, including geothermic – where Italy has unparalleled experience and technical capabilities – education and transport.

In the last 5 years the total ODA from Italy to the Philippines amounted to € 34,726,739.00.

This amount was allocated mainly in the framework of Bilateral Cooperation, while about 2 M euros were allocated in Multilateral cooperation, financing a project implemented by FAO in the Veterinary sector, so successfully that subsequently it was expanded to other neighbouring Countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar).

The largest bilateral program currently on-going is the “ITALIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE AGRARIAN REFORM COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT PROGRAM – IARCDSP” for a financed amount of over 26 M euros in soft loans, and 1.3 M in grant in technical assistance. This program total operative value amounts to 42 M Euros (equal to over 54 M USD).

The Department of Agrarian Reform is the executing Agency in collaboration with others Filipino Departments.

The program targets specifically :
Agricultural enterprise development support Community infrastructure development support Local capacity building support

We are very proud of this program, focusing on supporting integrated development projects in Mindanao and targeting Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, their families, their communities villages and cities. We expect they will be able to increase their incomes and quality of life, but also contribute to a better socio-economic general environment which should contribute to a positive solution of the historical problems of Mindanao, and facilitate the peace process.

Last but not least the Italian Cooperation has extended a helpful hand to the Filipinos in the last two years when two catastrophic typhoons have strongly hit areas of Mindanao destroying thousands of houses and infrastructures. At the end of 2011 and 2012 we sent emergency aid for about 700.000 Euros, also trough the International Red Cross.

The Italian Cooperation is currently operating in Philippines through a Development Cooperation Office located in the premises of the Embassy of Italy in Manila.

We will keep working hand in hand with our Filipino friends for a better tomorrow.

Massimo Roscigno
Ambassador of Italy


Nine (9) projects were successfully funded under the Program – two (2) small projects (maximum of Php10 Million each), five (5) medium projects (maximum of Php25 Million each), and two (2) large projects (maximum of Php35 Million each) – emerged as the strongest in their respective categories. One (1) project is for implementation by a Local Government Unit, one (1) project by a development arm of a private university, and seven (7) projects by NGOs.

Five (5) projects are located in Luzon and implemented by the Provincial Government of Ifugao, Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in the Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), the Mother Consuelo Development Foundation, Inc. (MCDFI), the Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives, Inc. (BCDI), and the Tagbalay Foundation, Inc. (TagBalay) in partnership with the La Venta group of Italian Cave Explorers. The remaining four (4) projects are located in Mindanao and implemented by the Philippine Eagle Foundation, Inc. (PEF), the Ateneo de Davao University – Institute for Socio-Economic Development Initiatives (ADDU-ISEDI), the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme – Philippines (NTFP-EP), and the Xavier Science Foundation, Inc (XSF).

By type of intervention, five (5) projects focus on forest conservation and reforestation, two (2) projects on sustainable and integrated agriculture, one (1) project on coastal resource management, and one (1) project on eco-tourism.

The projects are expected to give additional and/or alternative livelihood to about 17,000 beneficiaries, including farmers and fisherfolks, reforest at least 1,000 hectares of land and 100 hectares of mangrove, and work for the restoration and protection of the Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan protected areas and a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) in Palawan.

Two of the projects, namely the Mother Consuelo Development Foundation, Inc. (MCDFI) in Tabuk, Kalinga and the Ateneo de Davao University – Institute for Socio-Economic Development Initiatives (ADDU-ISEDI) in Davao City were already closed in February 2021 and June 2022, respectively.

Moreover, as of December 31, 2023, two (2) projects are for closing, namely the Xavier Science Foundation, Inc. (XSF) in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Philippine Eagle Foundation Inc. (PEF) in Davao City, as they have not expressed their interest to continue the implementation of the project.

Currently, only five (5) projects expressed interest to continue the implementation under the Program.


The Program is collaboratively managed by the Philippine and Italian Governments through the DOF and the Italian Embassy, respectively. A Management Committee and a Technical Committee have been established to guide and support the implementation of the Program. The DOF – International Finance Group (DOF-IFG) serves as the Program Secretariat with the Italian Embassy as the counterpart. Due to the recent changes in the management of the Italian side effective April 2023, the Program is currently being handled by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in Hanoi as the counterpart.


The Management Committee, represented by the Secretary of Finance or his/her representative and the Ambassador of Italy in Manila or his/her representative, provides the policy direction for the Program.


Supporting the Management Committee is the Technical Committee composed of a Program Manager from the DOF, a Program Expert from the AICS, and representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Philippine and Italian Civil Society Organizations.

Monitoring Visits

Various monitoring visits were conducted last 2022 for the implementation of the extension of the Projects under the Program after the COVID-19 pandemic. Said monitoring visits conducted by the Program Secretariat were joined by the Italian Embassy through the Program Expert, Mr. Massimo Chieregato and Desk Officer, Ms. Kassandra Marie Correa. Background information and highlights of the visit are detailed below:

Support for Sustainable Eco-Tourism in the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Area Project by the Tagbalay Foundation Inc in partnership with City Government of Puerto Princesa – Protected Area Management Board (CGPP-PAMB)
June 16-17, 2022
The visit to the Underground River allowed the PIDDSP Secretariat to understand that PPUR was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation from Typhoon Odette. PPUR has a limit of 1,200 visitors a day and serves as the main source of livelihood for its surrounding communities. In March 2021, however, PPUR was closed due to the imposition of community lockdowns and travel restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. This led to the loss of livelihood for families working for the PPUR, particularly cave-guides and boatmen.

After the travel restrictions were lifted, PAMB decided to reduce the entrance fee being charged to the PPUR visitors from 500 pesos to 100 pesos in order to attract more tourists/visitors and eventually regain their livelihood. In December 2021, various areas (PPUR, Sabang Wharf and its access road) in Puerto Princesa were devastated by Typhoon Odette. The same also led to a temporary closure of the PPUR considering the destruction of some of the boats being used during tours and PAMB focused on recovering from the disaster.

Promoting and Ensuring Sustainable and Resilient Community-based Forest Enterprises by the Non Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme-Exchange, Inc. (NTFP-EP)
December 6-7, 2022
The PIDDSP Secretariat together with the representative from the Italian Embassy visited a total of two (2) project sites, located in the following municipalities below:
  ● Sitio Impahanong, Brgy San Luis, Malitbog, Bukidnon
  ● Sitio Eva, Brgy Samay, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental
  ● Ginoong City

Appraisal and Site Visits
The site visit focused on the Component 1:Enterprise Development of the Implementation Work and Financial Plan (IWP).

Before the extension, some of the project objectives were not achieved due to delays in the release of money and the occurrence of the pandemic. Thus, the last period of implementation from January to July 2018 focused only on production, marketing and selling products.

Sitio Impahanong, Brgy San Luis, Malitbog, Bukidnon

    The Siloo Ananggi Itoy Amosig (SAIA) community organization welcomed the monitoring team with a typical IP ritual that involves the sacrifice of (2) hens for wishing good luck and success. Then, the monitoring team discussed with the community organization about the impact and results of the project in their lives. The community shared about their solid production of citronella and collaboration with Human Nature, a Filipino business brand whose advocacy is focused on the environment and the beauty sector.

Through the training and support of NTFP-EP, people in the organization acquired competencies in bookkeeping, marketing and sales. In the end, the organization shared their intention to extend the program and the plans to start the digitalization process using computers and ad-hoc training.

Economic Sustainability (ECO-CARES) – Extension Phase by the Xavier Science Foundation, Inc.
December 4-5, 2022
1. The Xavier Science Foundation Inc. (XSF) has partnered with four (4) IP organizations during the implementation of the Program’s extension and focused on improving agro-forestry products and constructing food storage or processing facilities for the IP organizations. Of the four (4) IP organizations, the Secretariat visited the Catal Lumad Development Association (CALUDA) and the Tumindok Association. The following are the IP communities:

a. Libona Municipal Tribal Councils Association (LIMUTRICA)Barangay Capihan, Libona, Bukidnon
b. Catal Lumad Development Association (CALUDA)Barangay La Roxas, Maramag, Bukidnon,
c. Manggayahay Talaandig Tribal Association, Inc. (MANTALA)Bgy. Mt. Nebo, Valencia City, Bukidnon
d. Tumindok Association, Inc. (TUMINDOK)Brgy. Lourdes, Valencia City, Bukidnon

a. Tumindok Association, Inc. (TUMINDOK) in Valencia City
Tumindok Association, Inc. is a new IP community partner of XSF. Given the limited time for the extension of the Project, the association has built a food processing facility in which they can process their product and extended a small coffee shop to have a proper space to sell their products.
Because of the Project, the IPs have been united which led to the success of their dreamed facility. XSF only provided for the materials needed and the labor counterpart was provided by the Tumindok Association. According to one of the IPs, back then, their ancestors were easily deceived by exchanging land for food. But because of Projects like this, they were able to learn many things and that they cannot be easily fooled by exploitative people.

Tumindok Association is asking for the provision of electricity for the processing facility to process and facilitate their products such as peanut butter, peanut cookies and arabica coffee.

When IPs were asked about what are their other priorities for the community of given financing in the future, the following were raised from the women, men and the youth:

 ● to plant more abaca and coffee

 ● equipment for the processing facility and stable market to sell their products

 ● product development for their products to bring the youth to start in investing in business which will help them in their studies

 ● Scholarship for lumad

b. Catal Lumad Development Association (CALUDA) in Bukidnon
CALUDA, through the help of XSF and the Program, has built a food processing facility. In fact, the Secretariat witnessed the turn over ceremony of the said facility on December 5, 2022 which was attended as well by the IPs which was led by the “Datu” and the Barangay Officials. XSF only provided for the materials needed and the labor counterpart was provided by the IPs of CALUDA. This is a way for them to have that sense of ownership and taking care of the facility will follow naturally, thus making sure that the facility is well maintained.

for them to process their products such as chayote pickles, banana chips, chayote nuggets, and chayote concentrate, which they learned from the food technology in Xavier University. Further, they also highlighted the good impact of the said facility in which they now have a place to gather and meet about their social enterprise.

One way of giving back to all that they have achieved is that, ten percent (10%) of their profit is being contributed for the preservation of the forest. Through the Program, the IPs have learned to value the environment and the impact that they can contribute.

IPs of this organization showed the eagerness to learn new things such as handicrafts on native products, vermiculture and mushroom processing but further conveyed that they have yet to obtain financing for these.

No visits were done to LIMUTRICA and MANTALA due to safety reasons.

Summing it up, XSF discussed the following accomplishments for the extension of the project:
 a. Conducted Project Orientation for TUMINDOK, MANTALA and CALUDA;
 b. Constructed food storage/processing facilities;
 c. Improvement of agroforestry product development;
 d. IPs have market linkages now and participated in congress and food expo last October 26-30, 2022; and
 e. Establishment of an Eco-Emporium facility which will house the products of Indigenous Peoples from Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon and other IP communities in Northern Mindanao. It will serve as a hub to connect consumers and producers, to promote the IP cultures and develop awareness of the interconnectedness of IPs, the forests, and the food systems.
Update on Muyong Project: An Intervention to Improve Forest Cover and Household Incomes in Upland Communities by the Provincial Local Government Unit of Ifugao (PLGU) Monitoring Mission
(November 25-27, 2022)
The recent monitoring mission to Ifugao, conducted by the PIDDSP Secretariat in collaboration with representatives from the Italian Embassy, assessed the progress of the Muyong Project aimed at enhancing forest cover and community livelihoods. The team visited five plantation sites across Lamut, Kiangan, Asipulo, and Tinoc, focusing on Muyong Development.

Key Findings:
1. Lamut, Ifugao: At the beginning of the Project in 2016, free fruit tree seedlings were distributed to the direct beneficiaries which include the following: rambutan, durian, banana and lanzones. Despite a 15% mortality rate of the fruit trees, beneficiaries successfully maintained fruit trees distributed in 2016, showcasing sustainability efforts.
2. Brgy. Bolog Kiangan: Rambutan and Pomelo trees showed a 12% mortality rate.
3. Brgy. Julongan, Kiangan: Over three hectares planted with arabica coffee, lemon, and coffee plants introduced for livelihood.
4. Asipulo, Ifugao: Since 2017, twenty (20) lanzones, seventy-five (75) durian and twenty-five (25) pomelo trees have been planted, covering 1.2 hectares.
5. Brgy. Binablyan, Tinoc: 300,000 coffee seedlings planted, with additional training for pruning and maintenance.

Ways Forward:
Considering the remaining funds of the Program, it has been mentioned that in accordance with the willingness of the DOF as well as the IE, there might be a possibility of another extension pending review by higher management.
Update on the Sagip-Banwa: Community-based forest corridor restoration by Indigenous People by the Philippine Eagle Foundation
(December 8-10, 2022)
The PIDDSP Secretariat, accompanied by Mr. Massimo Chieregato and Ms. Kassandra Marie Correa from the Italian Embassy, conducted a comprehensive monitoring mission in North Cotabato, focusing on the Sagip-Banwa project led by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). The project aims to restore and conserve tropical forests within Magpet and Arakan watersheds for biodiversity and community well-being.

Key Findings:
1. Location: Two reforestation sites in Arakan were visited during the mission.
2. Previous Implementation Period (January – December 2018): The focus was on project closure, native tree planting, agroforestry crop production, and finalizing a feasibility study for a community-based plant nursery. Extreme heat conditions hindered land preparation and activity implementation.

Ways Forward:
Considering the remaining funds of the Program, it has been mentioned that in accordance with the willingness of the DOF as well as the IE, there might be a possibility of another extension pending review by higher management.
Update on the Sustainable Management of Municipal Waters in Burias Pass, Bicol Region for the Benefit of the Disadvantaged Sectors by the Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives, Inc.
(November 28-30, 2022)
The PIDDSP Secretariat, accompanied by Mr. Massimo Chieregato and Ms. Kassandra Marie Correa from the Italian Embassy, conducted a detailed monitoring mission in Bicol, focusing on the project led by Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives, Inc. (BCDI) aimed at building economically stable and disaster-resilient communities along the West Coast of Albay.

Key Highlights of the Monitoring Mission:
 1. Welcome Meeting at BCDI Office, Legazpi City: After a warm welcome by BCDI staff, the executive director, Ms. Nerissa S. Casin presented project accomplishments during the extension period of the Program (July to October 2022).
 2. Site Visit in Maonon, Ligao City: The mission’s second day focused on a site visit to Maonon, Ligao City, where the PIDDSP Secretariat and others were welcomed by beneficiaries. Two of the four bancas financed by the program were handed over to the community, followed by the distribution of livelihood starter kits and cash capital to 75 women entrepreneurs.

 3. Utilization of Funds by BCDI: The recently released funds were utilized for various components of the project:
  a. Component 1: Strengthening capacities of barangay councils and people’s organizations.
   i. Capacitation on DRRM, eco-tourism, and local economic development.
   ii. Provision of DRR equipment and supplies to barangays.
   iii. Training on personality development, tour guiding, and water safety.
  b. Component 2: Promoting economic opportunities to micro-entrepreneurs.
   i. Capacity building on business development
   ii. Distribution of livelihood starter kits and capital to 75 micro-entrepreneurs
  c. Component 3: Improving security and production for small fishers
   i. Provision of motorized fishing bancas to 3 fisher’s associations

Ways Forward:
Considering the remaining funds of the Program, it has been mentioned that in accordance with the willingness of the DOF as well as the IE, there might be a possibility of another extension pending review by higher management.
Update on Environment Protection and Poverty Reduction through Sustainable and Climate Resilient Agriculture (EPPR-CReSA) Project Monitoring Mission
(November 23-24, 2022)
The PIDDSP Secretariat, along with Mr. Massimo Chieregato and Ms. Kassandra Marie Correa from the Italian Embassy, conducted a monitoring mission in Tarlac, focusing on the Environment Protection and Poverty Reduction through Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Agriculture (EPPR-CReSA) project led by the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA).

Key Highlights of the Monitoring Mission:
 1. Welcomed by PhilDHRRA and its partner implementer Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), the team visited project sites in Tarlac, Bamban, and Camiling. Four (4) sites were explored, focusing on Component 1 of the Implementation Work and Financial Plan (IWP) – PhilDHRRA Development.

 2. Site Visit Findings: The Project faced operational challenges, ceasing activities due to the onset of the pandemic. Challenges included unfinished farmer training and limitations in mentoring and monitoring. Site visits included validations of farms and greenhouses in Capas, Bamban, and Camiling, showcasing organic rice production and community field initiatives.

 3. Utilization of Funds by PhilDHRRA: Recent fund disbursement supported various activities, including:
  a. Validation of farms implementing organic rice production.
  b. Validation of greenhouses for organic production.
  c. Support for community fields through training and cultivation.

Ways Forward:
Considering the remaining funds of the Program, it has been mentioned that in accordance with the willingness of the DOF as well as the IE, there might be a possibility of another extension pending review by higher management.


Currently, the Program Secretariat together with its counterpart from the Italian side, the AICS Hanoi Office is in close coordination on the review and evaluation of the project proposals from the Implementing Entities (IEs) for another extension of the implementation of the Projects.

In order to officially commence the implementation of the extension of the Projects, a Management Committee meeting should be convened which is targeted in the month of April 2024.

Moreover, the original closing date of the Program based on the Agreement was on December 21, 2018, as determined in accordance with Article 7.2 of the Agreement. Currently, the Program is in its fourth extension since the original expiry on December 21, 2018. Below are the requested extension and approval dates for the Program:

Date of Request for Extension
Period Covered
Date of Approval from the Italian Side
November 16, 2018
December 21, 2018 to December 31, 2020
February 8, 2019
November 26, 2019
December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021
July 15, 2020
December 16, 2021
December 31, 2021 to December 31, 2022
March 2, 2022
December 28, 2022
December 31, 2022 to
June 30, 2024
April 24, 2023

Next Steps

As we approach the end of the validity of the Program, the Program Secretariat, together with the AICS Hanoi Office, is currently exploring the possibility of extending the Program for another few months to enable the IEs to fully disburse the approved grant amounts for the projects.

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