MANILA – Japan provided ¥500 million (around $4.4 million) in grants on Wednesday for water and agriculture projects in conflict-affected areas on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
The projects, to be implemented by the International Labor Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, are “follow-through instruments of peace” as the Philippines’ predominantly Muslim region transitions into an autonomous region with more self-governing powers, said Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda.
The ¥300 million ILO project aims to provide a safe and reliable water supply, while the ¥200 million FAO project intends to provide vocational skills training for agriculture and fisheries, as well as literacy and entrepreneurship training.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority was launched last month, five years after a 2014 peace agreement was reached between the government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group to end decades of insurgency in the restive region.
The transition authority will eventually give way to a more powerful Bangsamoro government in 2022 with its own parliament, as well as more executive and economic powers.
It is estimated there are more than 3 million people in the Bangsamoro region, which covers nearly 1.5 million hectares, mainly in central-to-western Mindanao.