Mindanao fund gets $5.2M


THE WORLD Bank has extended a grant to the Philippines to beef up the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) and, therefore, support more livelihood and small-scale infrastructure projects in conflict-torn areas in the South.

Created in 2006, MTF is a pool of money contributed by various development institutions to provide financial support to small businesses and infrastructure initiatives in Mindanao.

In a statement, the World Bank said its latest contribution to the MTF amounted to $5.25 million. This would be enough to cover 65 more villages in 21 conflict-affected towns in Mindanao, it added.

A portion of the grant will be used by the International Labor Organization to fund livelihood initiatives. The rest will be used to support skills training programs for residents and fund small-scale infrastructure projects.

The approval of the grant came following the signing in October of a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The peace deal boosted hopes that investments in Mindanao would start rising to result in the creation of more jobs and reduction of poverty in the area. Mindanao is said to be a resource-rich area, but has many of the poorest provinces in the country because of security concerns.

“We welcome the additional support that adds to the government’s efforts to empower conflict-vulnerable communities in their quest for a peaceful and progressive life. We hope that this mechanism will continue to bridge goodwill and trust not just between the parties on the peace table, but also with the communities on the ground that we serve,” Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in the statement. Michelle V. Remo

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