Japan staying with IMT despite Malaysia’s pullout

The Malaysian-led IMT has been keeping an eye on the observance of a ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) since October 2004.

“Whether it is Malaysia, Libya or what country will lead the IMT, Japan will stay here and will continue giving development assistance to Mindanao,” Nagaishi Masafumi, Embassy Secretary and Senior Advisor for Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao, said in an interview.      

Masafumi was here on May 28 together with Sinichi Kakui, First Secretary for Development of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines, to grace the inauguration of a two-storey, ten-classroom school building.

The school building was built with funds from the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects of Japan with the assistance of the local government units here.

Masafumi said the government of Japan has been supporting peace efforts in Mindanao through its Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development.

He said J-BIRD aims to enable the people in the conflict affected areas to enjoy the “dividends of peace” through the Overseas Development Assistance on the basis of “human security” principles.

J-BIRD provides assistance in education, health, water supply, agriculture and fishery production, rural infrastructure, community facilities, and capability building.

The project is carried out in coordination with government line agencies, the government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, local governments, peace panels of the government and the MILF, Bangsamoro Development Agency, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and other partners.

Civil society organizations have been calling on the government and the MILF to request Malaysia to extend the tour of duty of its contingent to the IMT.

The presence of the IMT helped bring a drastic decrease in the number of clashes between the MILF and government forces the past three years.

Malaysia has been brokering the peace talks between the Philippine Government and the MILF since 2001. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo/MindaNews)

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