Japan donates rice for bakwits; urges ceasefire, resumption of peace talks

A metric ton is equivalent to 20 sacks of rice; 7,500 is equivalent to 150,000 sacks of rice. WFP Philippines gives out 25-kilos of rice (half a sack) per IDP-family per month.

In its January 14 report posted  on its website only in the past two days, the National Disaster Coordinating Committee (NDCC) said there are still 66,127 families or 322,777 IDPs (also known in Mindanao as evacuees or ‘bakwits’), in and out of the evacuation centers and camps,  about 14,000 more bakwits than the  previous NDCC report dated December 29, 2008.

The December 29 report said there were still 62,849 families or 308,175 IDPs. At the height of the skirmishes, nearly 600,000 persons were displaced. 

In December, the Embassy provided sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, polyethylene containers, and sheets for tent amounting to US$81,853 in the form of a Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects.

The Press Office announced that Hiroyasu Ando, Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Italy and WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu signed and exchanged diplomatic notes of the emergency aid on January 23 and that this was conveyed by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura to the Philippine Government and Country Director and Representative of WFP Philippines Stephen Anderson.

The Grant Agreement will be signed and exchanged between Norio Matsuda, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Philippines, implementer of Japan’s Official Development Assistance, and Anderson, as witnessed by Ambassador Katsura and representatives of the Philippine Government at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 28, at the JICA Auditorium, 40F Yuchengco Tower in Makati City.

Earlier in 2006, Japan implemented food aid amounting to 280 Million Yen (approximately 2.8 Million USD) for IDPs in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao also through the WFP. The present grant is thrice that given in 2006.
Japan was a member of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) that was monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)  and the MILF.

Japan, however, did not send troops as Malaysia, Brunei and Libya did, but a development specialist. 

The IMT’s mandate ended on November 30, 2008. Efforts of the Philippine government to have its tour of duty extended proved futile as the Terms of Reference required that both GRP and MILF peace panels must request it. 

Japan has been implementing various support projects for reconstruction and development in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, including the grassroots.

“In 2006 and 2007, the Japanese Government carried out 21 Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) amounting to 145 million yen (approximately 1.6 Million USD), and has been implementing, through the Yen loan scheme, the ARMM Social Fund for Pea
ce and Development Project (2,470 Million Yen or approximately 27.2 Million USD), and so on.  Through these projects, various kinds of infrastructure such as schools, training centers, water supply systems, roads have been rehabilitated or constructed,” the Press Office said. 

Also since 2006, Japan has been conducting the  Study for Socio-Economic Reconstruction and Development of the Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (600 Million Yen or approximately 6.5 Million USD)  “in view of massive needs of reconstruction and development, once final peace agreement is attained in the area.”

Japan’s community-based reconstruction and development projects for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao fall under what is referred to as J-BIRD or  Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development. (MindaNews)