Pre-peace pact fund raised but eyes still on talks

The World Bank announced that the fund, opened last year, had since been raised to $3.6 million.

But the Bangsamoro Development Authority (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said it is nothing compared to what can be done if the final peace agreement is signed.

BDA is the development agency established in accordance with the humanitarian, rehabilitation and development aspect of GRP-MILF peace agreement in 2001.

Dr. Danda Juanday, BDA executive director, told MindaNews whatever they can achieve at the BDA would be useless without the final peace agreement even if they will be "learning by doing" in the effort.

"Peace or no peace (agreement), we have no choice but to develop our communities," he said.

He said they have ongoing pilot projects in only six communities out of the 3,875 conflict affected barangays in 150 municipalities around Mindanao.

The BDA has implemented the pilot projects using the MTF since April 2006, Juanday told reporters Thursday at the signing of the administrative agreement for Canada's additional support.

Presidential Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza urged reporters in a press conference Thursday to focus not only on the ceasefire efforts of the government, but also the development work under MTF.

He cited updates on BDA accomplishments as proof of development.

He said the peace process has been ongoing with the BDA's development projects and a working ceasefire between the government and the MILF.

"But the public has focused only on the ceasefire because of its dramatics.… It's time to look at the good news," Dureza noted.

He said the talks could push through after the elections as they did not want it to be affected by the dynamics of the upcoming polls.

Juanday said they are confident the peace process would move forward as any unfortunate scenario is detrimental to the BDA's projects.

He said if the peace process will fail, the BDA will also fail, adding even a prolonged ceasefire is unwanted. He said the projects are slow, as the peace process is also moving slow.

He said their goal at the BDA is to create a critical mass of leaders through value formation. He said the possibility of a coordinated program with the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) is remote, noting they have different orientations.

"Development should go side by side with the peace process. But prolonged peace process will not be good for the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people," he said.

Dureza said talks on possible BDA-SPDA coordination could come after the tripartite evaluation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF.

Mary Judd, World Bank’s Mindanao coordinator, told MindaNews even if the peace process fails, the efforts under MTF Phase 1 will not be wasted.

"This is capacity-building plus learning with actual projects that help the people," she said.

Juanday reported that the projects are ongoing in Lukatan, Tarragona, Mati, Davao Oriental (community hall and training center); Brgy. Sapad, Matanog, Maguindanao

(coco pugon); Brgy. Pacalundo, Baloi, Lanao del Norte (community hall and training center), Brgy. Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat (warehouse and solar drier, two units); Brgy. Sungayan, Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur (tire path); and Brgy. Baguindan, Tipo-tipo, Basilan (community hall and training center).