Japan assures continued support to Mindanao peace process

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/19 October)—Japan will continue to cooperate towards achieving a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao, Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe said.

He made the pronouncement as he lauded the recently inked Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Urabe, who was here Wednesday for the turnover of houses for survivors of tropical storm Sendong (International codename: Washi) late last year, stressed that the signing of the Framework Agreement is a “good step towards achieving peace in the region.”

The envoy said they are expecting difficulties along the way but expressed optimism these can be hurdled with the sincerity shown by the government and the MILF.

He added that Japan has been supportive to the Mindanao peace process through the Japan Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction and Development or J-Bird and through its cooperation to the International Contact Group (ICG), which is involved in the Mindanao peace process.

“We have sent two experts to the war-torn areas to help evaluate the situation on the ground. We have built classrooms and other facilities to help the people move on,” said Urabe.

Since 2006, Urabe said they have funded at least 60 projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

“We are happy that the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro people have both agreed on a Framework Agreement,” said Urabe.

Government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen and his MILF counterpart, Mohagher Iqbal, signed the historic Framework Agreement on October 15. The Framework Agreement features the nine points of discussion for the peace process that includes the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
(Cong B. Corrales/MindaNews)