Bangsamoro law ratification strengthens Japan’s desire to help Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 Jan) – The ratification of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) will “strengthen the desire” of the Japanese Government to help Mindanao improve its economy, Japanese Consul General Yoshiaki Miwa said.

Counting of votes in Marawi City during the 21 January 2019 plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro law. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

“That strengthens our desire,” he said in an interview Thursday, adding that “for many, many years … [they have] consistently supported the peace negotiation … [and] have put so much effort to stabilize the region

Miwa said the Japanese government has also supported initiatives to help Mindanao in the areas of economy and governance.

He said he hopes the ratification of OLBARMM will have a good result.

He said they have been undertaking projects to improve transportation and logistics such as the farm-to-market roads for Mindanawons in the agricultural industry. Miwa said their support helps in the recovery and enhancement of the local economy.

As the peace and security get stabilized, he believed more Japanese companies will come to invest in Mindanao, which is located strategically as a hub for the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Miwa said there is a big potential for Mindanao economy to become stronger with its agricultural industry, natural resources, and young labor pool.

The Japanese government has committed a loan worth $202.04 million or P10.69 billion to fund key infrastructure projects that will contribute to the “peace and development” in conflicted-affected areas and revitalize the local economy of Mindanao.

Miwa said the loan will help in the rehabilitation, improve infrastructure and employment, and generate jobs for Mindanawons.

In a briefer published on the website of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines, the governments of Japan and the Philippines will sign an exchange of notes for the loan that will fund the “Road Network Development Project in Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao.”

It said the fund will be utilized to finance projects that will “improve logistics, stimulate economic activity, and strengthen access to the region with the construction and refurbishment of roads and bridges” in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.

“The project will construct and improve access roads to arterial roads linking the main cities of Mindanao, thereby contributing to the revitalization of the regional economy, the reduction of poverty and the consolidation of peace in conflict affected areas in Mindanao,” it said.

The projects that will be funded using the Japanese loan include the construction and improvement of 101.9 kilometers of access roads, including the 19.8-km Marawi Ring Road and 23-km Marawi Trans-Central Road.

The infrastructure projects are intended to “foster economic activity, ensure smooth commodity flow, and improve the region’s accessibility.”

The loan has a repayment period of 18 years after a seven-year grace period.

The Japanese government will also provide a grant for the detailed designs for Matanog-Barira-Alamada Road and Tapian-Lebak Coastal Road, which are supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

It said Japan has been supporting Mindanao peace and development through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD).

Since its launch in 2006, Japan has provided a total of P13 billion that benefited 824 community infrastructure projects such as schools and clinics and capacity building for 400 people from the Bangsamoro area by bringing them to Japan in the last five years. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)