By Roy Mabasa
The United States government has announced a P595-million extension fund to support projects that enhance governance, expand economic opportunities, provide infrastructure, and strengthen the foundations of peace in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.
The extension fund is covered by a bilateral agreement called the Mindanao Peace and Development Assistance Agreement, a partnership between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
Acting USAID Mission Director Patrick Wesner and MinDA Chair Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto signed the agreement on Tuesday, November 13.
“Today, the U.S. government reaffirms our commitment to walking alongside you and offering support as we relentlessly pursue our shared vision of prosperity and peace in Mindanao,” Wesner said during the signing.
With the new fund commitment from USAID, this brings the total of US government support to the partnership since 2007 to over P7 billion.
According to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Manila, the extension funds opportunities for people affected by the Marawi Siege to improve their economic conditions and will strengthen community cohesion among the displaced population.
Both USAID and MinDA have also partnered to upgrade airport runways, water systems, bridges, and roadways, as well as build water systems, boat landings, bridges, market centers, and farm-to-market roads, improving infrastructure in 800 barangays over the past 11 years under the said agreement.
USAID has likewise worked with LGUs and Mindanao-based civil society groups to promote local governance good practices, increase community cohesion, facilitate dialogue, and decrease community conflict.
As a result of all these partnerships, more than 170,000 residents benefit from civil society and local government use of social accountability tools.
Additionally, it has provided job and livelihood training to more than 28,000 former combatants.
Last month, Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim announced US$25 million (P1.35 billion) Marawi Response Project, a three-year USAID program intended to improve economic and social conditions of communities directly affected by the Marawi Siege