By Francis Wakefield
The Japanese government on Thursday affirmed its support for the Philippines’ peace process.
Paying a courtesy call to new Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda committed his country’s continued support for various peace process mechanisms and programs, projects and activities (PPAs) that are being implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Mindanao.
Galvez expressed gratitude to Japan for continuously being an active partner for peace and development.
“The level of your investment and presence in our country demonstrates the unwavering support and commitment of Japan to help us attain just and lasting peace,” he said.
Japan has provided a total of $5.98 billion as its official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines as of the third quarter of 2018, making it the country’s biggest donor according to the National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA.
During their meeting, Galvez also updated Haneda on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), particularly on its impending plebiscite on January 21 and February 6, 2019.
Haneda said Japan hopes the BOL “wins the heart of the Bangsamoro people.”
“Japan will continue its support to the peace process,” he added.
Among the peace process mechanisms that Japan had participated in were the International Contact Group, International Monitoring Team, Independent Decommissioning Body, Joint Normalization Committee, Joint Peace and Security Committee, and Independent Commission on Policing.
Galvez developed a close relationship with the Japanese embassy in 2012 during the turn-over of two-storey school building in Basilan and first meeting in Cambug Albarka with MILF 104 BC Commander Haji Dan Asnawi with the facilitation of the ICG-IMT Ceasefire Mechanism.
ODAs and grants were also implemented by the Japan government through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) and JICA-assisted PPAs