European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux (4th from left), hands over the P312 million cheque intended for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Central Mindanao to DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman (3rd from left) and UN-WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson (5th from left). Also in photo are: (from left) Ms. Luisa Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator; ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman; OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles and Mr. Mike Pasigan, Member, Peace Panel, Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“For peace dividends to be felt in conflict-affected communities in Muslim Mindanao, developmental assistance should be extended to give the internally displaced persons the opportunity to rebuild and reconstruct their lives.”
This was the part of the message of DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman during the ceremonial signing of the Statement of Cooperation for the implementation of the European Union-funded project “Enhancing the Resilience of Internally Displaced Persons in Central Mindanao by Strengthening Livelihoods.”
The Signatories to the Statement are: Ambassador Guy Ledoux, Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines; Mr. Stephen Anderson, Country Director of the United Nations-World Food Programme (UN-WFP)-Philippines; Secretary Soliman; Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; Governor Mujiv Hataman, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao; and Mr. Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the Negotiation Panel-Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The signing of the Statement of Cooperation follows the recent historic signing of the peace framework agreement. Under the Statement of Cooperation, the European Union provided P312 million to the UN-WFP to boost the livelihood recovery of 50,000 families or 300,000 persons displaced by the past conflict in Central Mindanao.
Ambassador Ledoux said that the partnership with WFP, DSWD and other stakeholders aims to address the challenge of bringing normalcy back to the lives of the people affected by armed-conflict. He also commended the Philippines for the signing of the peace framework agreement which signifies that development is now at hand in Central Mindanao.
Ambassador Ledoux added that the first step towards rebuilding the lives of internally displaced persons is to regain confidence regarding security, and the second step is finding livelihood. The peace framework agreement is the first step while the provision of EU of more than P300 million responds to the second step.
Ambassador Ledoux also said that the EU is acting fast with the provision of more than P300 million for those affected by conflict because “we know that the people of Mindanao want and need to see that their lives are improving as a result of the peace agreement.”
On the other hand, UN-WFP Country Director Anderson said that this Statement of Cooperation will plant the seeds of development in Mindanao, connect people to sustainable programs and maintain peace in the region. He added that the livelihood assistance from EU “builds on and complements the partnership we have with DSWD for the continuous implementation of cash for work and food for work programs for internally displaced persons.”
The UN-WFP and DSWD will be jointly implementing the program. According to Mr. Anderson, there are 70 UN-WFP staff in Central Mindanao to coordinate with the local and national governments. Secretary Soliman added that DSWD-ARMM and DSWD Field Office XII will help implement the program.
Mr. Anderson further said that community participation is one of the key components of the program wherein families will be consulted on the types of livelihood activities that will be implemented in their localities.
Meanwhile, ARMM Governor Hataman expressed their gratitude for this project which will bring more programs to Mindanao. He also expressed that the local government is willing to support developmental programs anytime and to educate the people of Mindanao towards peace and progress.
Secretary Soliman emphasized that the partnership with EU and WFP, with the support of the ARMM government and other national government agencies, means that hard-to-reach communities can now be provided with developmental programs saying that the cash-for-work and food-for-work programs will ensure that food is available to families affected by conflict and help them reconstruct their lives.
Secretary Soliman stressed that for peace to work and for developmental programs to succeed, all stakeholders at the national and local levels must work together. “The peace framework paves the path for peace to work,” Secretary Soliman concluded. ###