Japan and Mindanao peace and development

Published by rudy Date posted on March 27, 2011

FILIPINOS can benefit a lot morally from the sad and costly experience that Japan—and the Japanese people— have been made to suffer these past two weeks.

The most important lesson from Japan is the value of culture in a national society and of discipline in the individual citizen.

It was heartbreakingly inspiring to learn, from our own compatriots in Japan as OFWs, that when the Japanese were fleeing to higher ground because the tsunami could hit their town, they still drove in a straight line and stopped their cars when the light changed to red. There they were fighting for dear life, but they would not forsake their dignity as disciplined human beings.

How different we Filipinos are. Shouldn’t we all strive to develop that sense of dignity and discipline?

Another thing to learn from our Japanese friends, and from the Japanese government, is the skill, the temperament, to move on and get things going—despite a tragedy.

That is the subject of our special report today.

Despite Japan’s own great problems and sorrows due to the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear-power plant problems, the leaders and government people are not going to give themselves a break from having to fulfill their commitments to the poor countries they have signed aid and loan agreements with.

We are big users of Japanese Official Government Assistance (ODA), thanks to which many simple but vital improvements have come to the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

We would not be able to protest if the Japanese government were to say, “Sorry. We must beg off from helping put that water supply system in that province and that state of the art aerated composting facility in Benguet.” But the Japanese will not take a break from their duties. And we too must learn to be that principled and driven by the will to do the right thing no matter what.

The J-BIRD initiative
Among the aid we have been getting from Japan is the J-BIRD.

While struggling with the aftermath of the tragedy and disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami, Japan continues to support the development of the conflict affected areas in Mindanao. The assistance is founded on the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development, or J-BIRD. Japan launched the J-BIRD initiative in 2006 to carry out its commitment to help in the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP now GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

On Friday, March 25, Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura signed nine grant contracts for various social development projects in conflict affected areas in Mindanao. These projects are the fifth batch of the assistance under the J-BIRD funded through the Japanese government’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

This new package of assistance will form part of Japan’s commitment to support peace and development efforts in Mindanao. The package includes the construction of five school buildings, two training centers, a floating school, and a post-harvest facility.

Since the J-BIRD policy was instituted, Japan has supported 50 grassroots projects, costing a total amount of US$3.8 million or P217 million, more or less. In addition to these grassroots projects, various other assistance activities have also been implemented under the J-BIRD.

Ambassador Makato Katsura gave a speech. Here are some touching quotations:

“I have visited some of the sites of these projects before and have witnessed their effects by myself. When I saw children’s smiles at newly-constructed school buildings, I felt that the dividends of peace were steadily shared at the grassroots level. In 2009, I also visited a camp for internally displaced people or IDP to witness the distribution of emergency assistance items, and I was really impressed by the people who looked so resilient even in difficult situations. While my duty as Ambassador to the Philippines is coming to an end soon, I will never forget these experiences.

Japan and the peace process

“On this occasion, I would like to explain Japan’s policy for the Mindanao Peace Process which consists of three pillars. The first pillar is, of course, the J-BIRD. On top of the grassroots projects, we have actively engaged in various kinds of socio-economic cooperation projects under the J-BIRD. Here, we would like to renew our commitment that all the officials from the Embassy of Japan and the staff from JICA will continue our efforts to contribute to the improvement of people’s livelihood in Mindanao through the J-BIRD.
“The second pillar is the dispatch of our socio-economic development experts to the International Monitoring Team (IMT). Japan renewed its membership to the IMT and appointed Mr. Naoyuki Ochiai,, and Mr. Kei Fukunaga as Senior Advisors for Reconstruction and Development. Mr. Ochiai started his duty last December and Mr. Fukunaga just arrived yesterday. Both experts are expected to contribute to the socio-economic development aspect of the Mindanao assistance.

“The third pillar is our participation in the International Contact Group (ICG). The task of the ICG is to perform such roles as giving advice to the parties concerned on the peace process and participating in peace talks as observers. Upon the request of the Philippine Government, the MILF and the Government of Malaysia, Japan decided to participate in the ICG and has actively engaged in the peace process.” –Manila Times

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