- Secretary Jesus Dureza, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process & the OPAPP team
- Ms. Irene Santiago, Chair, Implementing Panel for the Bangsamoro Peace Accords
- Mr. Mohammad Ameen, representing MILF Chair Al Haj Murad, and all the MILF representatives here today
- Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, Chair of the BDA Board and all the BDA staff
- His Excellency, Ambassador Franz Jessen, EU Delegation to the Philippines
- His Excellency, Ambassador John Holmes, Embassy of Canada
- Mr. Richard Rodgers of the Australian Embassy
- Mr. Gil Dy-Liacco of USAID
- Representatives from CFSI, MinLand and the ILO
- A special welcome to people’s organization members who are joining us from all across Mindanao
- Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the World Bank as the Secretariat of the Mindanao Trust Fund, let me extend a very warm welcome to you all this morning.
Today we recognize and pay tribute to all of you who have been the key contributors to the Mindanao Trust Fund over the past eleven years.
We don’t usually organize an event of this scale when a project closes. But in so many respects the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project has not been a regular project.
From the outset this has been a unique undertaking. We don’t know of any other donor-funded program in the world that has worked so directly with a revolutionary group before a peace agreement was signed. I’d like to pay tribute to the foresight of those who established the Bangsamoro Development Agency and those who had the boldness to encourage the international community to work with the BDA and the MILF through the Mindanao Trust Fund.
Secretary Dureza, we know you were one of the drivers of this initiative; one of the people who was able to look ahead to a post-agreement scenario, knowing that the MILF would need people with skills, knowledge and experience on development in order to govern effectively.
And while the task of building strong institutions is a never-ending journey, nobody could deny that with the support of the MTF and other partners, the BDA and other MILF institutions have come a huge way in the last eleven years.
The MTF-RDP has been resilient. It ran for eleven years – I am in fact the fifth World Bank Country Director to oversee this project. It has proven able to traverse downturns on the political track, from the collapse of the MOA-AD to the Mamasapano incident and more. The government and the MILF never wavered on their commitments to peace and development.
The program has worked across a vast geographic scope, from Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan in the south-west to Davao Oriental in the east, dealing with the challenges of remoteness and insecurity.
And as I looked around the booths this morning, it was impossible not to be impressed by the sheer breadth of activity the MTF-RDP has supported. Starting in 2006 with community-driven development, the MTF has been a flexible and responsive accompaniment to the peace process. Following the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012, the MTF expanded to support small community enterprise development, the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan and the MILF’s Project Management Team for Sajahatra Bangsamoro.
And after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed in March 2014, the Facility evolved again to support implementation of commitments in the Annex on Normalization through assistance for communities in the Six Camps and 25 Base Camps of the MILF.
In this way, the MTF’s capacity-building assistance has also extended beyond the BDA to help different parts of the MILF prepare for the anticipated transition to the Bangsamoro.
The program has confronted challenges and inevitably confronted its fair share of setbacks, but I think everybody here can be enormously proud of the program’s many achievements. So, please give yourselves a round of applause.
I’d like to acknowledge a few people in particular:
- To Secretary Dureza and OPAPP – around the world you won’t find many, or possibly even any, governments as open to the involvement of both the international community and civil society in the resolution of conflict. And I’m sure you faced many questions along the way as to why the government was supporting development through the MILF in advance of a peace agreement. But you and the Philippine government understand that securing a just and lasting peace is a task that requires vision, courage and broad-based partnership. Without the government’s openness and your strategic guidance and leadership, the MTF would simply not have been possible.
- To the MTF donors – the European Union, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand. For the financial support, the technical advice, your interest in the program and for pushing us along the way, our deepest gratitude. This has been a relationship that goes well beyond the money.
- To the implementing partners – CFSI, MinLand and the ILO. We understand that it’s been no easy task working on this project over the last decade. But we also know it’s been a labor of love. Many of your key personnel were here when the project began and are still here today as it closes. This is a testament to your commitment and determination. Please accept our sincere thanks, respect and appreciation.
- To our partners in the MILF. The World Bank and international donors generally work with governments, not revolutionary groups. So this has been a unique but hugely rewarding experience. To our friends from the BDA, the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Project Management Team, the Task Forces on Camps Transformation and many more people over the last decade, thank you for the opportunity to work alongside you. We hope that our support has done justice to the cause of helping the MILF to govern effectively in the future, to help you meet the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people for the peaceful and prosperous life they so deserve.
- I hope you’ll also allow me to also recognize the World Bank’s MTF Secretariat team. We have a team of people that comes from Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City and Manila. Whether they come from Mindanao or outside, I know that are all deeply committed to Mindanao and to this program. Thank you to the team for your hard work and dedication both in organizing this event and for the last eleven years.
While the MTF-RDP is closing, our commitment does not end here. On the part of the World Bank, we are working to significantly scale up assistance in Mindanao for peace and development, to generate jobs, to build strong institutions and to support social cohesion on the ground.
In these and other activities, we look forward to continuing to work with all of you, building on the gains of eleven years of partnership for peace and development under the MTF.
I didn’t say a lot in my remarks about the project itself. That’s because we have a video presentation that will give you a taste of just part of the journey of the MTF-RDP. So, I invite you to turn your eyes now to the big screen behind me.