WB-MTF: Giving peace a chance to work in war-torn Mindanao (Published: May 27, 2015)

COTABATO CITY, May 27, 2015 – Ten years after, the components of the longest-running program supporting peace and development in war-torn Mindanao are being showcased by proponent World Bank as a way of promoting the peace process and providing for the needs of the people. 
 
Perlita Laogan of Barangay Romangaob in South Upi, Maguidanao is one of the beneficiaries of an extension project for a post harvest facility.
 
She recalled how in the past they used to wait for some time to dry corn or palay using a tarpaulin as dryer.
 
"Noon, wala pa kaming solar dryer... bumibilad lang kami sa trapal. Hindi po tiyak 'yung eksakto na pag- dry n'ya, pero kung tag-init naman, mga dalawang araw lang po. Kung tag-ulan hindi natin alam kung ilang araw po talaga 'yun.
 
"Ngayon, hindi makaabot ng one hour, malaking deperensya po," Laogan said.
 
“We save a lot of money and time waiting for products to be sold,” she added.
 
Highlighted in Sitio Tuka, Barangay  Ganta, Kabuntalan in Maguindanao, were trading a center and 10 public comfort rooms.

What people need
 
Rahima Samba recalled the time when the community used the Pulangi River as a huge comfort room, and in the process caused safety and sanitation issues – particularly involving children who were at risk of drowning.
 
"Pero ngayon ok na po, kasi mero na kaming CR... Dati kasi wala, sa Pulangi lang. Kung minsan pag nag CR ang mga bata mahulog sila. Delikado... Patay na sila. Kaya ngayon maraming salamat kay meron na kaming CR," said Samba.
 
For the Washington-based lender, the project was a way of responding to what the people really need back then.
 
“These projects are what the people wanted and suggested, which they feel as a way to achieve peace in the community”, said to Matthew Stephens, World Bank-Mindanano Trust Fund (WB-MTF) program manager.
 
The program was spurred by a government request in 2002 to 2003 to organize a multi-donor trust fund supporting the peace process.

Peace process
 
Since it was launched in 2006, the WB-MTF has provided P1.3 billion worth of support that covered  access to basic services that included roads, water supply systems and sanitation facilities, as well as livelihood support for farmers.
 
The program was estimated to have read at least 500,000 people in 214 villages in 75 municipalities in 12 provinces.
 
The MTF also supported capacity-building aimed at helping the Bangsamoro Development Authority draft a Bangsamoro Development Plan, a comprehensive economic blueprint  for the proposed Bangsamoro territory.
 
The WB-MTF pooled funds from the European Union and the governments of Sweden, Australia, Canada, United States, New Zealand and the World Bank in support of the peace process between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
 
"I think a lot of people talk about peace process and they think about politics. But I think what’s more important about it is peace process is really helping the communities to have peaceful life, and to have a better life," said Stephens.
 
With the donors working with the Bangsamoro Development Agency, the bottom line is simply trying "... to help those who suffered from conflict for a long time... and have a better life," he added.– Ferdinandh Cabrera, VS, GMA News

Date Published: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015