Mindanao Trust Fund Facility
The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) was established in 2005 in response to a request from the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to provide assistance for conflict affected areas of Mindanao, guided by the findings of the Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) of December 2005.
A. MTF Reconstruction and Development Program
The original objective of the MTF was to finance a Reconstruction and Development Program to strengthen local level peace-building initiatives and assist economic and social recovery in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. With a peace agreement between the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seemingly imminent at that time, the MTF-RDP sought to support capacity-building for MILF institutions and to deliver much needed basic services at the community level on a pilot basis, with a full scale implementation phase expected once a peace deal was signed.
As the negotiation process continued, the MTF partners decided to drop the proposed phasing and expand the coverage of community-driven development and reconstruction projects implemented in partnership with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the MILF. The program has helped to build BDA's capacity to fulfill its legal mandate to "participatively determine, design, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao." It has delivered community infrastructure and livelihood support to over 400,000 households across 79 municipalities in Mindanao. And, more importantly, through a deliberate learning by doing approach, the MTF has helped to equip the BDA to expand into multiple new activities and partnerships and become an important institution for the socio-economic aspects of the ongoing transition to the Bangsamoro political entity.
B. Evolution of the Peace Process and New Directions for the MTF
With the signature of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014, the MILF and GPH have entered into a new phase of collaboration to support a transition to the new Bangsamoro political entity. The political and technical challenges to forming the Bangsamoro and fulfilling public expectations of genuine autonomy and improved security and development are significant. The CAB, then, provides a strong impetus and framework for the MTF to adapt its support to the peace process in line with current developments, and learning from international experience of the benefits of multi-lateral action in times of transition.
The development objective of the MTF remains relevant to the changing strategic context, namely: "to improve social and economic recovery in conflict-affected communities in Mindanao through activities which promote confidence-building, peace and demand-driven government."
Evolving to align with the developments in the peace process, the long-standing Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP) has been expanded to incorporate support for economic livelihood development, macro-level planning through the Bangsamoro Development Plan and quick impact programs for MILF combatants and their families by supporting the MILF's Project Management Team for the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program.
Purpose of the Operations Manual
To intensify efforts to achieve the Project Development Objective and continue to align closely with the evolving context, the MTF will support additional projects aside from those already being funded (mentioned in paragraph 6 above). In light of this new direction, there is a need to have clear and objective guidelines for receiving, reviewing and approving new proposals for funding. This will ensure continued good governance of the MTF and improve predictability of the MTF for partners and stakeholders.
This Facility Operations Manual lays out these guidelines. It captures practices that have been in place since the Facility commenced operations and updates management arrangements to accommodate the evolving landscape since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Manual is for the use of MTF Steering Committee Members and the MTF Secretariat. It also provides guidance on MTF procedures for organizations seeking funding from the Facility.
This Manual is not mentioned in the Administration Agreements between the World Bank and the contributing donors to the MTF. Accordingly it has no legal status and is not legally binding, but rather is unofficially agreed as a set of guidelines between the members of the MTF Steering Committee.
Since its inception, the Mindanao Trust Fund has explicitly supported the GPH-MILF peace process. The BDA, as the development arm of the MILF, has been the main partner through the life of the Facility. However, once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is in place, the focus of the Facility is expected to shift to supporting the BTA and to helping the parties deliver against development-related aspects of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. This could include partners outside the BDA.
The future role of the BDA remains unclear at this point. It could be subsumed into the BTA, become a registered NGO or even see its staff spread throughout different line agencies of the BTA and, later, the Bangsamoro Government. While this remains unclear, this MTF Operations Manual refers to both the BDA and to the BTA/Bangsamoro Government as current and potential future partners respectively. Once the transition has taken place, the Manual will be reassessed to ensure that MTF-supported activities are properly aligned with the evolving political and institutional context.