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Japan’s envoy visits and spends 3 days in BARMM to check areas of cooperation

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Ambassador ENDO Kazuya visited the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for the first time since the commencement of his term of office in the Philippines from June 18-20, 2024.

On 18 June, he paid a courtesy call to Bangsamoro Parliament Speaker Pangalian M. Balindon. He was also welcomed by Deputy Speaker Lanang Ali, Jr., Deputy Speaker Hatimi Hassan, Deputy Speaker Omar Yasser Sema, Floor Leader Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba, and Deputy Floor Leader Mary Ann M. Arnado. During the meeting, Ambassador ENDO and the Parliament officials exchanged views on the Parliament’s efforts to establish democracy in the BARMM region under its Parliamentary Cabinet system, as well as the current status of the deliberations on the remaining priority codes.

Ambassador ENDO also paid a courtesy visit to BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim and congratulated him on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB). During the meeting, Ambassador ENDO conveyed Japan’s unwavering commitment to supporting peace and development in the Bangsamoro region. Likewise, Chief Minister Ebrahim expressed his appreciation for Japan’s various support for the peace process over the last two decades, and prospects for further collaboration.

On 19 June, Ambassador ENDO visited the following two sites of ongoing Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects funded by the government of Japan.

Handover of a Solar Powered Ice Block Making Machine under the Project on Enhancing Food Security and Livelihood in Bangsamoro in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte

The handover ceremony for the Project on Enhancing Food Security and Livelihood in Bangsamoro under the Japanese Supplementary Budget (JSB) in Purok Molave, Poblacion 1, Parang, Maguindanao del Norte was also attended by Parang Mayor Cahar Ibay, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran and many other relevant stakeholders.

The USD 2.3 million project, implemented by the UNDP, aims to ensure food security to sustain peacebuilding and recovery in the Bangsamoro region. Approximately 3,150 households in 16 communities received food packs, while more than 30 communities in and around BARMM are set to benefit from livelihood development support related to the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Particularly, with the provision of a Solar Powered Ice Block Making Machine to the municipal local government of Parang, its fishermen and merchants are expected to overcome logistical and quality control challenges in preserving the freshness of their catch due to a lack of ice and cold storage facilities. This project component aims to increase profit and boost inclusive economic development within the municipality and the surrounding areas.

As the handover ceremony occurred during the Iranun Peace Festival, Ambassador Endo affirmed, “As we continue to forge a path for peace, may we all continue to promote opportunities for sound growth and progress enjoyed by many in Parang and the BARMM.”

Site Visit to the Project for “Enhancing and Sustaining Peace and Security Mechanisms in Mindanao, Philippines”

The Project for “Enhancing and Sustaining Peace and Security Mechanisms in Mindanao, Philippines” is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) under the Japanese Supplementary Budget (JSB). The project supports the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), a peace-keeping force composed of members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The JPST was established with the mission to maintain peace and order in Mindanao during the transitional period.

Ambassador ENDO visited the JPST Ganasi Station in Upi, Maguindanao del Norte after receiving a briefing on JPSTs from the Co-Chair of the Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) Francisco Ariel Felicidario III. Ganasi Station was one of the ten stations supported by the Government of Japan under the 2019 project “Assistance for the Normalization Process of the Decommissioning of MILF Combatants and for Security Enforcement in the Peace Process” with the UNDP. However, Ganasi Station has sustained damage from natural disasters in recent years.

Under the Project, the IOM will rehabilitate at least 4 JPST stations, including Ganasi Station, as well as provide livelihood support to the nearby communities. The Project will also develop refresher training modules for JPST members and training of trainers (ToT), as well as provide vehicles, motorcycles, and communications/logistics tools for JPSTs to ensure the peace and security in the communities, where a total of 24 JPSTs are deployed.

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