Japanese  Gov't already spent $98-M for Mindanao peace and development efforts, says IMT

by Ben Serrano

November 9, 2010


            BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - The Japanese Government alone from March 2008 to present under J-BIRD or Japan Bangsamoro Intiatives for Reconstruction and Development already poured in approximately some 9.85-B Yen or $ 98-M for socio-economic assistance for the GRP-MILF peace talks.


            Major General Datuk Baharom Bin Hamzah, Head of Mission of the International Monitoring Team-5 for GRP-MILF peace talks said nearly twenty NGOs have benefitted in the J-BIRD funding while around 20 schools, 5 training centers, 5 water system projects and others were built from $ 98-M funds or socio-economic assistance.


            In Baharom’s power point presentation before nearly 100 participants 6th Mindanao media Summit last Saturday claimed apart from schools, training centers and water system projects, housing units, Training Centers for Humanitarian Services, Training Centers for indigenous People were built while one Skills Training Center for Bangsamoro Women was built too.


            “Aside from that, the Japanese money helped build Islamic, Health and Multi-Purpose Buildings, Early Childhood Development and Agriculture Centers and projects for the Bangsamoro people under J-BIRD”, the Malaysian Army General who claimed for the first time in his life he is wearing complete Malaysian Army uniform without a gun.


            “My weapon now is my mouth doing all the talking for the sake of peace and development for the Bangsamoro people here in Mindanao” the Malaysian Army General who heads the International Monitoring Team-5 for the GRP-MILF peace talks in his speech before summit participants.


            Beneficiary areas of the $98-M Japan funds mentioned by Baharom were provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Cotabato City, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Saranggani Province and Compostela Valley province especially in areas where Filipino Muslims are living.



            Aside from being a military general in the Malaysian Army, Baharom has Ph. D degree on Public Administration and is head of mission of the international monitoring team composed of delegates from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, European Union and Libya


            Baharom who is one of the speakers of the recently concluded 6th Mindanao Media Summit held in Davaoo City November 5-7, 2010 claimed his term as head of the mission is only one year and will end up next year February 28, 2011. 

              Other speakers in the summit attended by selected media practitioners from all over Mindanao were OPPAP Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles, MinDA Chair Secretary Luwalhati Antonino MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal, Philippine Army General Jose Vizcarra and Major Carlos Sol for GRP.

               Asia Foundation Director Dr. Steven Rood talked about MILF-GRP Peace Talks Mechanism: The International Contact Groups while Atty. AbhDud Syed Lingga, Executive Director of Bangsamoro Studies talked about other concerns of the peace talks. 

              Former U.P, Journalism Dean and Professors Luz Rimban of VERA Files discussed "Social Media For Journalists while Award winning journalist Yvonne Chua talks about Media Ethics, Safety and Security. 


            Baharom served as Head of the Mission for eight months now since his arrival here in Mindanao last February 28, 2010.


            The International Monitoring Team made several observations and analysis of the GRP-MILF peace talks based on their 8-month stay and getting along with broad range of stakeholders and constituents and these were;


            One, ground situation holding so well, two, protest by both parties on uncoordinated activities by both parties resolved by JCCCH or Joint Committee on Ceasefire and Cessation on Hostilities, three, regular commitment of local government units needed, four, there is a dire need for local government unit to ensure peaceful environment while negating impartiality and five; uniltateral operation by SY forces on MILF members will create tension and may cause escalation for ceasefire violation.


            Baharom said the International Monitoring Team already made a total of 1,405 courtesy calls and meetings with various stakeholders on the GRP-MILF peace talks since their arrival February 28, 2010.


            Baharom said monitoring activities of the team includes. field verifications, confidence building measures, hearts and minds projects, establishments of early warning systems, constant coordination and communication with all stakeholders, round the clock monitoring on civilian protection component elements with NGOs.


In his power point presentation, Baharom reported that from March 2008 to October 2010, the number of armed skirmishes between GRP and MILF reached to total of 335 encounters with the month of August in 2008 recorded the highest with 77 armed skirmishes.  (PNA/Ben Serrano)