Manila -- The European Union and the Philippine Government through the Department of Finance officially exchanged financing agreements wherein the European Union provided for Php 3.4 billion to support lasting peace and sustainable development and to increase economic opportunities in Mindanao until 2025.
"The EU has always been a reliable, impartial and committed partner in the pursuit of peace and development in Mindanao”, said Mr Thomas Wiersing, Chargé d'Affaires, a.i., EU Delegation to the Philippines.
It remains steadfast in its resolve to continue strengthening this partnership in the future through peace consolidation and inclusive growth", said Mr Wiersing who stressed that the EU’s DNA is peace.
“These two agreements reaffirm the commitment of the European Union in contributing to peace and development in Southern Philippines. The EU has been a major actor in Mindanao in promoting peace, human security and development over more than two decades”.
The ceremonial exchange of financing agreements this morning (17 July) was led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Mr Wiersing at the DOF in Manila.
During the exchange, the agreements were duly acknowledged by both parties with the EU providing Php 2 B under “Rise Mindanao” and another Php 1.4 B under Support to Bangsamoro Transition” (SUBATRA).
Rise Mindanao Programme will help provide job opportunities for farmers, women, youth and indigenous people. In particular, farmers’ organisations will be assisted to enable them to engage in livelihood activities in agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and to set up their own cooperatives.
With the SUBATRA Programme, the EU will help consolidate the hard won peace in Bangsamoro by supporting the new administration, the parliament, the new judicial system, civil society through the transition. It will also draw from expertise from the Philippines, the EU, and across the world, and will also build training facilities and equip all relevant institutions.
These programmes are part of a larger package of the EU cooperation programmes expected to be finalised within this year.
For more than two decades, the European Union has been a key partner in promoting peace, security and economic development in the Mindanao region.
In the recent past, activities have focused on health including reproductive health, and a large component of the ASEP energy programme, is being implemented in Mindanao. All in all the engagement of the EU cooperation in Mindanao, can be estimated at EURO 50 million in the in the last five years only.
Furthermore, the EU is a longstanding partner in the peace process initiatives, which have contributed to the stability in the region, both supporting the dialogue in the communities, and participating to multinational monitoring activities, among others.
In the area of humanitarian assistance, the EU has been extensively assisting the communities displaced and affected by crisis due to armed conflict and natural calamities.
In the last five years and through its humanitarian aid operations (ECHO), the EU has provided Php 1.35 billion or EUR 24 million worth of life-saving assistance to people affected by armed conflict and natural disasters. This included food assistance, temporary shelters, water supply, access to sanitation facilities, cash transfer, health and nutrition, psychosocial support, and protection. The EU also supports the local government units in strengthening their disaster preparedness capacity.
TEAM EUROPE DURING THIS PANDEMIC
Team Europe approach aims to combine resources from the EU, its member states, financial institutions outside the EU. The EU through “Team Europe” stands ready to assist the Philippine Government in its fight against COVID-19 by reorienting some of the funds in the originally agreed programmes from the less urgent elements to addressing the short to medium-term consequences of the pandemic.
Reorientation is geared towards mitigation of the impact of pandemic to health, social and economic recovery, subject to discussion and agreement with concerned government agencies.
Subject to further discussions with the Philippine Government, the European Union estimates that in total up to EURO 15 million could be reoriented to address the impact of COVID-19 in the Philippines.
The EU’s humanitarian aid has been widely responding to the ongoing crisis by reaching out to the most vulnerable communities at high risk of COVID19 infection under its “Team Europe“ approach.
The EU has provided roughly Php 50.21 million since days after the national lockdown to assist poor families with cash assistance, food distribution, hygiene kits and face masks, handwashing facilities, and transportation for locally stranded individuals. To-date, there are 489,885 individuals directly assisted with distribution.
The EU, with the support of partner civil society organisations (CSOs), is also working on COVID-19 information campaign. Advocacy campaigns and materials to inform communities on how to prevent and cope with COVID-19 are being developed. Multi-lingual videos and infographics are also being produced to ensure wider dissemination and understanding from the public, specifically targeting youth and women.
At the regional level, EU confirmed funding of Php 1.25 billion or EUR 20 M to support a World Health Organisation (WHO) systemic response to the COVID-19 in eight ASEAN countries, to strengthen the preparedness of these countries in dealing with pandemics. Other EU Member States in the Philippines are also providing direct support.