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EU, UK commit P3B for Bangsamoro projects

COTABATO CITY—Fresh funds from foreign governments are flowing into the Bangsamoro region to support development initiatives that cement the recent gains of negotiated peace between the government and Moro rebels.

The European Union is providing 50 million euros (P2.9 billion) while the United Kingdom has committed 3 million pounds (P195.6 million), or a total of about P3.1 billion, in a show of continuing support for the peace process in Mindanao.

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Thomas Wiersing, deputy head of the EU delegation to the Philippines, disclosed the aid allocations during Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

The aid commitment from the European Union and the United Kingdom came on the heels of Malacañang’s lifting of the suspension of financial assistance from foreign governments that criticized President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

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In 2017, Mr. Duterte rejected aid from the European Union after the latter supposedly infringed on Philippine sovereignty when the regional bloc expressed concern over alleged extrajudicial killings committed in relation to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The European Union is one of the biggest foreign development partners that provide support to Mindanao and the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The EU is pleased to note the progress being made in the Bangsamoro peace process,” Wiersing said in a statement on Wednesday, which was released through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Carlito Galvez Jr., presidential peace adviser, lauded the international donor community for sustaining their support for the Bangsamoro peace process.

Wiersing said the EU’s initiatives for implementation in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are the Peace and Development in the BARMM and the Support to Bangsamoro Transition. The projects have been earmarked 25 million euros each.

Wiersing said the programs aimed “to address pressing issues that may arise during the BARMM’s transition period and beyond.”

The BARMM government was formed last year following the plebiscite that ratified the BOL, a measure anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that embodied the peace deal between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

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The pact was signed on March 27, 2014, ending four decades of separatist rebellion that killed at least 120,000 people.

The interim Bangsamoro government is led by the MILF.

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