Australia pledges P240-M for GPH-MILF peace process

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2014 07:45 PM | Updated as of Feb 01 2014 03:45 AM

MANILA -- The Australian government has pledged its support to the peace process between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

It committed funding of A$6 million or P240 million for the next three years to boost the capacity of key institutions to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

"With this announcement, Australia seeks to support a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Mindanao to benefit not only the people of Southern Philippines but the entire country as well," Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said.

Tweddell said half of the Australian aid program in the Philippines is focused on Mindanao in areas such as education, economic development and disaster risk reduction. This P240 million funding over the next three years will add to this investment, he said.

"We recognize the work that needs to be done in Mindanao, and we stand with the Filipino people in our commitment to support the long term stability and development of the region," he said.

Australia has long provided assistance to the peace process through its aid program, including technical assistance to the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP) and funding to the World Bank and the United Nations, to assist parties as they finalize the basic law for the Bangsamoro.

It has also provided an international expert to the Independent Commission on Policing, which is currently working to provide recommendations on policing arrangements for the proposed Bangsamoro entity.

Tweddell earlier commended the Aquino government for prioritizing the agreement to bring peace to Mindanao.

He also congratulated the parties on the recent signing of the final annex on normalization under Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Currently, Australia is one of the Philippines' largest bilateral grant aid partners, providing A$137 million or P5.5 billion in official development assistance in 2012 to 2013.

Australia expects to invest A$170 million (P6.8 billion) in development investment to the Philippines in 2013 to 2014.