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Bangsamoro trust fund seen accelerating peace process

THE Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF) launched on Wednesday, is expected to fast-track peace processes in the region and boost the local economy with the help of pooled resources from various development partners.

At its launch on Wednesday, Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines, said the BNTF will play a key role in supporting normalization in the Bangsamoro region.

The World Bank will serve as the administrator of the trust fund, as agreed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), he said.

“We are committed to play this role professionally and with a strong sense of purpose, within a strong spirit of collaboration,” Mr. Diop said in a speech.

At the same time, he said the fund will also strengthen coordination among international institutions supporting normalization in the region.

The World Bank also assisted a similar initiative, supporting the peace process in Mindanao through the Mindanao Trust Fund launched in 2006, which it also administered. The bank donated $1.5 million out of the $28.88 million of that fund’s total resources. Other partners were the European Union ($17.66 million), Sweden ($4.29 million), Australia ($2.89 million), Canada ($1.6 million), the United States ($750,000) and New Zealand ($200,000).

Mr. Diop said the government of Australia and the EU have pledged their support for the BNTF.

He said among the key objectives of the BNTF is to fund, coordinate and oversee the delivery of assistance from donors for projects that aim to rebuild, rehabilitate and develop Bangsamoro communities, especially those hosting demobilized MILF combatants and poor households.

Proceeds from the fund will also help former MILF combatants and their communities return to peacetime life, and turn six former MILF camps into productive communities.

Other international partners that expressed support for the fund on Wednesday were the United Nations, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland.  — Beatrice M. Laforga

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