Manila, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- The European Union (EU) has granted 24.5 million euros ($28.91 million) to the Philippines for the implementation of a peace agreement in Bangsamoro, a Muslim autonomous region in the south of the country, and for the rehabilitation of Marawi, a city devastated by a war against extremist groups in 2017.
Under the agreement, 5 million euros will be devoted exclusively to the rehabilitation of areas ravaged during the siege of Marawi, while some 3 million euros will be allocated to Bangsamoro’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Philippine government said in a statement Monday.
“This third grant from the EU this year underpins this major economic bloc’s unwavering commitment to the attainment of genuine and lasting peace and development in Southern Philippines along with the speedy recovery of conflict-devastated Marawi City,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said upon the signing of the agreement, which will be implemented over the next five years.
This new agreement takes the amount given by the EU in grants so far this year to 85 million euros.
Last month, it allocated 60.5 million euros for initiatives that strengthen peace and institutions in Bangsamoro, a region that is part of the troubled island of Mindanao, as well as for infrastructure construction and job creation.
The Bangsamoro region was formally established in 2019 as a result of the peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who laid down their weapons in exchange for heading the transitional government of that new Muslim region with about four million inhabitants, until elections are held in 2022.
So far, 30 percent of the 40,000 fighters of the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim armed group, have been demobilized.
However, there are increasingly radicalized Jihadist cells in Mindanao that have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State terror group although they were greatly weakened after being defeated by the Philippine army in Marawi, a city they occupied in May 2017 and from which they were expelled after five months of fierce fighting in which nearly 1,000 Jihadists died. EFE-EPA