The Japanese government is committed in supporting the transition from Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a bilateral meeting with Foreign Affairs secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Sunday, February 10, that they welcome the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
“We are ready and willing to extend our assistance for Mindanao Peace Process,” Kono said.
He emphasized that Japan has been involved in Mindanao’s peace process for more than a decade.
Kono met separately with Dominguez and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Sunday at the Waterfront Hotel in Lanang, Davao City.
Ebrahim said he is glad with Japan’s unwavering support.
“We wish that Japan will continue their support of the development program of the BARMM area,” Ebrahim said.
For a smooth transition of ARMM to BARMM, establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is necessary. The transition period is seen within three years or until 2022.
BARMM’s territorial jurisdiction includes Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; Cotabato City; and 63 barangays in six North Cotabato town.
Ebrahim did not specified on what transpired during their meeting with Kono but he emphasized that it was focused on Japan’s participation on the programs for BTA.
Meanwhile, Natsuko Sakata, Japan’s assistant press secretary told reporters in a separate interview that they were keen on supporting Mindanao’s stability and peace because of its strategic location.
“Philippines is located in a very strategic area, in a cross passage, and if instability takes place here it will easily spread to other regions, so the peace and stability of Philippines is very important for you and other neighboring countries,” she said.
She mentioned that some of its typical contributions involving peace initiatives are dispatching Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) expert to the International Monitoring Team, a monitoring team headquartered in Cotabato City to monitor the implementation of peace between the government and one of the largest rebels in the region, the MILF.
The Japanese government, she said, also dispatched a monitoring team led by Norikazu Suzuki, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Cotabato City last January 21 as international observers of the first plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL.