European Union Officials on Mindanao Mission Today

Article excerpt

Twelve European Union (EU) high officials will fly to Mindanao today to start their fourday mission as the EU focuses development programs on the southern island in support of the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The EU group of ambassadors includes Yves Gazzo, European Commission (EC) head of delegation, and their wives, a news release on their visit said.

They will be in Mindanao "to visit and assess the progress of the Upland Development Program (UDP) for Southern Mindanao and the National Integrated Protected Areas Program (NIPAP)" as well as receive briefings on ongoing and concluded projects in the area financed by the EC.

Fifteen countries compose the EU, such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

EC, an institution formed by the EU to represent its interests in other countries, has poured a big share of the EU's resources to war-torn Mindanao, "financing projects aimed at assisting in the peace process, aiding victims of armed conflict, alleviating rural poverty, creating jobs, improving women's health and protecting natural habitats and natural bio-diversity in the area."

The EU donor assistance - meaning joint EU delegation and member state funding - constitutes the fourth biggest official development assistance funding to the Philippine government, with the UDP and NIPAP forming parts of the whole assistance that EC has given to Mindanao.

UDP, with a total cost of 48,650,000 European currency unit (ECU) - EU grant of ECU 18,300,000 (P740 million) and Philippine counterpart of ECU 30,350,000, - is the EU's response to the Philippine government's call for assistance to Mindanao after it signed on Sept. …