Disaster-stricken Japan vows continued support for Philippines
Japan on Friday signed a 1-million-dollar grant for the strife-torn southern Philippines and vowed to continue support for development projects despite suffering a devastating earthquake and tsunami this month, dpa reported.
Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura initialled nine deals for the grant that would fund projects aimed at boosting peace talks between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
"While struggling with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, Japan continues to support the development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao," the embassy said in a statement.
The projects included the construction of five school buildings, two livelihood training centres, a floating school and a post-harvest facility in MILF-influenced communities in Mindanao.
Japan is a member of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, which oversees the implementation of a ceasefire between the military and the MILF.
The Philippine government and the MILF have been holding on-and-off peace talks for more than a decade. President Benigno Aquino III said he expected to sign a peace agreement with the guerrillas before his term ends in 2016.
The 12,000-strong MILF has been fighting for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao since 1978. It agreed to hold peace talks with the government in 1997, but fighting has often derailed the negotiations