Italy won’t let corruption stop dev’t aid to Mindanao
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Alleged misuse of development funds will not stop Italy from providing assistance to Mindanao.

Speaking to reporters, Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno said Italy will continue its agriculture aid program for Mindanao with an Italian project manager based in Cotabato City overseeing the implementation.

“Corruption is present and is the main concern in ODA (official development assistance) programs all over the world, but it is not a good reason to step backward,” he said.

He spoke for the European Union and Italy-funded International Conference on Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue for Peace to be held on June 6 and 7 in Cotabato.

Roscigno said some assistance from Italy for different ODA programs have not been well spent, but did not identify the projects and the countries that received the funding.

“But we cannot stop because of this,” he said. “As a donor country what can we do? We can just try to monitor at best its program that it funds or co-funds through its monitoring team, contacts in the local government and try to ensure it is doing it the best way possible.”

Roscigno sees the need for fostering local capacity building involving people in barangays who can be trained and taught how the program works and how it will benefit them.

“They will help and keep an eye on it and maybe they will report something wrong to the project manager if they notice something. This is the way to go about it,” he said.

Roscigno said any moment in the history of Mindanao presents opportunity to step forward and explore all avenues to improve the lives of the people.

“Without that there can be no progress. They have to go forward,” he said.

Roscigno said part of Italy’s program for implementation in Mindanao is aimed at local capacity building to help people, local governments and farmers’ groups.

“We are at the point when we are ready to start in a few weeks,” he said. “The program... will be split in many small projects for livelihood of the grassroots level, so we will have many villages that will be involved.”

Italy is currently implementing the Italian Assistance to the Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program in Mindanao, a project amounting, on the Italian side, to around 27.45 million euros to be disbursed in six years.

The total program budget requirement is 41.98 million euros, equivalent to about P2.5 billion financed through the following:

From the government of Italy, a soft loan of 26.19 million euros (about P1.57 billion), and a technical assistance grant of 1.35 million euros (P81.03 million) which includes Italian technical experts composed of a chief technical advisor, an engineer and a microfinance specialist, and seven national consultants.

From the government of the Philippines, a total counterpart of P866.3 million (about 14.43 million euros).

The main objective of the program is to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of about 53,000 rural families in four provinces of Mindanao: Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat, and ( and Lanao Sur.

The program will also contribute in strengthening the peace process in Mindanao as it seeks to address the sources of grievances of previously conflict-affected communities and prioritizes its interventions in these areas in order to accelerate barangay-focused rehabilitation and development.

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