USAID in Mindanao: The Other Side of the US COIN: Page 4 of 10

Posted on 22 June 2017

of the people”, and showing that “government is sincere in addressing the roots of conflict” (Armed Forces of the Philippines 2011, 4). Even as the Oplan Bayanihan made development part of counterinsurgency, armed operations continued, and resulted to violations of peoples’ rights: a recorded number of 249 victims of extrajudicial killings, many of whom belong to marginalized sectors, in addition to 12 documented massacres with 41 victims (Karapatan 2016). 103,337 persons were also displaced due to military and “peace and development” operations, with 4,000 belonging to indigenous groups in Mindanao (Karapatan 2016).

In the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the internal security plan is reportedly titled “Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan” (Legaspi 2017). While the contents of the plan itself are yet to be made public, the role of development activities in this operational plan appears key though still to be clarified.

From 2001 to 2008, USAID allocated USD 312 million for peace, security, and stability in Mindanao (USAID, 2008). During the same timeframe, “peace and security” results boasted by USAID included 834 barangay infrastructure and 40 regional infrastructure, and more than 28,000 former MNLF members practicing agriculture (USAID, 2008). These are activities undertaken in one of the bigger development projects during this time, the second iteration of Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM- 2). The third iteration of this program (GEM-3) ran from 2008 until 2012 (GEM I was implemented from 1996 to 2001; GEM II from 2002 to 2007).

Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM)    

Enhancing Governance, Accountability, Engagement Project (ENGAGE)

• around USD 500 million in 17 years 
• GEM I (1996-2001) GEM II (2002-2007), GEM 3 (2008-2012, with an extension in 2013 for disaster response) 
• USD 98 million for GEM-3 
• “umbrella” project with the following components: 
1. local infrastructure development 
2. preparing the workforce (e.g. English and computer literacy) 
3. technical assistance to local government 
4. business growth (e.g. encouraging commodity production for export) 
5. integration of former Moro rebels into export-oriented farming.

• approximately USD 7.3 million allotted since 2013

• a five-year good governance activity in six targeted conflict-affected areas (USAID 2014)

• supports the six local governments’ “service delivery, accountability and transparency” (USAID 2016)

• encourages engagement between civil society and local government (Development Alternatives Incorporated).

The six areas mentioned above include the following provinces: Northern Basilan/Isabela City, Southern Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga City, Marawi City and Cotabato City (USAID, 2015: 25). During this timeframe, one of the good governance projects of the agency is the Enhancing Governance, Accountability, Engagement Project (ENGAGE).

Until 2012, 60% of USAID budget for the Philippines goes to Mindanao (USAID, 2015: 12). These changed in the current USAID Country Development Cooperation Strategy with the Philippines, where a large part is allocated to national-level programs such as Basa Pilipinas, and the strategy’s general support to the market-oriented Partnership for Growth with the United States during its Asia pivot (USAID, 2015). As a result, only 10% is allocated for Mindanao, but still focused on “strengthening local governance and civic engagement to reduce conflict and violence

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