P95-M in grants to six NGOs signed today with European Union in Manila

October 16, 2009 9:48 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Oct. 16 — More than P95 million in agreements for financial grants to six non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which promised to pursue projects ranging from protecting the rights of Mindanao’s indigenous Filipinos to facilitating the implementation of the newly-passed Republic Act 9262 on women, were signed Friday with European Commission (EC) Ambassador Alistair MacDonald in Makati City.

The agreements were signed with NGOs Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST, P12-M), Buklod Center and Nagkakaisang Kababaihan (P9-M), Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM, P13-M), Institute for Social Studies and Action (ISSA, P11-M), and Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PAHRA, P13-M), and the Mindanao-based Initiatives for Peace (InPeace Mindanao, P35-M).

The assistance is in addition to the Euro 3.9-million in technical assistance to help the Philippines address the issue of extra-legal killings, under the EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme, a financial agreement signed on October 8 between MacDonald and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

After the signing of the agreements at the EC offices with the respective NGO representatives, MacDonald said he is “pleased that the EC will be able to support the excellent work of the six NGOs who are working to protect and defend the human rights of marginalized groups in the Philippines.”

He said the grants give further concrete expression to the EC’s commitment to strengthen the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reforms and in facilitating the peaceful resolution of resource-related disputes.

In a press conference that followed, the EC ambassador corrected observations that some of the projects to be undertaken by the NGOs appear to duplicate each other.

He explained that “our NGO partners have consistently demonstrated their commitment and effectiveness in the area of human rights.”

"I am sure that our grants will give significant help in consolidating the political participation and representation of women, children, indigenous communities and other disadvantaged groups in the country,” she said.

The six grantees were among the 30 NGOs that proposed projects and “we have chosen the most deserving among them, based on the current focus of the EC,” said MacDonald. The projects will be implemented over the next months for two to three years.

The PRRM’s governance proposal “seeks to intervene in the coming local and national elections of 2010 by promoting the right of suffrage and participation of indigenous peoples in automated elections.”

InPeace Mindanao, which received the biggest grant, styles itself as a tri-people synergy of civil society groups from Lumads, Moros and disenfranchised Christian sectors.

Many of its leaders and convenors are identified with militant organizations, some associated with insurgent groups.

The funding of Euro 1.37 million is provided under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights which is described as “an important EU programme providing support for human rights and human rights defenders around the world. (PNA)

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