17 February 2020 – The Philippine Embassy in Singapore in collaboration with the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute successfully held on 13 February 2020 the inaugural event under their Philippine Studies Agreement with a public lecture on “Moving Muslim Mindanao Forward,” with Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Partylist Representative Amihilda J. Sangcopan as keynote speaker.
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Joseph del Mar Yap narrated the evolution of the Philippine Studies Agreement, which was initiated by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda in 2017. Since then, Philippine Studies Agreements have been signed with various academic institutions in Europe, with ISEAS as the first in Asia.
It has become a cultural diplomacy thrust of the Department of Foreign Affairs to forge academic cooperation agreements with various prestigious and well-respected institutions in key countries in order to promote Philippine Studies.
“Mindanao represents great diversity in terms of culture, religion, and language of the Philippines. It is both a challenge and an opportunity for our country. The Philippines’ journey towards lasting peace, justice, stability and progress has not been easy. But we want to move forward with what we can achieve for Mindanao, particularly after we signed the landmark peace deal, Bangsamoro Organic Law, and established the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao under the leadership of President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” Ambassador Yap added.
In her presentation, Representative Sangcopan started with a backgrounder on the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and how it differs from the entity that succeeded it, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). She then explained the mandate of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that oversees BARMM and how BARMM was laying the groundwork for the 2022 elections. Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts and the state of the peace process in Muslim Mindanao were also touched upon in Representative Sangcopan’s presentation.
“The establishment of BARMM and BTA constituted positive steps forward following earlier periods of unrest and uncertainty,” Representative Sangcopan said.
She identified some of the key achievements so far of BARMM, which include the filing of 38 bills, introduction of various social programmes, decommissioning of 30% of the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), securing of registered investments worth around Php 4.15 billion, and the creation of 2,724 jobs in 2019.
Representative Sangcopan added that despite the progress made, the BTA still faces a number of challenges, which include the rehabilitation of Marawi City in the aftermath of the 2017 siege, reintegration of the remaining members of MILF and BIAF by 2022, and addressing the socio-economic needs of the population who are located in the poorest region in the Philippines.
In terms of collaboration between Singapore and Muslim Mindanao, Representative Sangcopan cited the areas of the halal industry, madrasah education, and Islamic banking and finance. END