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Posted on 08 November 2014 by cbcs_mike

Thousands of delegates coming from multi-sectoral developmental groupings both state and non-state actors, domestic and international communities flocked to a two-day forum
on Bangsamoro held at SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City yesterday November 5 – 6, 2014.


In particular the delegations was dominated by the members of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) who was the main presenters of the different thematic areas of the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) that will give impetus to the Bangsamoro Basic Law once passed into law by the Congress. BDA is the development agency of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a product of previous bilateral agreement with the Government of the Philippines (GPH). Of course the MILF as main presenter of the BDP showed their full force lead by no less than Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, 2nd Vice Chairman Alim Solaiman Pangalian, MILF Negotiating Panel Chairman Mohgher Iqbal and other ranking officials of their Central Committee.

Comprising almost half of the delegations were coming from the international communities involved in the GPH-MILF Peace Process as well as those new faces who signified their intent to partake in the successful conclusion of the GPH-MILF Peace talks among them Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Norway, Spain, China, Korea, Brunei, Saudi Arabia; the European Union like Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. There were also the presence of United Nations’ bodies, international financing (International banking-CB, ADB,…) and development agencies and many more. Different concerned Philippine Government lines and local agencies were main discussants and facilitators of the two-day affair. Private entities, business sector, World & Domestic Investment Sectors, peace advocates, civil society organizations (CSOs) and media entities were also visible in the forum.

The development forum started with the presentation of the five major “Clustered Thematic Areas” that comprised the major chapters of the Bangsamoro Development Plan. The thematic clusters are: (1) Economic and Livelihood (2) Environment and Natural resources (3) Infrastructure (4) Social Services (5) Governance, Culture and Identity.

The forum culminated with the messages from the MILF Central Committee Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar which briefly recalled the background of the Bangsamoro struggle and the dynamics of the 17 years peace negotiation which currently ended in the MILF agreeing to a political settlement of the long struggle for freedom and self-governance for the Bangsamoro. He said: “the leadership of the MILF remain committed to the negotiation as they believed that this is still the most civilized and peaceful means of resolving the conflict”. He also emphasized that although still an evolving document the Bangsamoro Development Plan is imperative in the peace and development of the Bangsamoro. Saying the success of the Bangsamoro government lies in the Bangsamoro Development Plan. And added that: “this success is an inclusive one, not only for the Bangsamoro but all people within the Bangsamoro territory and not only within the Bangsamoro territory but to the whole Filipino people.”

President Benigno S. Aquino III in his key note speech stressed that the people in the conflict affected areas of Mindanao had been besetted by violence, injustice and impunity that deprived the people of Mindanao to succeed in development and prosperity level. And added: “Now, however, as Mindanao is becoming an increasingly stable environment, we can see that the region is on the cusp of a profound transformation: from being a Land of Promise to being a Land of Promises fulfilled.” This he stressed is the reason why whenever he has chance in every occasion, he always extends gratitude to those who in way or the other contributed to the success of the on going peace processes.

On the status of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the President emphasized that: “Now, more than ever, it is vital that we focus on getting through the next steps in the process: Getting the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed in Congress, which would establish the Bangsamoro as a political entity.” And added further that: “At this point, I believe all of us are duty bound to make our voices heard. Please talk to your representatives so that we can pass a bill that truly represents the interests of all, and benefits all of the people.”

The two day development forum ended with Panel Discussion hosted by Coco Alcuaz of ANC TV with the MILF Central Committee’s Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar and OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles as main resource persons where the major and prevailing issues on the proposed Bangsamoro were tackled and properly responded to.

By Mike Kulat

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