A month later, draft B’moro Basic Law still under review by PNoy’s office

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) — One month.  The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to the Office of the President (OP) on April 21 has not been sent to Congress as it is still being reviewed by the OP as of May 23. By Carolyn O. Arguillas.

Read full article at www.mindanews.com

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USIP Peace Education Project Report


Brief Report on the Second History Seminar-Workshop in Iligan City

The workshop, conducted on April 23-25, 2014 at Crystal Inn, Iligan City, ended with a resounding success.  This event is a follow up workshop of the one conducted in June 2013, under the auspices of the UH Center for Philippine Studies in cooperation with Mindanao State University. This workshop is part of a grant provided to CPS by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to enhance the capacity of history teachers in their effort to inculcate peace culture, and develop peacebuilding skills and abilities among their students.  The project team consists of Dr. Federico Magdalena (Project Investigator, UHM), Dr. Faina Abaya-Ulindang (Coordinator for MSU Iligan Institute of Technology), Dr. Samuel Anonas (Coordinator for MSU Marawi campus), and Dr. Jamail Kamlian (Coordinator for MSU Tawi-Tawi campus).

A detailed report of the workshop is found in this Link.

The 3-day workshop was graced by Dr. Sukarno Tanggol, Chancellor of MSU Iligan Institute of Technology, who gave the opening remarks.  The program closed with a short statement from Dr. Ed Ignacio, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the same institution.

Forty teachers participated in this 3-day workshop. They represent five campuses of Mindanao State University (Marawi, Iligan, Tawi-Tawi, Naawan and Maigo). All of them are involved in the teaching of History 3 (History of Muslims and Lumads) in Mindanao, a course required for all students of MSU.  During the workshop sessions, they assembled in three groups and discussed ways of improving the history curriculum as well as the manual developed for this purpose by some of their co-teachers.  They proposed to make this curricular initiative infused with peace education as a model for all courses not only at MSU but in all tertiary institutions in Mindanao. They lauded the project for its support to the history faculty who have benefited from the capacity building effort of the project as it encourages peacemaking among the student beneficiaries.  Additionally, they expressed the need to sustain development of skills and tools in peacebuilding and evaluation, among them is Focus Group Discussion, in aid of effective pedagogy.

Four Mindanao speakers lent their expertise in this event, which we did not have in our June 2013 workshop. They included Fr. Eliseo Mercado, past president of Notre Dame University, an ardent peace advocate who was a frequent lecturer in fora sponsored by the US Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.  He gave an update of the recently concluded peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation.  Another powerful speaker is Dr. Grace Rebollos, former president of Western Mindanao State University and civic leader in community peacebuilding. She also gave an excellent lecture on the ground realities in peace negotiations during the 2013 Zamboanga City caper that resulted in tremendous loss of lives and property during the 3-week siege initiated by the Moro National Liberation Front.  The third speaker is Dr. Datumanong Sarangani,  Professor Emeritus at MSU.  He helped guide the participants about history curriculum making as part of the university mandate, and in synch with the recently concluded peace talks (March 27, 2014) in Mindanao between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.  Finally, Prof Raymond Llorca, another Professor Emeritus from MSU, presented his commentary on the History manual and called attention to some social issues for future consideration. He noted, for example, the fact that the Lumads are fast disappearing (if they have not disappeared yet).   They constitute an interesting topic in history as well as anthropology (ethnography).

In that workshop, the Project Investigator also made a report on the status of the USIP project and presented some statistical data on the gains of the curricular program. He noted that the students significantly improved their knowledge of local history, and became aware of certain issues (e.g., discrimination, mining) related to minorities. In one campus (Iligan), for example, students have turned into peace activists. However, attitudes and values toward other ethnic groups have remained about the same.

After the workshop, the Project Investigator  stayed around for a while and worked  with the teachers to ensure the proper revision of the history manual and its possible adoption as textbook for all campuses of MSU.  He also met with the coordinators for future activities, as well as with the secretariat for the workshop proceedings and other matters.

The project team has proposed a roundtable discussion to present the initial results of this curricular experiment on peacebuilding at the Philippine Anthropological Conference (UGAT in Filipino) in Baguio City, on October 23-25, 2014. This is a major part of the project’s activities for this year in terms of visibility and dissemination. Such presentation also resonates well with the peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

Mindanao is creating waves nationally these days. The USIP project is catching some ripples in the hope of becoming part of the national conversation on peace and development.

Prepared by:

Fred Magdalena
May 15, 2014

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Mindanao businesses losing P30M an hour due to power crisis

COTABATO CITY, Philippines  — Mindanao’s business community has been losing some P30 million for every hour of power outage, industry leaders said.


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Muslim youth holds intramurals in Sarangani April 23-25

Muslim youth holds intramurals in Sarangani April 23-25

ALABEL, Sarangani (April 22, 2013) – Around 4,000 guests and delegates from the 49 Islamic schools in Sarangani are joining this year’s Musabaqah, an event the province is holding to develop sportsmanship among Muslim youth through academic and athletic competitions.

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Peace agreement at last!

Government and MILF ink peace deal in Mindanao

By Federico V. Magdalena, PhD

HONOLULU: March 28, 2014. After 17 years of long, contentious peace talks, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have signed the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacanang before officials and invited guests. Among those witnessing the historic event are Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and officials of the two panels Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Ging Deles, Al Hadj Murad Ibrahim, and Mohagher Iqbal. Also present are Malaysian facilitator Ab Ghafar Mohamed, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, foreign dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Germany, Turkey, the United Nations, and local officials.

This event is historic because President Aquino has accomplished what his mother and former Philippine president Cory Aquino had failed to do. In 1987 Cory sued for peace and brought back Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front, MILF’s rival, to the negotiating table. The talking points were based on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, as Misuari scaled up his demands to cover Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan as areas of Moro autonomy. The talks bogged down after months of futile discussions.

Much later, the MNLF forged an agreement in 1996 with the next administration under Fidel Ramos. However, five years of running the Moro autonomous government under Misuari did not amount to much, until Aquino came to power in 2010. He declared that this autonomous government was a “failed experiment.” That gave more reason for the peace panel he had formed to talk serious business with the MILF, a breakaway faction that was hell bent on pursuing Muslim independence. Then in October 2012, the two groups signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that led to the current peace deal, acronymed CAB like a fast moving vehicle. In effect, it just operationalized and consolidated four annexes (transitional mechanisms, power and wealth sharing arrangements, and normalization) that substantiate it.

Moro (Muslims) rebels have been up in arms in a secessionist struggle since the early 1970s. In effect, the war that ensued has made everybody a loser. Consider this: Since that time, more than 120,000 have died and millions of people displaced. It costs the government billions of pesos worth of lost opportunity, heavy military expenditures, and untold damages to property.

At this time, there is reason for jubilation. CAB promises to end four decades of Islamic secessionist conflict. It hopes to bring about lasting peace, development and prosperity for Mindanao. MILF Chair Ibrahim calls the pact “the grandest articulation of our aspirations.” Mindanao’s first cardinal Orlando Quevedo opines that this will terminate the injustice committed against the Moros since colonial times.

But there is also reason for concern. The roadmap to peace and development is long and arduous, its path is bumpy and littered with numerous obstacles. For one, Congress has to approve the proposed bill, already called Bangsamoro Act though it is yet to be submitted sometime this year. The peace agreement cannot fly unless it wins the support of Filipinos through their representatives, as well as by civil society.

What now? After CAB is the congressional passing of a Bangsamoro bill that eventually replaces the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. As the devil is always in the detail, expect heated debates on how the political arrangements shall play out. What are the limits of sharing power and resources? How are the constitutional issues be resolved, for instance, regarding the state’s monopoly of resource exploration? Can the Bangsamoro form a “ministerial government embedded at the heart of the Philippine presidential system? Once approved, a transitional body will be established until the officers of the Bangsamoro government are elected in 2016.

Feisty Senator Miriam Santiago has fired a volley of criticisms against CAB for being unconstitutional. Santiago said the agreement violated the constitution for (1) allowing a “sub-state” for the Moros far beyond the limits of autonomy and thereby derogating the sovereignty of the central government, (2) providing for powers reserved for the state (e.g., exploring natural resources), and (3) that the executive misrepresented itself as the government when there are three branches that comprise it, among others. These issues can be settled in the legislature by granting more powers to, or allowing power-sharing schemes with, a local government like the Bangsamoro. After all, the 1987 constitution recognizes it as one of two regions entitled for autonomy. Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas also believes this arrangement is legally possible though it provokes intense and protracted debate. On charter change, he believes that “if it is not prohibited, then it is allowed.” The terrain is wide open, and civil society groups can also play a critical role in the shaping of public opinion.

Still, some sectors may harbor “spoilers” who may not want the agreement to prosper. Some members of this group protested the CAB predecessor, called the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain, due for signing in Kuala Lumpur in August 2008. The Supreme Court ruled the MOA-AD out as unconstitutional.

Unmindful of these scenarios, the general feeling in Mindanao seems to be one of approval. More than 85% yearn for peace, according to latest SWS surveys. Moros in particular have been expecting peace as an alternative to the pestering conflict that has threatened their lives, including Christians and Lumads (tribal communities). The peace deal is welcomed by many Mindanao residents who have become war-fatigued. The Mindanao Business Council believes it will spur growth and investments. Moody’s credit rating for the Philippines may go up even higher than Baa3 it reported in 2013.

For now, the talking has yielded fruits and may silence the guns that do most of the exchanges. As part of the deal, the 12,000 or so MILF rebels will be “decommissioned” gradually and their arms kept somewhere. Meanwhile, shortly before the approval of the CAB the news also reported the arrest of US Senator Leland Yee (Democrat, California) who was charged with arms dealing with “Mindanao Muslim separatists.” The MILF has denied involvement in this matter. Hope that there is no connection between these two events.

Will the peace treaty finally deliver what it purports to do?

Cardinal Quevedo and other advocates argue that peace is the only alternative, now that CAB is finally in motion. Local news from Mindanao banner stories about those who see in it much progress and more hope for a better life. Euphoria pervades the air in many provinces, particularly in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, the MILF lair. There, people in all walks of life, including women, children, and even the aged, express high optimism over a good future. Women paint their faces with green, a signature color of MILF. Mothers now envision their sons to grow up as workers rather than rebels.

But some are not convinced about the turn of events, expecting more troubles. For example, a splinster group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters vowed to continue the secessionist goal of independence. Led by Umbra Kato, who is reported to be either dead or ailing, the BIFF has stepped up attacks against military targets in the Cotabato areas. BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama has told Agence France-Press: “We want independence … through armed struggle.”

Also, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III (deceased) and his Tausugs sympathizers felt sidelined by the agreement, and government inaction in the Sabah issue. Kiram’s forces were involved in a deadly incident in Lahad Datu, Sabah in February 2013. His brother led a group that pressed the Malaysian government to recognize their historic claim over Sabah. Joined by MNLF fighters, they engaged Malaysian troops that resulted in heavy casualties. In fact, Misuari’s MNLF was also responsible for the Zamboanga City siege in September 2013, a reprise of the 2001 Cabatangan incident. Both groups have made veiled threats that more wars in Mindanao are forthcoming.

Concerned citizens are hopeful that the Bangsamoro government would face off these problems. Will it be make or break for the MILF? Or to the national government?

Keep tab of events that unfold soon. Abangan!

This essay has been published at: Hawaii Filipino Chronicle, April 12, 2014.

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Philippines, MILF sign peace agreement

MANILA, Philippines—Where before his predecessor has failed, President Aquino on Thursday presided over the signing of a historic peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels after 17 years of negotiations carving a new, autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

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MILF peace deal signing Thursday…

“This is it.” “As far as what is possible without making false promises, this is it, and we continue to hope that the entire Bangsamoro will see it that way as well,” Teresita Quintos-Deles, the presidential adviser on the peace process, said on the eve of the signing of a peace agreement with the bigger Muslim insurgent movements in Mindanao.

More details here.

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Call for Papers

PSA Conference, 12-14 Nov 2014 – Call for Papers (Circular #1)-1

Philippine Sociological Society Conference, 16-18 Oct. 2014

36th UGAT Conference, 23-25 Oct. 2014

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Women in the Bangsamoro speak up on “better Bangsamoro for all”

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/07 March) — Two women members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) called on women in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity to collectively raise their voices so they can be heard by the male-dominated BTC and to demand transparency and inclusivity in the ongoing drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). By Carolyn O. Arguillas.

Read more http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2014/03/07/women-in-the-bangsamoro-speak-up-on-better-bangsamoro-for-all/

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CPS Digital Project featured at MSAP Hawai‘i

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Muslim Societies in Asia and the Pacific (MSAP) has just published a short feature article on the digital project undertaken by the Center for Philippine Studies, which is part of the larger eMindanao initiative. This project is an annotated bibliography … Continue reading

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