TWG's road to the Bangsamoro Summit

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

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UP Mindanao Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao, TWG chairperson, at the Summit 
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EVP Alcantara's Bangsamoro consultation on June 1, 2023 
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A glimpse of TWG's meetings before the Summit
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A glimpse of the Bangsamoro delegation at the Summit

"Our event today is just a reflection or an affirmation of the seeds that our academic leaders planted many years ago.  This afternoon, we hope we can attempt to germinate those seeds." 

University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin) Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao said these words in her welcome remarks to the UP-Bangsamoro Development Institute Summit Consultation on September 13, 2023, in Davao City.  

UP President Angelo Jimenez, the 22nd UP president and first Mindanao-born university president, declared focusing UP’s resources on Mindanao.   

"We are here to discuss the 'open blue sea' of opportunities for collaboration aiming at improving the socio-economic conditions in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao," he said.

UPMin units have made inroads into the Bangsamoro region in recent years. Volunteer teachers and extension workers served conflict-vulnerable communities. UPMin experts and researchers delivered trainings on agribusiness economics, urban and regional planning, and heritage architecture. University units promoted and facilitated university application and admission. 

On June 1, 2023, UP’s Executive Vice-President Jose Fernando Alcantara, backed by a UPMin team, led an initial consultation in Cotabato City. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) agencies, a civil society consortium, and a higher education institution engaged the UP team. On that occasion, the UPMin team shared the outcomes of a project that improved the quality of life in three Bangsamoro communities.

"The instruction from the university president is very clear: to create a Bangsamoro development institute and operationalize it as soon as possible," said EVP Alcantara. “That is assuming, of course, that we have the support of our partners,” he said.

In July, President Jimenez created the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Creation of the UP-Bangsamoro Development Institute. UPMin Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao was designated chairperson, with Vice-President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Leo Cubillan as co-chair. The TWG members included EVP Alcantara, Prof. Maria Victoria Espaldon, Dr. Annette Pelkmans-Balaoing, Gracita Jacinto-Ali, and Martin Hilario Mapolon. 

UPMin’s Asst. Prof. Erwin Protacio, Pahinungod Director Michael Gatela, Dean Cleto Nañola, Jr., Assoc. Prof. Vladimer Kobayashi, and UPMin alumnus Dr. Khalil Guinomla completed the TWG membership. 

"It is imperative for all stakeholders to collaborate to ensure the success of the mission of the Bangsamoro region to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development," said Chancellor  Murao.

On August 18, the TWG met Housing Minister Hamid Barra at the culmination of the UPMin Department of Architecture’s engagement with the Bangsamoro Ministry of Human Settlements & Development, 

On September 11, the TWG held pocket sessions and consultations with BTA Secretary-General Raby Angkal, Trade, Investment & Tourism Minister Abuamri Taddik, Basic, Higher & Technical Education Deputy Minister Haron Meling, Board of Investments Chairperson Mohamad Omar Pasigan and Governor Datu Habib Ambolodto, and Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua.

"During our initial meetings with the ministers of the autonomous region, one of our working group members, who also happens to be a Bangsamoro, said that this is qadar or destiny," said Chancellor Murao. “The Bangsamoro region is now achieving stability. It is now in this transition stage, and the University of the Philippines and the Mindanao State University are opening their doors,” she said.

These preparations led to the broad Bangsamoro participation in the UP-Bangsamoro Development Institute Summit Consultation on September 13, 2023. 

Bangsamoro Parliament Deputy Speaker Abdulkarim Misuari welcomed the UP initiative as a step towards dissolving discrimination in Filipino society. 

"Education is always the core of the personality of a Muslim. That is why, for knowledgeable people, if there's a shortcoming in the society of the Muslims, they always associate it because we are distant from the source of education," said Deputy Speaker Misuari. 

"The Muslims have wisdom from the prophets. One of these is that knowledge always comes before speaking. Because any word or action that is not based on information or education is usually mistaken,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we are here for a brighter future. Education is the best part. The Bangsamoro are ready to receive a better education,” he said.

Mindanao State University President Basari Mapupuno responded with counter-offers of collaboration. 

“MSU also boasts a wealth of expertise and resources that can significantly offer to the success of the UP-Bangsamoro Development Institute,” he said.

In closing, UP EVP Jose Fernando Alcantara said, “Action begins after the meeting. To transform that enthusiasm into action. We're convening a small group to come up with the road map of action to make this happen.”

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