Category: Message

BTA Opens Fourth Regular Session, Chief Minister Bares Updated 12-Point Agenda for 2023-2025

COTABATO CITY The Bangsamoro Transition Authority formally opened its fourth regular session today, June 14, at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC). After the singing of the Philippine national anthem and the Bangsamoro hymn, Wali Sheikh Khalifa Usman Nando delivered his message and led the beating of the agong to formally open the Third Regular Session of the Bangsamoro Parliament.

Wali Sheikh Khalipha Usman Nando on the Ceremonial Opening of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, and the Most Merciful

Praise be to Allah, Lord of Universe, May the Blessings, Mercy of Allah Upon our Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, his families and companions.

His Excellency, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines. His Excellency, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim – Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Honorable Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong, Speaker of the Parliament, Bangsamoro Transition Authority. Honorable Ministers, Members of the Parliament of Bangsamoro Transition Authority. My fellow Honorable Ulama, Local Government Unit, Council of leaders of local government from the provinces to municipalities and Honorable Guests, My Brothers and Sisters.

Assalamo Alaykom wa rahmatollahi wa barakatuho

The blessed month of Ramadan 1443 AH had passed and through which we learned love, brotherhood, compassion, giving and benevolence to others, may Allah Almighty accepted our good deeds and bless us with plenty of goodness. We must preserve this spirit of brotherhood & sisterhood, loving and unity despite of the election’s result. We must let go and set aside any irregularities in the previous democratic process. It is the time to unite, work together and make the center of your interest toward moving on political, social and economic development.

We congratulate members of the Parliament for their commitment and hard work in completing the 24 approved Bills and 242 adopted resolutions for us, to achieve the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people towards Moral Government. I also understand that the effort of all the Members of the Parliament, Ministers and other offices are not enough to answer the needs of our communities for the short period of time.  Consistent hard working, courage, perseverance and patience are our tool to reach the real justice system needed by the People.  By this, the majority will enjoy peaceful environment and prosperity.

We and the Bangsamoro people calling the Parliament to prioritize and strive on shaping the judicial system of the Government in this fiscal year. The challenges and fears in our contemporary reality will be resolved by dealing with a judicial system. Collective efforts and trust with each other will gain support from our Creator, achieving the Justice characterized by: Preservation of Religion, Preservation of Life, Preservation of Wealth, Preservation of Intellect and Preservation of Lineage (Honor)

As Allah Almighty says:

(“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.”) verse 58 Surat An-Nisa.

As WĀLĪ of the Bangsamoro, I visited and observed in Lanao Provinces, Zamboanga Peninsula, Island Provinces, Davao Region, as well as Cotabato Provinces. After more than couple of years of running the transition government, our Ministries have done great achievements in facilitating various social services to improve the life of the people. However, there are still wide area of improvements on the following:

  1. Health services – (more Health centers, Medical services, Hygiene facilities, Access to potable Water, Sanitation program and Improve nutrition program)
  2. Education – (improve access to appropriate education for the poor, additional school Building and facilities in the remote areas)
  3. Transportation and communication – (Road improvement, bridges, farm to market road and in-land water transportation. Generally observed in Ligawasan, Butilen, seaside communities and mountainous area)
  4. Livelihood assistance – Our government needs to understand the situation and increase effort to alleviate poverty; More livelihood interventions and technical support on our farmers and fisher folks that are still in the primitive way of life. Establishing support and economic system on business sectors, such as lending and financial institution.

Allah Almighty says:

(Those who eat Ar-Riba (the usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity. That is because they say: `Trading is only like Ar-Riba,’ whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Ar-Riba. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Ar-Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to Ar- Riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire, they will abide therein.) Verse 275 of Surah Al-Baqarah

  1. Human competencies and accountability.

We reminding our selves, on the obligation and responsibilities entrusted to us, that we are accountable to deliver on expected quantity with quality on time.  Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, says: (You are all shepherds, and you are all responsible for your flock…). And also it was mentioned in the hadeeth on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, said (If the trust is lost, then wait for the Hour (The Judgments Day). He said, “How would it be wasted, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “If the authority is assigned to someone who is not suitable, then wait for the Hour.” Narrated by Al-Bukhari. The Messenger of Allah said: “The most severely punished of people on the Day of Resurrection is a man whom Allah has shared in his rule (authority), and inserted tyranny in His (Allah’s) justice.”

In this occasion, we are inviting everybody, my fellow Ulama, Datus, political leaders and all sectors of  the Bangsamoro people, rising together to sustain peace and development to achieve prosperity.

I would like to express my thanks to Almighty Allah, to our beloved people for untiring support for the cause, the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administration to extend the period of transition and  Brothers in the Arab and Islamic countries, friendly countries  who sympathizes the Moro struggle. Special thanks to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), International communities, United Nations, the European Union and other various government and non-governmental organizations on their continuous humanitarian and development intervention.

May Allah grant us his protection, care and guidance for our success. Finally, by virtue of the authority vested upon me by law, I now declare this session open.

Wassalamo Alaykom Warahmatollahi Wabaratuho [Translated from Arabic]

Speaker Balindong , ‘Bangsamoro Government is the national government’s partner for development’

Bismillahi Rahmaniir Rahiim.

His eminent, Sheikh Khalifa Usman Nando; his excellency, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim; members of the Cabinet, Officers and the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Assalamu Alaikom Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu.

Three years ago, we started the journey of the Bangsamoro. We were full of hopes then, we are so much full of hopes now. What with how far we have managed to come, what with the countless spirited exchanges of sincerest intentions from everyone; Government of the Day (GOTD) and Members of the Parliament; what with the confluence of everyone’s vision very much shaped by the caves of blood, sweat, and tears. We are at the penult. it has truly been an honor for all of us to have been part of this buoyance carving the future of the Bangsamoro as we have been fighting our way before. Remainders toil does not cap what we have face these past years. Now that we didn’t expect it, after all we have been fighting for what is right and what we deserve to this country to be peaceful. From the time it was found by the colonizers to the time the country established and now we are continuing the people’s aspiration for a better Philippines. We have been fighting for a recognition ever since, we never assume to be entitled of anything, we simply wanted to right the wrongs of the history in fact we have list of the recognitions that we are fundamental part of the forging of this country’s very identity. It is beyond questioned that we have now achieved something fundamental and the order of the day is to build on this milestone, to strengthen the institution and forge far-reaching plans for the region and in the process make our national leaders and everyone realize how we can contribute to the whole country’s holistic development.

Inevitably, we have to engage politically. Much of our work after all is political, as we commit ourselves to public service, we have also set our eyes on a vision and with that vision it is but imperative to take a chance on what to perceive at any given time what we think will serve as a good mechanism for us. And as we did before, we choose according to experience, according to history, it was not popular before, it proved to be not a popular choice in this election. We choose wrong politically, but just like before, it should not deter us from working hand in hand with the new national government.

Who could’ve thought we’ll be reaching this far under the Duterte administration? The whole time we have been working with the leaders of the previous dispensation still in cooperation with the President Duterte has work wonders and did not only allow us to show we can cooperate towards the achievement of what is good for Filipinos, it was an opportunity for us to show our brand of service to our people and the region. I am sure given another opportunity, the new national leadership will only see a partner in us. The visionary in the Chief Minister and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leaders will surely coincide with a sedulous leader in President Bongbong Marcos. Even just a short meeting if I may be so bold to recommend will surely set things rights moving forward. At the end of the day, we know our place in overall mechanism of the national government, I am condiment at the same time that the national leaders understand the value of a continuously working Bangsamoro Autonomous Region having established all this we shall be steadfast supporters of President Marcos. We are aware, no doubt, that our significance only comes for the perfect legacy and an institution that will be signed and strengthened consistent with our identity as a people. I can refer with nothing other than the BARMM government. Yes, we were given a special place in our country’s constitution but having an institution that truly encapsulates our integrity has only been achieved now, for that we only owe it to ourselves to remain true to our colleagues. Extraordinaire for our people as we have shown to many weathering all times of vestitudes along the way.

I thought of this as I recall the preeminent leadership shown by our colleagues in the regular government. I am honored as I will forever be grateful to have served alongside them who I now mention for everyone to give you recognition. Honorable Datu Tucao Mastura, CPA, who is now sitting Mayor of Sultan Kudarat Maguindanao; Honorable Sittie Sahara Mastura, Congresswoman of Cotabato City, 1st district of Maguindanao; Hon. Ali Syed Sali, Vice Governor of Tawi-Tawi; Hon. Zia Alonto Adiong, Congressman of 1st District Lanao del Sur, Hon. Khadafeh Mangudadatu now Mayor of Pandag, Maguindanao. They are 5 of our colleagues here in Parliament who are now about to take on a new role in public service. As our colleagues, they made [inaudible] of their time with the parliament and shown how it is to actually serve our people and for that they have stood out and now heeded by the people to be closer to them. I will not be surprised if in the near future many more of our brethren will be taking on the mantle and sharing the country what the real world is. As I have already mentioned, we have faced radical shift, I say that without any equivocation as we know by experience what sacrifice is, how we have endured discrimination and how we continue to be under [inaudible]. All this is for our whole academy learning by the leading to exclude for hard work.

Meanwhile, there is so much more to be done ahead of us. If I may reiterate, our legacy of strong institution has yet to be completed. We have already accomplished many of the fundamental implements or laws needed to share in the different offices of the BARMM and organizing our bureaucracy. Our service never ends, we have to enrich what we have already undertaken and show how this could be put into new and in that whoever takes over from us already has enough tools. Last year, we have inaugurated Bangsamoro Development Plan, let us keep our eye on the ball as they say and be reminded of the objectives as we have set for ourselves and for our people. Constant review, monitoring, and assessment is orders for that we will be able to have an additional immediate action to see. I know we have giving so much thought and energy in formulating this one but foresight is essential we have to see it and anticipate the next expect. Again, with anticipation of the next generation of leaders after all we are but the initiators here, we serve as catalyst for a more substantive future as to come to the young leaders. Most recently, not only me and my family have witnessed the success of a young positional and leader in the family. Of course, I could not help but feel fulfilment and pride, looking back on the other hand, it led me to imagine a future of Bangsamoro with young leaders full of vigor and brilliance taking on the challenges of leadership and forging a much more progressive prosperous region. Many other successful leaders with their equally proud family and friends, this imagination becomes reality in the near future. If we continue to do well with our mandate, nothing’s impossible in political, economic, social environment will surely result to nothing short but greatness.

If I may just add a little more important detail, the regional government has continued to work forcedly with the local government. The treasures Bangsamoro region is our advantage as we are able to amalgamate and work together to achieve bigger more comprehensive. More important in the process we are strengthening our BARMM, the people, and the region. Together, our plans, no doubt, will not be made a reality. It is also paramount to work forcedly with the national government. The divisions that came with a past tense should now be poised to be responsive regional partners of the national government. There can be no doubt that just like us here in BARMM, the new administration will be looking after the welfare of everyone not only to those who supported them in the last politics. We also have to strengthen our ties with the international community. If you remember it has been quite a controversy awhile back because the new regional government is considerably more empowered, Many remain uninformed that they have yet to fully understand what we are capable of. It has been difficult to consider that we can in fact help on the development of country as a whole by strengthening ties with the international community especially with countries to share our culture and faith, with the country realize there is so much to begin in closer cooperative even in collaborative international relations. Let the National Government take care of the political issues but let us contribute in economic and cultural issues and development and we should be able to educate the whole country in the process, ultimately the many leaders of the national level who up to now have yet to appreciate the potential of the region and the partner they already have. The soonest they see that we have not only been doing our best to serve our people but more than that doing so much to contribute to the nation’s peace.

I am confident, the time is there. The better understanding and equal of most people are almost there. I am confident that indeed, we have done our legacy. In the end, we could have not done everything without our people’s strength and confidence. Ladies and gentlemen, it will always be my pride to have known and to be working with Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, Al Hajj. He’s our witness as a leader is an equal and this is shared by all our leaders by government ultimately. I will always be honored to have been serving our people as we all pray as we all share the blessings of Allah SWT. Assalamu Alaikom Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.

 

Chief Minister’s Report to the Bangsamoro, 12-Point Agenda for 2023-2025

A’udhu billahi min ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem

Bismillahir rahmanir raheem

To the Wali of the bangsamoro: Shiek Khalifa Nando, Parliament Speaker: Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong, colleagues in the Parliament, Members of the Cabinet, friends and partners for peace and development, ladies, and gentlemen, my fellow Bangsamoro:

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmahtullahi taala wa barakatuh.

Three years have passed since we, the members of the BTA Parliament took our Oath of Moral Governance in this august chamber. It was a day filled with hope and dedication to be of genuine service to the people. It was a day when we started navigating the challenging but fulfilling transition period. It was a day that when we became the authors of the most important chapters of the Bangsamoro’s quest for lasting peace and development in our homeland. Since then, we have been working tirelessly in building and running a government we can all proudly call Bangsamoro. Ladies and gentlemen, as we open our session today, let us all reflect at some of the results of the work we have done so far and identify the areas of priority moving forward.

 

The Philippine Statistics Authority recently released the official economic figures of the country for 2021 in which the BARMM recorded 7.5 percent economic growth. This makes us the second fastest growing region in the country. Moreover, only four regions have surpassed its pre-pandemic economic growth and we are proud to say that we are one of them. Alhamdulillah

In terms of the major industries’ contribution to the 7.5 percent economic growth, agriculture, forestry and fishing contributed the most with 3.0 percentage points, followed by services with 2.6 percentage points and industry with 1.9 percentage points. Speaking of agriculture and fisheries, the PSA also reported that the BARMM registered the highest growth in the country in terms of the value of production in agriculture and fisheries at 7.2 percent in 2021.

It is also important to note how these figures relate to the poverty in the region. As i have previously reported in this august chamber, the BARMM recorded the most significant decrease in poverty incidence among families over the past three (3) years: from 55.9 percent in 2018 to 39.4 percent in 2021. We recorded the highest and the only double-digit reduction in terms of poverty incidence in the whole country. In 2018, 365,900 families are considered poor in the then ARMM. In 2021, this number is down to 247, 000 families. Alhamdulillah

However, it is worth mentioning that despite the double-digit reduction, at 39.4 percent poverty incidence, we are still the poorest region in the country. This further reflects that while all things considered, we are heading into the right direction, there are still many development challenges that we need to overcome as a people, as a region, and as an autonomous government. Some of these challenges cannot even be resolved by the BARMM alone, it needs strong continuing support from the national government, the international community, and the local stakeholders.

Be that as it may, what is primordial is to ensure that with the challenges and imperfections, we continue to thrust forward and achieve major and small wins for the region.

Speaking of which, last Thursday, June 9, 2022, the Philippine Airlines launched its maiden flight from Cotabato City to Tawi-Tawi, the first ever within BARMM route offered by the said airline. It will have return flights every Monday and Thursday with a possibility of increasing the frequency once the demand gets higher.

This maiden flight is both historic and symbolic. Apart from it being the first within BARMM route offered by PAL, it also partially addresses the perennial connectivity challenge that the autonomous region had to endure for several years. We are hopeful that we will be able to further strengthen the connectivity of our areas and our people.

In addition, the Cotabato-Tawi-Tawi flight also signals the realization of the potential of our region for tourism, trade, and business. As the southernmost island welcomes the prospect of more visitors wanting to experience what this beautiful island and its beautiful people has to offer, we are hopeful that the tarnished reputation – often painted with misconceptions and hasty generalization of our region – will be replaced with accurate and peace-promoting stories. We invite everyone, especially those who haven’t been to our area, be our guests and choose Bangsamoro as your next destination.

As we continue the next chapters of the transition period, let us all work together, regardless of color or political affiliation, for the betterment of our people and our region. There are still many important tasks to be completed, important legislations to be passed, flagship programs and reforms to be implemented under our continuing call for moral governance.

We shall prioritize the passage of the remaining priority codes and other important legislations reflected in the legislative agenda. In addition, in view of the development and contextual changes that the past years have shaped, the government of the day enhanced its twelve-point priority agenda for 2023-2025. These are the following:

  1. Stronger BARMM bureaucracy – we shall further promote good governance through enabling policies for transparency, accountability, and improved overall public financial management. We shall also consider alignment of various development plans from different levels of government to ensure synergy and capacity development.
  2. Digital infrastructure and e-governance – we will enhance the availability and accessibility of digitized government functionalities, with stronger data privacy and security across the region.
  3. Revenue generation and economic comparative advantage – we will prioritize the creation of GOCC and other financial institution, as well as the establishment of economic zones, and other initiatives to encourage investments. We shall realize our economic potentials in natural resources, halal industry, ecotourism, among others that would generate revenues and spur development in the region.
  4. Agri-fishery productivity and food security – we shall continue to strengthen food security in the region by improving production and value chain that must be complemented by policies and programs for our farmers and fisherfolks.
  5. Investment in transportation, communication, and other strategic infrastructure – we shall develop a system of reliable and resilient infrastructure for land, sea, air transportation and communication that would result to better connectivity and economic growth.
  6. Energy security – we need to start the development, exploration, and utilization of other energy resources in the region to foster more investments and generate job opportunity for our people.
  7. Social protection and universal healthcare – we shall boost responsiveness and timeliness of social protection services to mitigate vulnerability to economic, social, and environmental shocks and disasters. We shall also improve the equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare services towards a healthy Bangsamoro.
  8. Disaster resilience and climate-change adaptation – we will implement responsive policies and programs that would help our vulnerable communities to prevent or withstand disasters including infectious diseases while implementing holistic approach to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  9. Quality and holistic education – we will improve access to quality and holistic education through human resource development, skills training, learning continuity programs, and education infrastructure projects.
  10. Support to Marawi rehabilitation – we will continue to provide meaningful IDP-centered support to the ongoing rehabilitation, reconstruction, and recovery of Marawi City.
  11. Peace, justice, and security – we must sustain the peace in the BARMM through stronger coordination and proactive collaboration with law enforcement agencies, development partners, and other stakeholders, while implementing various peacebuilding programs.
  12. Bangsamoro culture, heritage, and diversity – we shall promote our region’s rich culture, heritage, history, and identity through meaningful engagements. We shall also provide spaces for the narratives of the Bangsamoro to be heard and understood.

These twelve-point priority agenda shall shape our budget, legislations, programs, and policies of our region as we move to the next chapter of the transition period.

Ladies and gentlemen, on june 30, 2022, our beloved President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s term will come to an end. The first ever Mindanaon President has consistently exercised strong political will, profound leadership, and love for the people in the past six years. These have been particularly evident in the case of the Bangsamoro in which under his term, the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were finally realized. In addition, the crucial transition period was also extended for another three years. These are just some of the reasons why we will be forever grateful to President Duterte. The establishment of the BARMM is the Duterte administration’s greatest legacy. As such, i invite everyone to join me in saying “Maraming maraming salamat po, Pangulong Duterte”.

As this administration comes to a close, we are optimistic that the incoming administration will continue the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process including the transition period. There are still aspects of the peace process the needed to be realized or be completed such as the implementation of the socio-economic component of the decommissioning process, disbandment of private armed groups, and other important parts of the normalization process that would help transform the conflict affected areas of our homeland into peaceful and productive communities.

We hope that with the call for unity of President-elect Bong-Bong Marcos, the successful and complete implementation of the Bangsamoro peace process will continue to be a priority under his administration. Rest assured that there will be a strong support and collaboration from the Bangsamoro (and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), especially in this regard to sustain the peace in our homeland.

Ladies and gentlemen, i know today’s opening of session may very well be the last one for some of you in this august chamber. In the coming weeks or months, there are possible changes that would shape the next chapters of this transition period. Be that as it may, I want you all to be proud of what you have done in fulfilling our oath to the almighty and to our people. Granted there are areas where we could have done better or done things differently but remember that serving the Bangsamoro does not stop here. Continue to serve through your own ways; big or small, directly or indirectly. Continue to be an agent of peace that you have always been. Continue to address the social injustices and make the dreams and aspirations of the Bangsamoro a lived reality.

Let us all continue to serve the Bangsamoro with pure hearts and sincere intentions. Wa billahi tawfiq wal hidayah. Bangsamoro muna. Thank you and wassalam.

‘Mental health care should be a reality’, says MP Mitmug as bill enters second reading

Full text of MP Rasol Mitmug’s SPONSORSHIP SPEECH ON BILL 147 OR THE BANGSAMORO MENTAL HEALTH ACT OF 2021 delivered last November 25, 2021:

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, honorable members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, ladies and gentlemen, Assalamu alaikum Warahmatullahi taala Wabarakatuh. Good afternoon to all.

We are pleased that the bill, Bangsamoro Mental Health Act of 2021, has now entered the second reading. We thank the members of the parliament who co-authored with us in this measure.

Mental Health is as important as physiological health. This statement, more than ever, reflects the challenges that we encounter as we face this pandemic. Mental health is a rapidly growing concern and we are giving attention to this matter as we address various health needs of our communities in the Bangsamoro. Daily we struggle with stress and anxiety which make mental health concerns serious matter. Stigma on mental illness should never be a hindrance in responding to this critical crisis.

Remember that in this uncertain moments to be kind to yourself, be kind to your mind. But what does it really mean?  Mr. Speaker, we sponsor this bill because all sectors, including employees, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Such effect has been magnified for those with pre-existing mental health issues, they have to suffer more than most because their access to medication is disrupted by the pandemic.

Mr. Speaker, when the pandemic broke out, this representation, together with the Health Organization for Mindanao (HOM), created an online platform which aims to respond to the common mental health needs of communities. Modules and materials have been improved to focus more on Islamic Mental Health (IMH) and are readily available on the IMH website and facebook page. When asked about our motivation for giving attention to mental health, we recounted our local experiences during the Yolanda disaster, Marawi conflict and Mamasapano encounter. The communities directly affected by these crises experienced depressive symptoms and other mental health concerns but less attention was given to that matter. Taking care of mental health can be easily overlooked, hence, efforts concerning mental health in the region should be initiated and supported.

While challenges on mental health is a growing health concern in the region, it is timely that the Bangsamoro region is still on its transition period, thus, codes are still being drafted. Particularly, measures on mental health can still be incorporated by the BTA members which can safeguard the general welfare of BARMM constituents should another pandemic and even other forms of disaster affecting mental health arise. Mental health care should be a reality. Hence, the very essence of this bill.

During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments from around the world recognized the need to scale up quality mental health services at all levels. And some countries have found new ways of providing mental health care to their populations. Our new normal entails a lot of adjustments in our lifestyles, our work schedules, and our children’s schooling. But our new normal should also include major improvements in our public health system and policies and in how we protect our health, both body and mind.

As an autonomous government, it is thus proper for the Bangsamoro region to establish its own Bangsamoro Council for Mental Health, which will be responsible for recommending programs, projects, and policies for the mental health and well-being of the Bangsamoro people. As the region’s inter-agency body on mental health, they will be better capacitated to implement the recommendations mentioned earlier. We also call for educational institutions to adopt a social, emotional and ethical learning approach that integrates the trauma-informed approach increases, and as disasters are expected to increase even more given the worrisome climate change.

In view of the foregoing, the support of all the Members of the Parliament for the prompt passage of this measure is earnestly sought.

Thank you, my dear colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

The bill was filed in the BTA parliament on November 2, 2021 with MP Rasol Mitmug, Jr. as main author.

BTA Opens Third Regular Session, Chief Minister delivers State of the Bangsamoro Address

COTABATO CITY The Bangsamoro Transition Authority formally opened its third regular session today, June 15, at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC).

The opening ceremony is significant, as the Speaker’s Address and the Chief Minister’s State of the Bangsamoro Address is expected to highlight not only the achievements of the Bangsamoro Government, but also its targets and policy agenda.

In his invocation, Grand Mufti Abu Huraira Udasan of the Bangsamoro Darul-Ifta’ (BDI) prayed for continued peace, stability, and security, so that the leaders could overcome the challenges and pursue progress and development for the region. He also prayed for the unity, solidarity, and integrity of the Bangsamoro people.

After the singing of the Philippine national anthem and the Bangsamoro hymn, Wali Sheikh Khalifa Usman Nando delivered his message and led the beating of the agong to formally open the Third Regular Session of the Bangsamoro Parliament. While he praised the achievements of the Bangsamoro Government, he also called attention to other problem areas that the Bangsamoro leadership needs to address. Transcript of his speech below:


Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte President of the Republic of the Philippines.

His Excellency Head of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government – Ahod “Al haj Murad” Balawag Ebrahim.

H.E Mr. SPEAKER – SPEAKER – Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong.

Your Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Members of the Parliament of Bangsamoro.

Honorable scholars (Ulamas).

Datus, leaders of local government in the provinces and municipalities.Dear brothers and sisters, the impact of the Corona pandemic is still before us, as it exhausted our self-government budget, and negatively affected our local and national economy. Also we are still new to this government. But despite the presence of the coronavirus and despite the recency of our time, we have achieved things that others have not achieved. There is no doubt that what we have accomplished within a short period of our assumption of responsibility for reviving our people, whether in terms of providing government aid to the needy in the Moro people, or in terms of enacting legislation, or in terms of implementing projects in the field of health and civil defense, or in terms of attracting our brothers with Arabic education to join the Ministry of Basic Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) as teachers. These all have not happened in the history of Bangsamoro over decades.

However, these achievements are not sufficient and do not meet the needs of our people. It remains incomplete unless we lay down the groundwork for the justice system through which conflicts and disputes related to rights, whether financial, criminal and other disputes, will be settled. Thus, security and safety will be achieved, through which our people will enjoy comfort and prosperity.

While we are talking about the justice system, there is no doubt that the legal system in Islamic law (Sharia Courts) that is guaranteed by the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BOL) comes to our mind. Let me remind you that the terms and conditions which stated in the BOL regarding to the positions in the courts to be created, whether it is related to the post of a judge or a clerk of court or others. If we look at those rules, we can hardly find qualified staff. However, please do not forget that we have courts under the umbrella of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which can be benefited of, as for their long experience in this field.

Means could differ, but the goal is one, which is to achieve justice. So, as long as it is, in my opinion, we can benefit from those who have sufficient experience in the field of arbitration and the court system. We can even ask the Bangsamoro Government (Parliament) to reconsider those conditions agreed upon in the judiciary system and re-studied again if there is a legal space for that. This is if we want to achieve the goal and purpose of establishing the justice system. These are represented in the five goals of Shari’ah, which are: to preserve religion, preserve the soul, preserve the money, preserve the mind, and preserve the honor. Because what concerns us here is the purpose and goal of those ways and means.

On the other hand, despite our achievements, we still need more. For example, in the field of health, we still need health centers to provide various health services to meet the needs of local communities in the countryside, as well as in the field of education. We still need more schools, as there are still many communities suffering from a lack of educational services like schools. Also there are still many of our brothers who are not able to send their children to schools in different areas, especially the Ligawasan. Also if we look at the infrastructure like roads that will connect the villages, then talk and no harm, as we are still behind among the nations in this regard. There are still many of our people who use carts drawn by animals (buffalo or cows) due to the lack of roads.

The unfortunate part of all of these is that human development does not proceed as desired because of these shortcomings, and because of our division and differences. Therefore, I invite you the scholars, the datus and the local and politicians to unite and reunite so that we may rise together and bear the responsibility together, and leave bigotry and intolerance, and put in mind the public interests and prioritize them against our personal interests. We must realize that our progress is in our unity, each of us is in a loophole, we are all responsible before God Almighty, be with us in the revival of our people, for our glory is your glory, and if we fail, you will fail, God forbid. May Allah bless us with his protection and care, Allah is the guardian of success.

Finally, by virtue of the authority vested upon me by law, I now declare this session open.


Speaker Pangalian Balindong then called the session to order and directed Secretary-General Raby Angkal to roll call the Members of Parliament. Out of 80 Members of Parliament, 30 were physically present and 40 others participated through Zoom video conference, thus achieving quorum.

Speaker Balindong reminds Parliament, ‘Focus on work, not critics’

BTA Speaker Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong delivered his address to the Parliament on the ceremonial opening of the third regular session.

Bangsamoro Wali SHEIKH KHALIFA USMAN NANDO, Chief Minister AL-HAJJ MURAD EBRAHIM, Members of the Cabinet, Officers and Members of the Bangsamoro Parliament, Bangsamoro Mufti ABU HURAIRAH UDASAN, distinguished guests, fellow Bangsamoro, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh!!

I am full of pride and honor to be again here in this august chamber as the presiding officer of the distinguished men and women of the Bangsamoro Parliament. I have been in the business of legislation for more than two decades, but my sense of fulfillment as a politician and legislator has never been as profound as it is today. To lead an assembly of dedicated parliamentarians who will shape the future of the Bangsamoro is indeed the pinnacle of my career. On top of that, it is quite a rare opportunity for any political career to be led by a visionary, revolutionary leader of a Chief Minister. One cannot help but think that the stars have aligned for the Bangsamoro that crucial elements needed to achieve true empowerment and regional development are all but there.

I am doubly proud as your Speaker because of the things that you have accomplished in your work. Despite the serious challenges, you were able to adapt – turning every misfortune into opportunity, every challenge into goal and every failure into inspiration. You have proven the naysayers wrong. So far, we have enacted three important legislations – the Administrative Code, Civil Service Code and the Education Code – and we are working hard to finish so much more, complete the transition and ensure that the next administration have everything needed to further progress in the region and verily maximize our tenure.

Perhaps, one would ask – how a bunch of professionals who have little or no experience in legislation were able to accomplish these things. The answer is simple – all of you are sworn into the Qur’an to be the instrument of Allah (SWT) to serve all our constituents in the Bangsamoro. And we are bound to do it, crisis or no crisis, in the best and worst of times, with or without the help of anybody.

But we are not yet through. We are not yet out of the woods. The challenges and problems are still there, made even more complicated by constraints in time and resources.

The term-extension of the transitional government is a critical concern for the Bangsamoro people because the institutions that are fundamental before a new regional government is elected in its place, have not been set up. While we have exerted efforts to accomplish our mandate within the timelines prescribed by the Bangsamoro Organic Law, our output has been severely limited by circumstances beyond our control. One, when we started in 2019, the budget we had was designed only for governance as it is intended only for the predecessor of BARMM. Don’t forget that our mandate is not only to ensure transition but also to govern, which brings us to the second and third reasons, our budget was delayed and the pandemic ensued. Still we delivered so much than what were expected given the limitations.

Don’t get me wrong, we are not finding fault. We understand that the national government’s resources have been spread too thin because of the pandemic. And that everyone has, in some way or another, been affected by the health crisis.

What we don’t comprehend is that certain quarters are opposed to the term extension, even if they do not have a complete grasp of our work and did not experience the difficulties that we encountered. Worse, certain Muslim leaders and politicians who claim to be servants of the Bangsamoro are the ones lobbying to the national government, particularly in the Senate and the House of Representatives, against passing the proposed law for term-extension.

For me, the indecisive support of Congress to our plea once again illustrates the insensitivity of some non-Muslim politicians about the plight of the Bangsamoro and the brazenness of some Muslim leaders to be more concerned on strengthening and perpetrating their political power, rather than help the poor Bangsamoro to get up on his feet and prepare for his future. This despite the collaborative leadership as espoused at the outset by the Chief Minister, Murad Ebrahim.

I apologize if I have offended anybody. But this is simply the truth. We have given the reins of government of the autonomous region to politicians since the enactment of Republic Act. No. 6734 in 1989, but we have seen a little improvement on the quality of life of our people since then.

It is therefore necessary that we allow the Bangsamoro leadership, headed by Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim, to finish the mandate and prove their worth to our people, within a reasonable period of time. Let us give these revolutionaries-turned-parliamentarians a complete chance to realize their vision for the Bangsamoro. Perhaps, their perspective, which is forged in the battlefield, is better than most of us, whose idea may have only been fashioned thru the ballot. They have toiled blood, sweat and tears and lost the stamina of their youth for the Bangsamoro. It will not hurt if you will give them a few added amount of time to fulfill their promise to our people, before the strength in their aging bodies fails them. Besides, all of us here are capable individuals. We have time and again proven that. Our house may have been knocked down by the tempest of problems but we have managed to get up and do our work. And we will do our work again, no matter what.

That should be our mindset right now – to continue working with our best efforts for the well-being of our people, regardless of the circumstances. Let us not mind the cynics and haters, and the sour grapes, whose unmistakable self-interest is the sole basis for their existence. Instead, let us better ourselves and let the quality of our work be “the” standard of public service not only to the Filipino nation but to the entire world.

Indeed, you are the jewels of our office. And no amount of hurtful critique can darken your luster. Your sheer determination and sincere desire to help improve the lives of our people have already overcome the initial challenges and birth pains of our fledgling institution. There is no reason why we can falter even if time is not on our side. In Shaa Allah! Wassalamu Alaikom Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.


Chief Minister Ebrahim Enumerates Target Codes in SOBA

In his report, Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim enumerated that three of the seven priority codes were passed, and that the remaining codes would be filed soon. Aside from listing the Bangsamoro Government’s achievements, he also discussed other legislative agenda of the Parliament.

 

Below is his speech in full.


Subhanaka la ‘ilma lana ‘illa ma ‘allamtana ‘innaka ‘antal-‘Alimul Hakim.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.

To the Wali of the Bangsamoro: Shiek Khalifa Nando, Parliament Speaker: Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong, colleagues in the BTA Parliament, members of the Cabinet, friends and partners for peace and development, ladies, and gentlemen, my fellow Bangsamoro:

Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmahtullahi Taala Wa Barakatuh.

As we open the third regular session of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, allow me to take this opportunity to provide recent updates on our collective work as the interim regional government, present issues that face our constituencies, and convey our priorities as we continue to fulfill our mandate during this complex transition period.

I shall begin with a high note by congratulating this august body for passing the Bangsamoro Education Code. This legislation no t only paves the way for a religious and secular balance but adheres to our longstanding culture, traditions, and history. It also provides recognition that is long overdue for our asatidz and their significant role in molding the Bangsamoro students. We thank our very own Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal and the entire Parliament for making this happen. The swift passage of the Bangsamoro Education Code is a clear manifestation that we can overcome great challenges as long as we put our hearts and minds at the task at hand… as long as we work as one.

I hope that the same level of hard work and cooperation will triumph as we pass the remaining priority codes in this legislative year.

The Government of the Day remains devoted to the cause of lasting peace. During the past few weeks, there were initiatives to make sure that we stay true to that commitment.

Several ministries joined forces in conducting the Bangsamoro Peace and Security Summit last month. The activity adopted a whole-of-region approach among key development players and stakeholders for the speedy reconstruction, rehabilitation, and development of conflict-affected communities, particularly in the so-called SPMS box area in Maguindanao. We will make sure that the situation will not scatter and disturb the gains of this peace process.

We are fully aware that there are few people trying to capitalize from this situation to advance their selfish interest. The Bangsamoro has  gone through so much pain ang suffering already, and we will continue to do all means necessary not to succumb to the threats imposed by a few. Let us all move forward to the path of peace.

Last May 23, we also commemorated the 4th year since the Marawi Siege happened. To reiterate my message during the remembrance, tens of thousands are still displaced, and layers of challenges are piling on, exacerbated by the ongoing health crisis.

This painful experience cannot allow us, in any given day, to turn our backs to our Maranao brothers and sisters. This is the very reason why we have consistently pushed for the rehabilitation of Marawi as part of our priority agenda and overall development goal.

As of May 2021, the Marawi Rehabilitation Program has already approved a total of Php 947, 510, 362 worth of projects ranging from livelihood assistance, resettlement housing projects, healthcare services, cash for work, water, sanitation, and hygiene projects, and other infrastructure projects.

We have also recently signed a partnership worth 400 million pesos with the provincial government of Lanao Del Sur for the upgrading of the Marawi Water System that will provide adequate water supply for 40 barangays in the city. We sincerely hope that these projects will help Marawi to regain its former glory.

Cognizant of the fact that for us to bring the Bangsamoro to its rightful place, we need the strong partnership and commitment of our local government units to the social transformation we envision. An example of such commitment was exemplified with our PARSUGPATAN with the province of Tawi-Tawi. Earlier this year, the regional government went to the said province to launch flagship programs, inaugurate completed projects, and provide update about our work in the transition period.

We inaugurated the Regional Fisheries Research Center and Regional Farm in partnership with the Mindanao State University – Tawi-Tawi. This collaboration aims to boost the fisheries, seaweeds and other wet market products which will translate to high income of fisherfolks and seaweed farmers. In the long run, we envision Tawi-Tawi to be the center of fishing industry in the region and beyond.

At least 25 Million worth of health care facilities and health supplies which includes one (1) unit of sea ambulance, two (2) units of land ambulances, 1 unit of Disinfection Chamber were turned over to IPHO Tawi-Tawi. These are on top of the existing medical programs and assistance we have been giving to support our health workers.

A total of 5,000 armchairs with around 1,300 teacher’s kits, 2,000 learners’ kits and 22,000 learning materials were likewise turned over by the MBHTE as we further improve the education services.

Various infrastructure projects were also inaugurated such as the two story dormitory to be built by the Ministry of Public Works in MSU Tawi-Tawi, 400 housing units worth 200 million  for indigent displaced families and returning Filipinos from SABAH (REFS) under the Bangsamoro Housing Assistance Program (BAHAY Program) of the Ministry of Social Services and Development.

We have also signed an agreement for the construction of 1,000 housing units under the KAPYANAN program. This is extra special as the design of the housing has been tailored fit to the needs and socio-cultural context of the target beneficiaries.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are just some of the major programs and projects of the BARMM for Tawi-Tawi. Similar or equitable projects and programs are also in place for the other provinces in the region. We hope to conductthe same activity in these areas if certain conditions permit such as the COVID19 pandemic that continues to hamper our everyday lives.

Speaking of COVID19, allow me also to share important updates regarding our vaccination program in the region. As of June 13, 2021 19, 831 of the 21, 451 or 92 percent of our A1 priority, the frontline health workers have already received at least 1st dose of vaccine, 46 percent of them have completed their inoculation. The vaccination for the A2, A3, and A4 priority groups is ongoing. We have administered a total of 53, 365 of the 78, 800 shots available. We are assured of the continuous supply of vaccine as we work hard in reaching our target of vaccinating at least 70 percent of our population to attain the herd immunity.

We encourage everyone to get their vaccines as soon as possible. As representatives of various communities from all over the region, fellow Members of the Parliament, I ask that you continue helping us in championing the vaccination program because these are not just doses that can prevent COVID-19, but doses of hope that we may get back the life that we once knew.

Our sincere appreciation to all our health warriors and other frontline workers for their services and sacrifices in this war against COVID19. Maraming maraming Salamat po. Jazakumullahu Khairan. May Allah reward you with goodness.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are a diverse group of people here in the Bangsamoro region united by the common aspirations to address the historical injustices, put an end to the various forms of violence, and bring genuine peace and development through our right to self-determination. This cannot be done overnight but what we can do now is build the structures of governance and pass legislation that will enable our children to live better in a Bangsamoro region we can all be proud of.

I earnestly ask the full cooperation of our colleagues in the parliament as we pass very important legislations starting today. On top of these priorities are of course the remaining codes that we have to finish within the original mandate of the transition period. We shall work hard in passing the Local Governance Code that will further enhance the horizontal and vertical relationship of the LGUs in the Bangsamoro region.

The Electoral Code which is probably one of the most sensitive legislation that this Parliament will enact must be carefully crafted to ensure that we put premium to the betterment of the electorate. We must ensure that it will pave the way for a genuine political exercise that shall serve the core of the regular Bangsamoro government.  We shall transmit this to the parliament as soon possible.

The highly technical and equally important Revenue Code is being finalized by the Cabinet Committee led by the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and Management. Rest assured that this too will be transmitted to the Parliament within the year.

The Government of the Day shall submit to this august body a budget that is responsive to the needs of our people and will enable the region to overcome the pressing challenges we continue to face such as the COVID19 Pandemic. This will be the third time in which we will collectively approve a budget based on the block grant we struggled for us as part of the fiscal autonomy envisioned in the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. It is important to constantly remind ourselves as we deliberate on this budget that behind the figures are the blood, sweat, and tears of our people. As such, we shall continue to allocate and spend them transparently and rightfully.

I trust the collective wisdom of this parliament as we likewise prioritize laws for certain sectors of our society. We shall work on the legislation that will protect and promote the rights of the Indigenous People pursuant to the intent of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. I tasked the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs to work hard and lead this priority.

The Government of the Day shall submit to this Parliament the Bangsamoro Children’s Code that will further safeguard our children’s rights. After all, what we are doing here in the BTA is for our children and our children’s future. I trust that with the proven stewardship of the Minister of Social Services and Development who is also our assistant majority floor leader, this will be passed as soon as possible.

We shall also prioritize the enactment of a Bangsamoro Labor Code that will protect the workers in the region and ensure that both the employee and employers will not be subjected to abuse and unfair treatment. This is even more important considering that the BARMM is now services oriented according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

But this is not to say that we will veer away from the other important aspects of our economy. We must continue to support our farmers and fisherfolks in providing them better opportunities and favorable conditions. We shall pass a law that will enable agriculture and fisheries to prosper. I tasked the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform to make this happen.

We must take advantage of the generally better peace and security by attracting more investors in the region. As a matter of fact, in 2019 we were off to a great start when we were able to register 2.3 billion pesos worth of investments, overachieving our targets by 180 percent. It is just unfortunate that covid19 did not spare this momentum, but I am hopeful that by passing legislation that will further boost investment, confidence, and incentives, we can put the region back on track.

Islamic Finance is gaining grounds in the world. Some experts even say that this is the future of finance and banking. We in the Bangsamoro must ensure that we make this potential a reality in our region alongside with the promotion of Halal industry. As such, a comprehensive framework for the Promotion and Development of Islamic Finance and a Halal Economy in the BARMM shall likewise be prioritized in the succeeding months.

Recognizing the performance of our local government units is vital in fostering an environment where innovation, efficiency, and hard work are incentivized. I passionately believe that some of the best practices when it comes to local governance can be found in the Bangsamoro region. It is about time that we make this known and have it institutionalized for the years to come through a legislation towards this end.

It is widely known that the Bangsamoro is rich in energy sources. While we do have a Ministry that has the primary mandate over these in the Bangsamoro, it must be further strengthened through a legislation that will enable the region to benefit from its resources with a sustainable and mutually beneficial framework. If done the right way, these can leapfrog the Bangsamoro to a progressive and developed region.

We must also look into the existing structures in our bureaucracy as founded by the recently passed Bangsamoro Administrative Code. It would be worthwhile to pass legislations not to amend certain provisions of the admin code but legislations that would enhance or complement few of its noble provisions.

Before I end this speech, I would like to share with you that although there are bureaucratic challenges along the way – the call for the  extension of the transition period has never been more resounding than now.

The President and the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives are giving us the nod that it will happen.

We reiterate, especially to the naysayers, that the extension of the transition period is never about power. It is about ensuring the successful implementation of the Bangsamoro Peace Process.

This is not just the legacy of the MILF or of the Duterte Administration but the legacy of this generation and a gift to the next generations of the Bangsamoro.

Ladies and genetlemen, we cannot afford to fail them.

We must do everything for the sake of the Bangsamoro and submit to the will and plan of Allah. After all, as mentioned in Surat Al-‘Anfāl of the Holy Quran 8:30, Allah is the best planner.

وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ ۚ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

And [remember, O Muḥammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allāh plans. And Allāh is the best of planners.

With all these being said, I hope that we continue serving our people with passion, sincere intentions, and in remembrance of those who sacrificed for all of us.

The Bangsamoro story shall continue and we are the authors of its most crucial chapters.

Thank you so much and Wassalam.


Majority Floor Leader MP Lanang Ali, Jr. then called for the adjournment of the session. The Bangsamoro Parliament will resume tomorrow on its 59th session.

Video series on “The Ramadhan Takeaways”

Screenshot from the original video uploaded on facebook.

The month of Ramadhan is not only a time for fasting, repentance and spiritual renewal. It is also an opportunity to seek further knowledge about the Holy Month, Islam and its teachings. The Office of MP Mitmug Jr will feature short stories through video messages about different people and their experiences and reflection during Ramadhan including interesting topics that Muslims or non-Muslims could add to their understanding of the Ramadhan or Islam.

For our first video, we featured Datu Farouk Camino Ampatuan, a student of Cotabato City National High School – Main Campus who shared his reflection on Ramadhan and how he manages his time as a student while fasting.

Read the full transcript of his message:

Assalamu Alaikom Warrahmatullahi watallah Wabarakatuho

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.

In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

Ramadhan is a month in Islamic Calendar when Muslim observes fasting from sunrise to sunset. And it can be a difficult month for many to get thru this, especially us students who have to go through online learning without eating and drinking.

Ramadhan is considered to be one of the holy months in Islamic Calendar. Kindness, forgiveness and charity are often pursued as a good practice of our faith. And it also time to show compassionate and empathy to those in need. For me, many Muslims uses [sic] Ramadhan as a time to reset and start anew. Creating new goals and improving old ones and improve one-self, and rejuvenate their spirit. Fasting provides us spiritual perspective that allow us to understand the less fortunate in poverty and those in need. Let also remind us to not be wasteful of Allah (s.w.t) blessings.

As a student during this holy month, we had a lot of problem to take with. One of the hardest scene that we go through is a lack of concentration and a lack of space. Due to the online learning we have a lot of video conferences and screen type. With this, we feel exhaustion and headaches. But one thing that I can advise to my fellow learners here is to start and plan your time table. Schedule organizing your school works, your revisions, meals, prayers, because this would help your mental health and your well-being.

May Allah bless us, our family courage and strength. Shukran jazilan. Ramadhan Mubarak.

Wa Assalamu Alaikom Warramatullahi Watallah Wabarakatuho.

Watch the full video here: https://cutt.ly/5vS0SSi

*Datu Farouk Camino Ampatuan is a grade 10 student from Science Technology and Engineering Program of Cotabato City National High School Main Campus Organizations. He is currently the P.I.O of the Supreme Student Government of CCNHS MAIN CAMPUS, President of Youth for Environment of School Organization of CCNHS MAIN CAMPUS and President of Science Technology and Engineering Program.

 

Keeping our humanity intact: A message to the graduates of MSU Maguindanao

Full speech of MP Rasol Mitmug, Jr. as Guest of Honor during the 47th Commencement Exercises of Mindanao State Univeristy – Maguindanao on March 26, 2021

“Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu…A good and prosperous day to everyone!

I am honored and elated to be invited to deliver, what I hope to be a motivating and engaging message, to the promising young men and women in front of me.

Last year, we had an unexpected turn of events due to the pandemic, and graduation rites were postponed. The myriad cancellation of ceremonial events for the students has been a source of distress, adding to an already depressing situation. In the midst of everything, there was one little post in our page that garnered a lot of engagement. Since we could not deliver graduation messages last year in person we decided to post something for our students in our facebook page. It was a simple message of “Kamusta po kayo? How are you holding up?” to our students and empathizing and understanding their confusion and disappointment of having a rushed goodbye with their institutions and schoolmates. Surprisingly, the post blew up with thousands of likes and shares. We felt that students in the Bangsamoro, even outside BARMM, have been comforted by the message that in the midst of pandemic their worries are validated, and that it is important to acknowledge their anxieties and fears, and reach a level of optimism as we all face a new reality. From this, we could learn how important compassion and mindfulness in those trying times. Now we have come to this. We are slowly getting back some semblance of normalcy, although in a form of new normal, and only hoping that we can adapt accordingly to our situation.

The Mindanao State University – Maguindanao is an institution for academic development and excellence. But it is more than that. From what I’ve seen and witnessed, it is committed in providing cross-cultural and inter-religious understanding across the campus colleges and communities, academic and social programs, all in achieving its goal for producing highly competent leaders and workers in various fields for the development of the Bangsamoro. It is an educational institution aiming and hoping to generate value-laden professionals who take their roles responsibly with integrity and honesty. In Shaa Allah.

One of the most powerful instruments in attaining transformational change is EDUCATION. It is a game-changer for the future, an arbiter for decision-making, and a tool for empowerment. Empowering the people is empowering the community where they belong. In the same vein, sustainable reform requires active regional citizenry.

When teachers or professors encourage the students to be more responsible in a general context of handling consequences of their actions, they are actually preparing you, their students, for the greater arena, outside of your training ground—which is ADULTHOOD. Keep in mind that there are certain things that are not explained by some proximate events. Along with the guidance and instructions of your professors, as well as the realization of your subject realities, you will be able to pursue and achieve their essence and value. Your potentials will be discovered and in turn, be your guide on what path to choose in your respective careers and direction in lives.

The challenge now lies within us, within the new graduates.

This graduation is not an ending but rather a beginning. That is why we call it “commencement.” Thus, education does not stop here. Life is a learning curve. Expect anything to be thrown at you. Learn to overcome them but while doing so, acknowledge your weaknesses. Fess up to your mistakes. We don’t have answers to everything but, believe, that as you journey on, you will get to your answers. And when you found your passion or calling, devote fully to it. You are now part of something special, cherish it, and defend it. Bear in mind that when priorities clash and greater opportunities come along, always remember your values and be guided by those, not your perceived necessities. As

Adam Braun said, “Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring.”

As you traverse the professional arena, you will encounter adversities, as well as diversities. We learn that diversity is not only by religion, race or culture. Sometimes, diversity in perspectives is what troubles our society the most, but whatever side you belong to, there is always a room for a dialogue, a conversation, a way to manage disparities so that it would not define our relationships in the long-run.

Just a little glimpse of what we do in the BARMM — As someone who worked in the education sector, and now part of the committee on education in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, we are exerting efforts to establish a quality and accessible Bangsamoro educational system that is complete, relevant and responsive to the “educational” needs of the Bangsamoro people. The Bangsamoro government is mandated, like any other form of government, to put emphasis and prioritize the development and growth of educational institutions. The thirst of students for education should be satiated through efforts to improve the standard of education, and to enable students ample opportunities to pursue their education knowing that there are institutions accredited to provide quality education.

To this year’s graduating class, as you go through an important transition in your life, and I just want to reiterate this since this is where I’m coming from, I want to encourage you to place more importance to what our community needs. Because the quality of service we impart to the people is in itself an immeasurable achievement. It is through giving back to the community where we belong where we experience true satisfaction.

And with that, whatever you do in life, after this graduation, after achieving everything that you’ve envisioned, remember to blanket your journey with respect, integrity and humility. The world, with all of its complexities, will challenge your humanity. But the choice and responsibility is yours to make, whether you would compromise your values over circumstances beyond your control. At this moment, the most important thing is to keep your humanity intact.

Mabrouk to all the graduates. Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.”