Tag Archives: Bangsamoro

US upbeat on peace process

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said his government continues to support the peace process and the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Goldberg, who visited the city on Thursday, said they are upbeat with the prospects of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, especially with the recent strides that came with the signing of the final peace agreement in March.

“From an international perspective and from a US perspective, we’re hopeful that the peace agreement will lead to better things, (especially) to the lives of the people (of Mindanao),” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

He said they expect that it would also bring more opportunities and chances to develop the “great resources of Mindanao, including agriculture and mining.”

Goldberg expressed support to the establishment of a new Bangsamoro region, which is the centerpiece of the House Bill 4994 or the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg visits General Santos City Thursday, November 13, and is being welcomed by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera (extreme right), Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles (2nd from left), and Councilor Mario Empal (3rd from left). (Gensan CPIO/ Russell Delvo)
US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg visits General Santos City Thursday, November 13, and is being welcomed by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera (extreme right), Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles (2nd from left), and Councilor Mario Empal (3rd from left). (Gensan CPIO/ Russell Delvo)

The BBL will specifically give way to the establishment of a new autonomous political entity, the Bangsamoro government, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee has been conducting public consultations in parts of Mindanao for the BBL, which it targets to pass before the end of the year.

In terms of peace and order, Goldberg assured that the US will continue to provide support to the government in terms of resolving the lingering security problems in parts of the island, especially the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“We support the government’s efforts to try to end these threats — the kidnappings, the violence,” he said.

During his brief swing here, Goldberg met with City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and leaders of the city’s business sector.

He also met with South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region 12.

The US Ambassador visited the city’s fishport complex in Barangay Tambler and briefly observed its operations.

“It was interesting to see the ships offloading and to see the actual cutting of tuna,” he said.

“It’s (tuna) a huge, probably the most important industry in GenSan and as part of the Philippines,” Goldberg added.

The US is one of the top export destinations of the country’s fresh, chilled and canned tuna, which are mainly produced in this city.

Dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” the city hosts six of the country’s tuna canneries and ancillary industries that generate around US$ 350 million in export receipts annually.(AE)

Bridge programs crucial to success of Bangsamoro

The government will have to set aside or look for additional funding amounting to P109.6 billion to ensure the success of the new Bangsamoro region that will be created following the submission of the draft basic law in Philippine Congress.

“The short-term implementation is crucial because this is where we are managing the high expectations of the people in the communities,” Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, chair of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) said during the Philippine Development Forum held at the SMX Convention C enter in Davao City.

The additional funding requirement is on top of the P116 billion already appropriated for the different agencies under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Dipatuan said.

The proposed Bangsamoro Development Program, he added, has already been submitted to President Benigno Aquino III.

The bulk of the funding will go to short and medium term programs that are designed to jumpstart and pump-prime the Bangsamoro ‘economy’ and in “strategic interventions and investments to build a strong foundation for the new region.

Dipatuan however also said that “majority will be funded by the government but this will be determined after a pledging session with the donor agencies.”

“The Philippine government assured us that this plan will not remain a plan but will be implemented, especially for the short-term,” he said.

Dipatuan stressed there is a need for a sustained support from the government for the long-term.

Alam nila pag hindi nasustain, wala din (They know that if it won’t be sustained, nothing will happen),” he said.

Meanwhile, Aquino briefly graced the Philippine Development Forum held in Davao City where the BDP was to be presented to him. The president however thanked those who helped make the government-MILF peace process successful.

The Philippine government and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), ending more than 4 decades of internecine war in predominantly Muslim areas in Mindanao.

The creation of the Bangsamoro region, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is the key feature of the CAB..

“The value of lasting peace for a region like Mindanao ‘is beyond measure.’ For years, our countrymen in areas affected by conflict had been shackled by violence, injustice, and impunity; they were deprived of opportunities to succeed; and prosperity was seemingly reserved only for a few,” Aquino said.

Aquino called on foreign development partners to help the government in the rehabilitation and recovery of Mindanao.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad and other senior leaders of the MILF attended the forum, as well as representatives from the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, United Nations Development Programme, United States Agency for International Development, the European Union and other donor agencies.

Malaysians bullish over Bangsamoro

Story by Bong S. Sarmiento

DAVAO CITY—Malaysian companies are now positioning themselves as they look forward to the creation of the Bangsamoro region following the singing of a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Har Man Ahmad, senior manager for ASEAN unit and former Embassy of Manila Trade Office (MATRADE Manila) commissioner, said Malaysian businessmen are looking for possible joint venture with local corporations for oil palm and rubber plantations in the Mindanao.

More than 50 Malaysian companies attended the 2nd BIMP EAGA-IMT GT trade fair held recently in Davao City in a bid to forge partnerships with Mindanao investors and from the other participating countries.

The Malaysian government brokered the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Peace is a very important factor [in putting up an investment],” he said in a press conference,” Ahmad said in a press conference.

A bill seeking the establishment of a new autonomous region in Mindanao to replaces the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has already been transmitted to Congress.

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will give the new autonomous region greater political power and control over natural resources in the proposed Bangsamoro region.

According to the oil palm industry profile prepared by the Mindanao Development Authority in October 2011, the country has about 55,000 hectares of land planted with oil palm, 80 per cent or 44,000 hectares of them in Mindanao. For rubber, the island reportedly has 137,000 hectares as of 2011.

A joint Filipino-Malaysian venture in oil palm industry has existed in Mindanao through the Agumil Philippines Inc.

“We [also] want to explore business opportunities through direct supply, distribution or partnerships,” Ahmad said.

BIMP EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area, an initiative launched in 1994 to accelerate the growth of less developed areas of the participating countries.

IMT GT stands for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Growth Triangle, which was formed a year ahead of BIMP EAGA.

MATRADE Manila Trade Commissioner Nyaee Ayup said they are aggressively promoting the Malaysian products and services closer to the BIMP EAGA market, which they considered as an important sub-region in Southeast Asia.

“Mindanao is a new market to us,” Ayup said.

The major Malaysian companies that took part in the trade fair include Labuan Corp, TNB Remaco and MDS Consultancy Group Sdn Bhd.

The others were Duha Edar Sdn Bhd, Azaib Holdings Sdn Bhd, Ambang Dorongan Sdn Bhd, Millions Star Trading Sdn Bhd, I-Tim Holdings Sdn Bhd, Forest Interactive Sdn Bhd and Adtech Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The top performing goods traded from the region include coal, seaweeds and agricultural products from Indonesia; tuna, banana and pineapple from the Philippines; timber and palm oil from Malaysia; and petroleum from Brunei.