Extensive talks on big topics in `Kusog Mindanao' forum expected

Mindanao Peace Process • Wed Nov 29, 2017 04:01 PM  •  58   0
By John Unson
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COTABATO CITY --- Organizers are expecting extensive discussions on three issues confronting southerners in a two-day forum a German political education entity is helping facilitate. 

The November 29-30 “Kusog Mindanaw Conference 2017” in Davao City is a joint activity of the Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany and the Kusog Mindanaw peace-advocating forum. 

The term kusog means strength in most Visayan dialects. 

Lawyer Benedicto Bacani, director of IAG, said on Wednesday the two-day forum at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City is focused on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, federalism and violent religious extremism.

All three issues are vitally correlated with the current Mindanao peace process, which aims to put a negotiated closure to decades of secessionist conflicts in the southern region.
 

“We have invited 75 participants to this forum. They are from the business, academe, civil society and religious sectors. Local executives have also been invited to join the activity,” Bacani said. 

The IAG is a partner of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, which is helping promote human welfare and development in different countries through political management forums and governance education interventions. 

The two organizations are involved in common peace-building activities in Southern Philippines and are cooperating on programs promoting the political empowerment of Mindanao’s tri-people, which groups the southern Muslim, Christian and Lumad communities. 

For the German-assisted IAG, the draft BBL, which is now pending in Congress, federalism and violent religious extremism are three issues critical to the future of Mindanao cross-section communities. 

The proposed BBL is the enabling measure for the implementation of the government’s two compacts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front --- the October 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. 

The bill, crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which is comprised of representatives from the government and the MILF, also aims to repeal Republic Act 9054, the charter of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, to pave the way for its replacement with a Bangsamoro political entity. 

Discussions on the viability and complexities of the draft BBL shall be led by BTC Commissioner Jose Lorena, Lanao del Sur Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo and Ishak Mastura of the Regional Board of Investments-ARMM. 

Randolph Parcasio, legal counsel of the Moro National Liberation Front, and Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, are to talk about federalism and its intricacies under Philippine political settings. 

The religious extremism topic in the two-day forum shall be discussed by Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr., Mansoor Limba of the Ateneo de Davao University and Salma Rasul of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. 

Mercado, member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation whose pontifical base is in Rome, had studied Islam at the Al-Azzhar University in Cairo. 

Bacani said he and two peace activists, Ofelia Durante and Charlito Manlupig, will moderate the discussions on the three topics. 

“This activity is in support of efforts to foster peace, lasting peace and sustainable development in Southern Philippines,” Bacani said.
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