Message of Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, BDA Chairman during the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) Closing on April 18, 2017 at the SMX Convention Center, Davao City
Assalaamo alaikom wa rahmatollahi wa barakatoh.
My due courtesies to my co-chairs in the MTF namely Sec. Jess Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Mara Warwick, the daring Country Director of World Bank, H. E. Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, Mr. Richard Rodgers, Political and Public Affairs Counselor of the Embassy of Australia to the Philippines, H.E. Ambassador John Holmes, Embassy of Canada to the Philippines, Mr. Gil Dy-Liacco, Development Assistance Specialist of USAID, other MTF donors, Hon. Architect Edward Guerra who represents Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and other colleagues in the MILF, my colleagues in the Bangsamoro Development Agency, Dr. Steven Muncy, Executive Director of CFSI, Mr. Dam Vertido, Executive Director of Mindanao Land Foundation, Mr. Khalid Hassan, Director of the International Labor Union, representatives of People’s Organizations, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency was created almost 15 years ago in June 2002 in pursuance of the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the GPH-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of June 22, 2001. We were tasked to build confidence on both parties and in grassroots communities on the peace negotiation at a time when many, if not all, development partners were wary of working with the development arm of an active revolutionary organization such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. After 4 years, the Mindanao Trust Fund – Reconstruction and Development Program or MTF-RDP took that crucial leap of faith to become our first strategic partner.
In our 11 years of partnership, the MTF-RDP helped us show the world that we are not a band of violent and war-freak individuals but a group of people committed to the attainment of durable peace and sustainable development of our communities ravaged by several decades of bloody armed conflict. Through the facility’s funding and technical support, the BDA was able to empower community groups such as the People’s Organizations represented in this memorable event by helping them build and manage a total of 515 community infrastructure and livelihood projects in 284 conflict-affected communities across 75 municipalities in Mindanao. These municipalities are not only located in the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but also in other regions where there are considerable numbers of Bangsamoro population such as Southern Mindanao, Davao Oriental and Zamboanga Peninsula.
As you well know, the impact of our community interventions went beyond numbers. In the words of the Chairman of the MILF Central Committee, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, “the BDA played a very vital role in galvanizing support and recognition of the GPH-MILF Peace Process by the Bangsamoro people and other community stakeholders.” In addition, our partnership through the MTF-RDP healed divides among Muslims, Christians and Indigenous People; fostered trust in government and institutions; empowered women, minorities and other marginalized sectors to lead in community planning and capacitated People’s Organization officers and volunteers who now serve as barangay officers or development workers.
The MTF-RDP laid the groundwork for the Bangsamoro people to chart the direction of their future. As an agency that started as a band of volunteers, the BDA is now recognized in community-driven programming and macro-development planning. This was concretely demonstrated when the BDA spearheaded the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan with the support of MTF and other donor partners that made the MILF as the first active revolutionary movement in the world that has a development plan of its own while the peace negotiation has not yet been concluded. Beneficiaries, too, have grown as organized groups knowledgeable in community planning and project implementation. This strengthened the faith of community residents that a solution to the Mindanao conflict is within reach provided that the Bangsamoro people, IP’s and Christian communities work together towards this end
But realities on the ground nowadays point to the fact that our peace process is currently faced with a very serious challenge coming from violent extremists such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the ISIS-leaning Maute Group. I personally believe that the ASG is the product of the incomplete and haphazard implementation of the GRP-MNLF peace agreements in 1976 and 1996, while the BIFF was created as an offshoot of the non-signing of the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008, and the ISIS-leaning Maute group came into being due to the environment created by the failure of the 16th Congress of the Philippines to enact the BBL into law. So if we want to really put an end to this Mindanao conflict, the government must fast track the immediate enactment of a CAB-based BBL and followed immediately by the shift to a federal form of government where the Bangsamoro State will become a component state of the Federal Republic of the Philippines.
It is, therefore, our hope as we embark on the next phase of our journey towards the fulfillment of our dreams and aspirations that our partners – the European Union, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States of America, New Zealand and the World Bank – will continue to walk with us in this challenging but worthwhile path so we may together realize a dignified, prosperous, just and peaceful Bangsamoro.
*Message of Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chairman of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) during the Closing Ceremony of the Mindanao Trust Fund – Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-