MAKATI CITY — Last August 17 and 18, I attended the Social Development Initiatives Summit at the SMX Convention Centre, Davao City. The Summit was organised by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary with a theme, “Malasakit at Pagbabago”. It was attended by around 300 participants from various civil society organisations, peace advocates, academe, and cabinet secretaries of President Rodrigo Duterte and key officials of the different line agencies at the regional level.
The Cabinet secretaries that attended the Summit were Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, DTI Secretary Lopez, and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol. I had the chance to talk to some of them and presented the works of Al Qalam in terms of promotion of Halal industry, Islamic Micro Finance for Small and Medium Enterprises, and Islamic studies.
The Summit was in line with the President Duterte’s framework for participatory governance. It also aims to achieve the following: Inclusive – to engage the government and basic sectors in crafting the social development agenda; Cohesive – to identify doable collaborative initiatives and actionable recommendations; Accountable – to come up with measurable convergence mechanisms.
During the press conference Usec. Peter Lavina, member of the organising committee of the activity told the press, “the Summit is a spin-off of the “Sulong Pilipinas” consultative conference that was organised by the economic team of President Duterte last June 20 to 21. The conference draft the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the present administration.
Overall, the Summit convened private and public sectors to discuss and plan ways of addressing all aspects of sustainable development; with the major focus on education and peace building, environment and disaster preparedness/risk mitigation, livelihood and housing, and health.
I attended several summits and conferences in the past. I do hope that this one, the plans that we prepared will be properly implemented. Active participation of the people from the communities is needed to ensure that social development agenda of President Duterte will become a reality. I am glad that Secretary Jun Evasco and Undersecretary Pete Lavina are both onboard in this government program. Their experiences as activists and members of the CSOs can widen the lens of development paradigm needed in our country today.
In line with the celebration of the 71st Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia, the Indonesian Consular Office in Davao City and the University of Mindanao, in collaboration Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, and Universitas Bhayangkara Jakarta Raya conducted last August 22, 2016, the International Conference on Indonesia and Philippine Arts, Culture and Languages. The conference was participated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Ministry of Tourism, the Consulate General, and students from the three universities mentioned.
I was invited in this conference as a guest speaker during the plenary session. The title of my speech was Sharing Experiences on Indonesia: Culture and Languages. Our engagement and partnership with the Indonesian government and the universities in Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta started last 2012. The topic assigned to me was appropriate because I can share with the participants my personal experiences in learning the Indonesian culture and language.
In my speech, I started by saying that when we say culture, it refers to the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Hence, the topic assigned to me was broad. I wanted to share a lot of learning that I had in my engagement with the universities in Indonesia. But I summarized by talk on three points: Islam and Democracy: Model for the Bangsamoro people, Language and Culture – Strong identity, and my exposure on Islamic micro finance, Baitul Mal was Tamwil.
In my speech I mentioned, after spending several weeks every year in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, conducting an ethnographic observation, discussions on comparative political theory, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia demonstrates that Indonesia’s Muslim leaders favour a democracy in which individual rights and group-differentiated rights converge within a system of legal pluralism, a vision at odds with American-style secular government but common in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Our leaders from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao must study and learn from the Indonesian experience of Islam and Democracy.
I ended my message by saying, “as we explore academic partnerships with the Indonesian universities, we hope that this can also strengthen the dialogue between Muslims, Christians, and Indigenous peoples in Mindanao. Looking at the global complexities of the challenges for justice in the economy and sustainability of life, we need to have an inter-religious and interfaith economic dialogue in Asia and the Pacific that can help promote the common good of all human race.” I hope there will be more universities from Indonesia that will actively work with universities in Mindanao for academic partnerships.