Proposed Bangsamaro region to benefit from integration

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Thursday, March 13, 2014


THE proposed Bangsamoro's predominantly Muslim population and culture will give it an edge in the Asean economic integration come 2015.

"Bangsamoro, as a political entity, can be a bridge to the Muslim countries in the Asean region, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. It will be easier for them to coordinate and link investments due to their same culture and tradition," said Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo, executive director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp).

Looking at this opportunity, he said the Bangsamoro can be a springboard to having stronger trade ties with the two countries.

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Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, chair of the Bangsamoro Development Authority board of directors, said they should capitalize on this because Malaysia, Indonesia, and also Brunei will be receptive with the initiatives of the Bangsmoro due to their background.

"We have economic concerns that do not really matter to other areas in the region like the Halal industry and Islamic banking," he said.

However, Dipatuan said the Bangsamoro still faces some major challenges for the Asean economic Integration in 2015.

"Compared to the other areas in the Asean, it is apparent that other players are more ahead of us. The challenge for us in Bangsamoro is the need to capacitate those who will be running the region and strengthening Bangsamoro to deal with the integration," he said.

Dipatuan said there is a need to strengthen the Bangsamoro and capacitate its people in their mechanisms and dealing with partners in the Asean and also in the BIMP-Eaga.

Peace Panel member Usec. Yasmin Busran-Lao said with the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP), this will help and prepare the region for the integration.

"The BDP will play a vital role in developing the region to become a key player in regional trade as it serves as a front door to two of the largest Muslim countries in the world -- Malaysia and Indonesia," she said.

Dipatuan said they will be working closely with the government to prepare Bangsamoro for the Asean economic community and also for the BIMP-Eaga.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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