The Donors’ Forum in Davao City

Not so much expected earlier, the Donors’ Forum held in Davao City last October 11 was a grand success. Aside from United Nations Resident Coordinator Ola Almgren, at least six ambassadors, as well as European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, graced the occasion. Secretary Jesus Dureza was also present. Most of the senior leaders of the MILF also attended.

In his message, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim stated the two top-most challenges for the incoming Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) namely, successful transition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and providing for sufficient funding to the BTA. He also outlined the 10-point priorities of the BTA after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21, next year, foremost of which, among others, are transitioning MILF forces from combat-mind-set to productive civilian life, addressing threat of violent extremist groups in the region, immediate programs in response to the pressing social and economic problems such as poverty, education, health, access to clean water and electricity, etc., and rehabilitation of Marawi City.

According to an inside account, the response of the international community to the MILF’s call for support was resoundingly in the affirmative.

Be this as it may, Chair Murad was crystal clear in his message that no new system of cooperation is to be established as there have been some mechanics of cooperation already established.

“Maybe just to improve or maybe to make it more effective in the present challenges we are facing today,” he added.

To our mind, this clarification is very important given the fact that agreements of the government and MILF in relation to the normalization process are clearly stated and in place, especially the establishment of the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF). The focus of the Donors’ Forum is basically to extend assistance to the BTA and how it can stand and effectively face the challenges and priorities, enumerated above.

No doubt, the help of the international community especially the United Nations is not only crucial but indispensable. In fact, they have been journeying with us since many years back.

Be this as it may, one thing remains valid: The peace process is still Bangsamoro-centered, and the process is still MILF-GPH process with the participation of the international community, to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao. And the principal stakeholders are the Bangsamoro people, represented by the MILF (in partnership with the MNLF), and the Philippine government. They did this and now through their partnership, good things are developing therefrom. In this, we need the help, to repeat, of the international community.



Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF Chairman