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 Bisaya dialects.

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

All three issues are connected to the 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 peace-building activities in the southern Philippines and work together to promote the political empowerment of Mindanao’s Muslim, Christian and Lumad communities.

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

Bangsamoro Basic Law

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, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo (Lanao del Sur) 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 scheduled to talk about federalism and its intricacies under Philippine political settings.

Concerns that the BBL would set aside a separate final peace agreement with the MNLF contributed to the 2013 Zamboanga City siege by a faction led by founding chairman Nur Misuari.

President Rodrigo Duterte has promised a more inclusive BBL and has worked on getting the MNLF and MILF to agree on a common road map for peace in Mindanao.



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.