Seminar on “Moving Muslim Mindanao Forward”

In this seminar, Congresswoman Amihilda “Ämie” Sangcopan talks about the development of the nascent Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government in the run-up to the inaugural 2022 elections.


Thursday, 13 February 2020 – Philippine Congresswoman Amihilda “Ämie” Sangcopan, who is the representative of Anak Mindanao Party and who hails from the main Moro ethno-linguistic groups of the Marano and Tausug in the Moros, shared her insights on moving Muslim Mindanao forward. The seminar is the first event held under the ISEAS Philippine Project made possible through funding from the Philippine Embassy in Singapore that will span three years. The Philippine Ambassador in Singapore HE Joseph Yap provided the background to the donation and its intended use.

From left to right: Mr Lye Liang Fook, moderator of the session; Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director of ISEAS; The Honorable Amihilda Sangcopan, Member of the Philippine Congress and speaker for the day’s seminar; and HE Joseph Del Mar Yap, Philippine Ambassador to Singapore. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

In her seminar, Amie gave a systematic account of various topics including the region of Muslim Mindanao (of which the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is a part of); the transition from the previous Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to the current Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (that oversees the BARMM); how BARMM was laying the groundwork for the 2022 elections; Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts; the state of peace process in Muslim Mindanao; and, possible areas of collaboration between Singapore and Muslim Mindanao.

Amie shared that the priorities of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority was to enact priority legislation; draw up parliamentary districts and prepare the bureaucracy to address the bread and butter issues of the population under BARMM. In her view, the establishment of BARMM and Bangsamoro Transition Authority constituted positive steps forward following earlier periods of unrest and uncertainty. Some of the key achievements so far included the filing of 38 bills; the introduction of various social programmes; the decommissioning of 30 per cent of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF); and, the securing of a total of Php 4.15 billion worth of registered investments as well as the creation of 2,724 jobs in 2019.

Although progress has been made, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority also faces a number of challenges in Amie’s view. These include the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City still reeling from the impact of the 2017 siege; the need to reintegrate the remaining members of MILF and BIAF by 2022 (which is only 30 per cent completed); and the urgency to address the socio-economic needs of the population located in the poorest region in the Philippines. 

Some of the audience at the seminar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Several questions were posed during the Q and A session ranging from the question of national identity versus regional/parochial identity, the nature of the party Anak Mindanao, Madrasah education, the shadow economy of Muslim Mindanao, and possible areas of collaboration between BARMM and Singapore. Amie saw grounds for collaboration in the areas of the halal industry, madrasah education and even Islamic banking and finance. HE Joseph Yap also affirmed that these were areas of possible collaboration.