The University of the Philippines (UP) will be hosting an important consultation meeting with Bangsamoro Transition Authority officials and stakeholders, including: the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government, Local Government Units (LGUs), development NGOs, and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in BARMM, at the Dusit Thani Residences Davao on September 13, Wednesday. Participants will discuss opportunities for collaboration aiming to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Bangsamoro and Mindanao.
Issues and challenges on education, health, agriculture and fisheries, labor and employment, science and technology, human settlements and development, indigenous peoples’ affairs, trade and tourism, and the environment, among others, shall also be tackled.
The event comes the day before the solemn investiture of 22nd UP President Atty. Angelo “Jijil” A. Jimenez, who hails from Butuan, to be held at the UP Mindanao Atrium on Sept. 14. It will also precede the much awaited 1st UP-SUC Summit on Sept. 15.
According to the UP President, “Mindanao has always been considered key to the nation’s progress, being the second-largest island next to Luzon and having been endowed with a wealth of human and natural resources. However, over the past several decades, we have witnessed its development severely stifled due to deeply-rooted problems that cause poverty, underdevelopment, social conflicts, criminality and war.”
Four out of the top five poorest regions, and eight out of the ten poorest provinces in the Philippines, are in Mindanao, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES). The same report cited poverty incidence at above 39% in Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region X (Northern Mindanao), Region XII (Soccsksargen), Region XIII (Caraga), and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Jimenez is calling on all stakeholders to “seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to partner now with the University and allow UP to help them sustain Mindanao’s overall progress,” in accordance with the University’s mandate under Republic Act 9500, which is to lead in the nation’s higher education and public service spheres.
“Today, the interventions and reforms initiated by previous national government administrations are paving the way for the much aspired peace and development in these regions,” Jimenez said. “But we could certainly do more, and in order for these noble initiatives to have more impact on our people,” he added.
“The peace process that has led to the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (Republic Act 11054) and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in 2019, and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, the country’s medium-term development blueprint, offer a grand opportunity for stakeholders and the national government, to sustain Mindanao’s recovery and economic growth, with UP serving as a catalyst and enabler for social transformation,” Jimenez added.
The PSA recently reported that Mindanao’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) has improved to 7.2 percent in 2022, with the BARMM having a 6.6 percent growth on its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These are positive indicators resulting from the reforms already being done.
Jimenez revealed that expert resource persons from both the academe and the government will lead discussions focusing on the UP-Bangsamoro Development Program and the Bangsamoro during this consultation meeting.
“With the UP-Bangsamoro Development Program, avenues for collaboration for attaining the common sustainable goals of UP and the BARMM in promoting access to quality education, improving health outcomes, strengthening the capabilities of SUCs and LGUs, reinforcing partnerships in BARMM, and rehabilitating conflict-affected communities shall be highlighted,” Jimenez said.
To achieve the abovementioned goals, UP is offering its existing expertise, facilities, and programs in its various constituent universities. Among its academic and research institutions to be involved in the program are: UP Resilience Institute; UP National Center for Transportation Studies; UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies; UP National College of Public Administration and Governance; UP Manila National Institutes of Health; UP Cebu Center for Environmental Informatics; UP Mindanao Center for Advancement of Research in Mindanao; UP Los Baños National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; Philippine Genome Center; UP Institute of Islamic Studies; UP Baguio Cordillera Studies Center; UP Mindanao Studies Center; and UP Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts.
The program will have an Advisory Board with members from both UP and BARMM.