July 24, 2019
CURRENT AFFAIRS

​Revival of barter trade should prevent illegal drugs, smuggling, human trafficking

SOON to be revived, the barter trade system in Mindanao should not be abused.

It should not be used to deal in illegal drug trade, smuggling, and human trafficking, etc.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 64 on October 29, 2018, reviving the barter trade system between Sabah in Malaysia and Mindanao. The unconventional economic activity had existed for a century linking the Moro enclaves of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa).

Western Mindanao (Region IX) covers BaSulTa, which for many years since the 1990s and still today has been the hotbed, except perhaps for Tawi-Tawi populated by the Sama people, of kidnapping and terrorism-related activities.

They are activities that people may also say about Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. For terrorism has no boundaries, religion, race, or political persuasion. Terrorists may come from either what is called the “left” or the “right” of the political spectrum, white or black, brown or colored.

Not incidentally, BaSulTa, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur formed the core of the abolished and unlamented Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and still are the core of now the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

To implement the ancient barter system that involved the people of BaSulTa, the President created the Mindanao Barter Council (MBC) chaired by the head of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (now Secretary Ramon Lopez).

1 11 a DTI Sec Ramon Lopez
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez (right) bats for a stronger bilateral cooperation with Malaysia on the ancient barter trade system as the Philippines is about to revive the old livelihood of Moros (Muslim Filipinos) in Western Mindanao. With him is Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ignatius Darrell Leiking in their meeting on March 8 as part of the visit to the country of Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Lopez also pushed for a cooperation on halal trade. (Photo: DTI).

His vice chairmen are the secretary (Datu Abul Khayr D. Alonto) of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the commissioner (Rey Leonardo Guerrero) of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

During the meeting of the two trade officials, Lopez “pushed for greater bilateral cooperation on the area of barter trade between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

His proposal jibes with the EO 64 reviving the barter system. He also linked the barter trade system to the promotion of the halal industry for the two countries.

“We should really make these areas of cooperation work as it will create and bring more economic activities to both Filipinos and Malaysians. The barter trade as well as the BIMP-EAGA will mean a lot to our people,” Lopez said.

Joint Philippine-Malaysia Trade Task Force

The President also included as representatives to the MBC from agencies such as the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department Agriculture (DA), DTI-ARMM (now BARMM), Maritime Indusry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

EO 64 also allows the MBC to include representatives coming from the “major Muslim ethno-linguistic groups such as but not limited to the Tausug, Maguindanaon, Maranaw, Yakan, and Sama, to participate in its proceedings.”

The MBC’s Php10 million initial funding will be sourced out from the Department of the Budget and Management (DBM), with subsequent budgetary allocation to be included in the budget of DTI.

SDN — Science and Digital News learned that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the revival of the barter system is still being crafted, with those concerned already able to meet three times as of this writing and discussed what should get into the IRR, among others.

The meeting on March 7 revealed that they were targeting the second quarter of 2019 to finished the IRR.

A Joint Philippine-Malaysia Barter Trade Task Force was also proposed during the meeting.

Three working committees were also discussed, such as Allowable Goods and Valuation Committee for the listing of goods and commodities to be covered by the barter system; Policy Committee tasked to formulate registration, accreditation and fees; and, Infrastructure Committee which will evaluate ports and infrastructure requirements.

EO 64’s Section 1 says the MBC “is hereby established to supervise, coordinate, and harmonize policies, programs and activities on barter trade in Southern Philippines.

Among its functions include facilitating the establishment of an enabling environment conducive to the growth and development of barter in Mindanao.

The MBC will also come up with rules and regulations on the registration or accreditation of qualified traders authorized to barter within the Barter Ports to be established.

Section 8 (Sunset Clause) of EO 64 says “the MBC shall perform its functions…until the Bangsamoro Government is organized and an office on barter becomes fully operational.”

Meanwhile, those who will engaged in a revived barter system must know — without saying — they are expected to toe the law.

Lopez had “stressed that strengthening of barter trade system in Mindanao should not be abused for illegal activities to proliferate such as illegal drug trade, smuggling, and human trafficking, among others.”

The DTI head explained that EO 64 was issued to provide more livelihood and income to the small communities covered by the three provinces of BaSulTa.

Lopez also acknowledged the MBC’s functions will be taken over by the BARMM government once it is established.

DTI Undersecretary for Special Concerns Abdulgani Macatoman in an interview with SDN — Science and Digital News welcomed the revival of the barter system through EO 64.

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Trade and  Industry Undersecretary for Special Concerns Abdulgani Macatoman. (SDN)

Moros have long tradition of trading with other countries

He said if the barter system is to succeed, it requires a two-way trading for both the Philippines and Malaysia. It will not be successful if only Filipinos are bartering goods, he pointed out.

Macatoman is in-charge of the barter trade affairs at the DTI. He was a successful young businessman before he joined the government as assistant secretary at the DTI, then promoted through an appointment by the President to become trade undersecretary.

He believes in the emergence of a host of economic activities the revival of the old barter system would catalyze in Mindanao.

The DTI undersecretary, who also handles halal affairs, is confident of the barter system’s impact on employment and peace and order in Western Mindanao, especially the BaSulTa areas.

“With a revived barter system, the residents of the three provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will have an opportunity to reclaim what their forebears did successfully in the long past, that of trading with Sabah,” the M’ranaw government executive said.

Macatoman recalled that the people of the Sultanate of Sulu had sailed the seas far away, reaching China where they developed political and economic relations.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Lopez met on March 8 with Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Datuk Ignatius Darrell Leiking.

Their meeting came during the visit to the Philippines of Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on March 6 to 7.

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A boat of this kind plies the seas from Tawi-Tawi to Sabah for trading, etc. (SDN)

During the meeting of the two trade officials, Lopez “pushed for greater bilateral cooperation on the area of barter trade between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

His proposal jibes with the EO 64 reviving the barter system. He also linked the barter trade system to the promotion of the halal industry for the two countries.

“We should really make these areas of cooperation work as it will create and bring more economic activities to both Filipinos and Malaysians. The barter trade as well as the BIMP-EAGA will mean a lot to our people,” Lopez said.

BIMP-EAGA is Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asia Growth Area.

In the interview with Macatoman, he said the Philippines will attend the Malaysia International Halal Showcase in Kuala Lumpur on April 3 to 6.

1 1 1 a a Badjao

Curiousity is etched on the eyes of this Badjao kid which SDN captured their community along the seacoast of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. As the government primes up to revived the ancient barter trade system in Mindanao with Sabah, State officials — national and local — must and ought to take into account how can the sea-loving Badjaos can and should be included in the economic opportunities expected to perk up. Livelihood benefits should not only go to the affluent of business-established Tausug, Yakan, and Sama. The less fortunate, less privileged, and less economically able Badjaos must be in the high concerns of the government in reviving the barter system. It should be inclusive. (SDN)

“We are going to bring halal manufacturers to join the DTI delegation to MIHAS,” he said. “Our manufacturers of halal food products and even halal cosmetics will learn a lot in Malaysia,” he said.

Macatoman said on May 2 to 3 the DTI will hold the Second National Halal Conference in Clark Field in Pampanga with various stakeholders, manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers expected to attend. (SDN)

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Featured image of an empty banca (small boat) with the Bongao Peak (Bud Bongao) providing the background was taken from the Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (MSU-TCTO). (SDN)

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