National, Bangsamoro Officials, Organizations Sign ‘Pledge of Commitment’ at BARMM 1st Multi-Stakeholders Forum for PFEZ Dev’t

Bangsamoro Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim. He welcomed and supports the collaboration between PEZA and the BARMM. (All photographs by SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 Instagram: @bluestar0910 Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News 

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ALNOR CONVENTION Hall (ACH), Cotabato City, December 7, 2022 (SDN) — National and Bangsamoro regional officials, stakeholders, and organizations today, Tuesday pledged to work collectively to develop further the region’s lone special economic zone in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte.

Maguindanao del Norte, along with Maguindanao del Sur, emerged after a law split the mother province (old Maguindanao) of the two new political entities (NPEs). The split added to the component provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) — from five to six.

They are Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Bangsamoro Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua and PEZA OIC-Deputy Director General Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal.

The Bangsamoro government under the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, through BEZA, conducted today the 1st Multi-Stakeholders Forum for the Development of Polloc Freeport and Ecozone (PFEZ).

BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, PEZA OIC_Deputy Deputy Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, and MTIT Deputy Minister and BEZA OIC-Executive Director Atty. Sukarno A. Abas.

“We pledge to fully support & continue to take action on the development of Polloc Freeport and Ecozone (PFEL). Our signatures hereunder will prove the veracity of the foregoing commitment for the continuous over-all economic growth and well-being of the Bangsamoro,” the Pledge of Commitment says.

To realize this, they signed a “Pledge of Commitment” board, one of the highlights of the well-attended forum conducted at the ACH, not far from the Bangsamoro Government Center (BGC), Headquarters of the BARMM. The City of Cotabato is the seat of the BARMM.

Signatories of the pledge were BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, with PEZA Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Deputy Director General Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, Minister Abu Amri Taddik, head of the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Trade (MTIT); MTIT Deputy Minister Atty. Sukarno A. Abas, OIC-executive director of the Bangsamoro Economic Zone Authority (MTIT-BEZA), stakeholders and some private individuals.

One of the private dignitaries who signed the Pledge of Commitment was Saudi Arabia-based engineer Ossama Al-Azzouni, chairman and founder of International Center for Social Research, Peace and Development (ICSRPD). He is with ICSRPD Secretary-General Marwa bint Hassan.

In so doing, they injected a shot-in-the-arm “cure” for what ails the PFEZ, which lags behind the country’s more than 400 special ecozones. And there is a lot to cover for the PFEZ to raise its presence and adoption among business organizations. To do this, the PFEZ has to surmount a list of challenges and issues that forum attendees identified anonymously.

BEZA’s mandate covers the promotion, support, and development of economic zones, freeports, and industrial estates in the region, which was established by the 2018 Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). The law implemented the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed by the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“BEZA,” as part of the Bangsamoro government’s 12-Point Priority Agenda as enunciated by the Chief Minister and MILF chairman, “envisions to continually establish sound and balanced industrial, economic, and social development initiatives that will stimulate the flow of business activity in the PFEZ and in all potential ecozones in the BARMM.”

If you were not at the forum, here’s some more photographs by SDN:


MTIT Minister Abu Amri Taddik (center) with Mark Matthew Parco, president, Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PHILSA), and Dolly Chiquito, country manager of Atlantic Line Shipping Philippines, Inc.
MTIT Deputy Minister and BEZA OIC-Executive Director Atty. Sukarno A. Abas.


Mark Matthew Parco.
Enrico L. Basilio, chief of party, USAID-RESPOND.
Simeon P. Binsuan, OIC-Port administrator, PFEZ.
Engineer Ossama Al-Azzouni.

BEZA hoped the forum  “will significantly help us make better decisions, enhance efficiency and increase stakeholders’ participation to produce better project outcomes. Participation by the stakeholders means sharing a common understanding and involvement in the decision-making process. The project will start with a consultation process, then negotiations and ends with joint decisions.”

The Bangsamoro region is covere the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as 63 barangays or villages in North Cotabato but under the Bangsamoro government’s jurisdiction and are collectively known as the Special Geographic Area (SGA).

Residents of the 63 villages voted to be under the Bangsamoro government in a plebiscite in January and February 2019, as part of efforts to widen the region’s territorial jurisdiction.

The PFEZ is strategically and geographically situated at the Southern Coast of Illana Bay, Parang, Maguindanao del Norte. (✓)

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