Bangsamoro Minister Naguib Sinarimbo in Spain for UNICEF Conference on Child Friendly Cities

Façade of the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) Building of the BARMM Government. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

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

Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

MANILA (SDN) — Government officials, journalists, and other individuals officially invited on a travel have the privilege and opportunity of a lifetime not normally within reach of ordinary travelers.

Meaning, when a person is invited officially by a government or organization, that means free two-way plane fare, free hotel and lodging, and transportation in the host country. No other way about it, free travels are more likely for some government officials, journalists, as well as those in sports invited for a foreign competition.

When one is on a travel to another country, the opportunity to learn about other people, culture, religion, idiosyncrasies, etc., presents a life-changing and -enriching experience.

And even when you are on an official international travel, you get to become an accidental tourist — cultural immersion, sight-seeing, visits to historical and other important icons of the host country.

For is it not that popular American author, Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain to those familiar with his novels and short stories on Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (among my favorite readings in college) and other classic novels, had once declared the importance of travel.

Related: Bangsamoro Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo in US for UN Academy on Climate, Peace, Security

“Travel erases bigotry,” Mark Twain, a well-travelled human being himself, once said.

(If I’m not mistaken, the beloved American author had visited Mindanao during the American occupation and wrote about the United States soldiers’ massacre of many Tausug men, women, and children in 1906 in the heart of Bud Dajo, also called the Moro Crater Massacre.)

Lawyer Naguib G. Sinarimbo, head of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), is once such lucky government official.

He has been all over the world owing to his job, both as stalwart of the Mindanao peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The parties, the Filipino nation knows by now, produced the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) after 17 years of protracted negotiations.

The CAB effectively, at least generally speaking, stopped the bloodletting between government troopers and Moro rebels.

Rainy Madrid greets international delegates to UNICEF conference. (Credit: Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo)

Currently, the BARMM interior minister is in Madrid, Spain (Al Andalus to the Moors), on invitation of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), formerly known as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).

Before his travel to Spain, he was in the United States last June for the UN Academy on Climate, Peace, and Security conference. Yes, he was officially invited.

It is safe to say that UNICEF, a big global organization, foots the bill for all those the UN organization invited to participate in the “UNICEF East Asia-Europe Child Friendly Cities Interregional Exchange: A Policy Dialogue” on September 4-5.

Sinarimbo represents the Bangsamoro government.

“The Exchange is to provide a platform for knowledge and experience sharing on chield-friendly environments for Asia and Europe delegations. We will hear both from experts and practitioners during the sessions and actual visits to child-friendly cities here in Europe,” he says.

He noted that beyond the UNICEF conference, “Spain or Al Andalusia is important for us Bangsamoro as it was once ruled by the Moors, from where the Spaniards who came to our shores in 1521 named us collectively because of our similar religion with their once rulers, from the early 8th Century well into the 15th Century.”

More form the MILG chief: “This is why, despite serious efforts to erase traces of the Moorish rule in this country, it is still very much apparent and alive. That conquest, of course, bequeathed to Europe a great civilization that awaken this continent from its deep slumber during the Dark Ages into the Renaissance.

“The great cities of Andalucia produced some of the best minds in the Muslim world as well as triggered education and learning in Europe such as in the city of Toledo. From this country just across West Africa, learning gradually spread across Europe.”

The Bangsamoro region, established in 2018 by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the Special Geographic Area’s (SGA) 63 barangays or villages that voted “Yes” in a plebiscite in February 2019 to be under the BARMM jurisdiction.

According to the Philippine Atlas BARMM has 4,404,288 people. It has 116 municipalities: Basilan, 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; undivided Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur. (✓)

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