by Masiding Noor Yahya
MARAWI CITY: A Turkey-based international lawyers group that is providing assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) urges more aid for reconstruction of the Muslim region in the Philippines.
As the region received autonomous status following decades of armed struggle with a plebiscite in 2019, residents need financial and moral support in all areas of life, said Husnu Tuna, international project coordinator at the International Jurist Union based in Turkey.
Tuna, a founding member of the group, told foreign media on Sunday the region needs infrastructural development and facilities to provide support for the normalization of residents’ psychology.
“Institutional structures need to be established and supported to ensure that these structures meet the needs of society,” said Tuna.
“The most effective work to be done in the region will be to introduce vocational trainings where people can earn their own food — the most productive and various production methods in the agricultural studies in the region,” he added.
Tuna said humanitarian aid should also be provided.
Tuna was a member of a 17-person lawyers’ delegation that traveled to the region in 2013 and visited six Muslim populated districts on Mindanao Island.
“During that visit, we found out that the region has deep-rooted ties with Turkey that went back to the late 18th century era of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid,” he said, and the group has since worked to support the development of the region in several sectors.
”We have organized experience sharing program with lawyers from Bangsamoro at the Justice Academy in Turkey.”
It also hosted 20 women from Bangsamoro in the central Turkish province of Konya for a similar meeting on experience sharing regarding “local governments.”
“As the International Jurists Union, we try to support the people and the government of the region both in the field of law and other fields, he pointed out.”
The group provided support to establish two radio stations in Cotabato and Marawi for Muslims who did not have print, visual, or audio communication mediums.
“These radios played a vital role to get support during the 2019 Bangsamoro autonomy plebiscite process,” he said.
The lawyers’ group supports education and has brought 29 girls and 11 boys to Turkey to receive higher education. It plans to continue the program.
“They are studying in Istanbul Health Sciences University, Sabahaddin Zaim University, Ibni Haldun University and Konya Selcuk University,” said Tuna, adding that all expenses, along with food and accommodation, are provided by the group.
He said the region needs vocational education centers, agricultural activities along with modern technologies that support quality productions in the agricultural sector and urged financial support to his group and the region.
Tuna voiced concern about “missionary activities in the region” that are directly conducted by churches.
“Institutions such as hospitals are managed by churches, and international freemasons such as Lions and Rotaries are working effectively in the region, and local institutions have been created to continue the influence of the Spanish occupation of the islands in the 1500s,” the lawyer gathered from observations of the region.
Mentioning poor healthcare systems in the region, he underlined the need for “the constructions of health center and mobile health cabins in the regions planned by the Bangsamoro Health Ministry.”
Decades-long arms struggle “has a lot of orphans,” and the region needs support to build orphanages and to maintain existing ones.
The group has opened an orphanage “even though it is not in our field of activity,” he said.
The construction of Selamet Hasim University and Abdulhamit Han campus will soon begin with the support of several NGOs.
“In this respect, it is necessary to support the region in the field of education and training.”
Last March, the jurists union delegation visited Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in efforts of further collaboration with lawyers, jurists, and scholars working on legal sciences.
The Union collaborated with lawyers in Bangsamoro in the subject of legal science. Following this program, a certificate ceremony has been organized.
The Union said collaborations with Bangsamoro in the subject of law will continue. (MNY/RSP)