western mindanao

KISSAH AND DAWAT: Pagkita’ bulan: Moon-sighting in the Bangsamoro

May 7, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY  – May 6 was declared the commencement of fasting (Arabic ‘sawm’, plural ‘siyam’) in the month of Ramadhan of the Hijri or Islamic calendar. The declaration in this part of the Muslim World was done by the Regional Darul-Ifta’ in the BARMM and outside by respective Darul-Ifta’ bodies such as the Darul-Ifta’ of Zamboanga Peninsula and Palawan and the Mufti of Davao City after the mandatory physical sighting exercise. The declaration over the weekend was immediately circulated on social media and received by the faithful with such greetings as ‘Ahlan Ramadhan’ (Welcome Ramadhan), ‘Ramadhan Mubarak’ (Blessed Ramadhan) and ‘Ramadhan Saīd’ (Happy Ramadhan). For around 28 days, the days will be marked by fasting and the nights by tarawīh prayers. The fast commences before the early morning Fajr prayer until sunset with observants refraining from food, drinks and smoking; married couples from intercourse; shying away from gossips and idle talks; and devoting more time for obligatory and optional salat (prayers), du’a (supplication), dhikr (remembrance), qira’atul Qur’an (Qur’an reading), tilawatil Qur’an (Qur’an recitation), and the like. Moro children are enthusiastic as they are attracted to the variety of food on the table. Whilst they participate in fasting, they are not yet obligated yet. Instead, their participation is to familiarize and practice them so that they are able to do so properly when they reach the obligatory age. Children, pregnant women and infirmed are normally exempted from this obligation. Further, during the month of Ramadhan, Moro families are generally generous with food and monies. The food prepared for daily iftar (breaking of the fast) is shared with kith and kin. Where unable to prepare food, money is extended. Islam reminds the faithful to remember, to invite and be generous with orphans and those who have less in life. After all, among the many intents of fasting is for those who have more in life to experience the life of those who have less; consequently, Muslims come out of Ramadhan emphatic, humble, grateful, frugal and generous. But the fundamental teaching of fasting is taqwa or God-consciousness, to be attracted to His worship and to fear the consequences of religious inaction. It is this taqwa that is suppose to bind all Moros under the Islamic faith. Furthermore, since embracing Islam, the 13 Moro ethnolinguistic groups had observed fasting in the month of Ramadhan as integral practice of their Moro identity and culture. While observing the core teachings of Islam pertaining to fasting, every ethnic group have added their own ethnic variations, such as the preferred local foods. Among the Moros of the Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula, seafoods are a hit as iftar food together with ‘bang-bang’ or native delicacies of all kinds. For sahūr, the last meal before the early morning prayer, ‘sabaw maimû’ (hot and sweet coconut milk soup) is popular. Although, the Sunnah (practice) of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is to eat dates to break the fast. Dates is now easily accessible especially in urban areas where it is often distributed in mosques and by religious organizations or on sale in local barter trade stores. Ramadhan is not just fasting. It is supposed to reinforce Muslim unity and empathy. Thus, there is a need to reiterate its importance among the 13 ethnolinguistic groups and burgeoning religious diversity. There is also the imperative to revisit this cultural practice in order to be a source of unity, and in order to avoid divergent discourses and division. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan does not follow the Gregorian calendar, it follows the Islamic hijri calendar. Since the Bangsamoro does not have its hijri calendar, every Moro group either adopts its own or import one from overseas as their reference. The hijri calendar like the traditional Chinese Yinlee calendar is lunar-based, that is following the different phases of the moon. Thus, hilāl or moon-sighting is necessary to move from one month to another, year-round, not just before the start or end of the month of Ramadhan. However, because of logistical and organizational constraints to carry out these tasks and with loss of their patron, the practices are now limited to the observance of fasting only. The Gregorian calendar that is dominant in the Philippines is solar-based, that is based on the seasons and the relative position of the sun. This is why, there is a (mis)conception that the month of Ramadhan is moving across the Gregorian calendar. One value of the lunar-counting is that the observance of the fast is not fixed on a particular season. Ramadhan is from the Arabic root word ‘ra-ma-dha’ meaning scorching heat or dryness. Imagine observing fast on a fixed hot season? Because the Hijri counting is lunar-based, the fasting month of Ramadhan can move across the seasons. In the time of the old monarchy, the Sultan was the ecclesiastical authority and certain procedures and practices were observed uniformly across the realm. When the Sultan’s power was taken over by the Americans, ecclesiastical practices lost their patron and saw their decline. Thus, the need to re-institutionalize two traditional practices associated with fasting and the month of Ramadhan – the practice of taqwīm or Islamic hijri calendar and hilāl or moon-sighting. The establishment of the BARMM can re-institutionalize these cultural practices by adopting uniform standards and hiring professionals to carry them out properly. This is the call of the ulama headed by the Aleem Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, former executive director of the ARMM Regional Darul-Ifta’ (RDI) and current BTA member. Re-institutionalization means adoption of a legal framework for the uniform observance of hilāl, the development of its own BARMM hijri or lunar taqwīm or calendar, training professionals with the necessary ulūmiyyah (technical) and diniyyah (religious) qualifications, and the establishment of a taqwīm and hilāl bureau under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to sustain these practices. It should similarly be clarified that while the proposed bureau undertakes these practices, the official pronouncement should be coordinated with and come either from the offices of the BARMM Darul-Ifta’, the region’s jurisconsult authority or the Wali, the BARMM’s titular head. Worth mentioning and adopting by this proposed bureau are some of the practices demonstrated by ARMM RDI – such as the annual hilāl conference, mobilizing provincial teams to undertake hilāl, upgrading and additional procurement of moon-sighting equipment and software, developing technical qualifications of young ulama in partnership with the national DOST PAGASA office, and importantly, consultation and consensus building among varied darul-ifta’ bodies, organizational muftun and influential ulama. While this proposition is not in the priority legislation for BTA, its early adoption can signal the re-emergence and recognition of positive traditional practices that make Bangsamoro what it is, thereby promoting cultural identity, unity and heritage among the Moro inhabitants. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Noor Saada is a Tausug of mixed ancestry – born in Jolo, Sulu, grew up in Tawi-tawi, studied in Zamboanga and worked in Davao, Makati and Cotabato. He is a development worker and peace advocate, former Assistant Regional Secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, currently working as an independent consultant and is a member of an insider-mediation group that aims to promote intra-Moro dialogue).

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KISSAH AND DAWAT: Mustering modern management practices for Bangsamoro transition

May 5, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY  – We have the desire to see the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) succeed and even if we are not appointed member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) or in the interim cabinet, we do have business to be involved as citizens. As citizens, our involvement can be as varied as our interest and competence. Those who can organize themselves can form alliance to advance a cause; those who can organize rallies can march for advocacy; those who can speak eloquently can speak before any of the local board meetings or consultation; those who are members of civil society can serve as service provider or third-party data validator or program monitor; they can call on any local office to improve their services and those who can write can make their views count. Towards Organizational Development The last one is the motivation behind this column. As graduate of public administration, organizational development (OD) is always of interest to us, whether it is organizational structuring or reorganization. The (1) transition from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to BARMM is just one of three natures of transition BARMM will have to go through. The other two natures are (2) transition from Region 12 to BARMM, as Cotabato City and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato are under the administrative jurisdiction of Region 12; and (3) transition from Central Office to BARMM, as there are program funds, capital outlay and personnel plantilla creation are anchored with the Central Office of line agencies. We share in the hope that the transition will be smooth and fast and at the end of the day, will benefit Bangsamoro as a whole. Having understood these three natures, the next step is an objective review of what works and did not work in the ARMM. This can be the starting point and leapfrog the transition based on the OD provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). One relevant document is the research on “Drawing Lessons for the Creation of Regional Governments under a Federal Setup: Case Study on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” undertaken by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) published in January 2018[1]. The only supra-national public expenditure and institutional review in this country was conducted by the World Bank for the ARMM Department of Education (DepEd) in 2015[2]. In this way, the syndrome that contributed to the weakness of the regional education system can be addressed properly. The BARMM can derive recommendations for consideration in what is now the emergent Bangsamoro political entity. It is also worthwhile to review both the organizational structure of the regular administrative region and the central office of the line agency, for the BARMM is higher than the regular administrative region because of its high degree of autonomy and while lower than the central office of any line agency, it enjoys some devolved functions. However, given that the BARMM is transitioning to a parliamentary-ministerial system, such of which is non-existent in our country, it behooves us to consider overseas political entities enjoying the same. While we have always argued for cultural sensitivity and local context, we also recognize that across similar entities and in general, bureaucracy at any level have similarities or commonalities.. This is where the values of researches, such as those from great universities, can provide us good practice and lessons to learn. Peter Drucker’s Effective Management Among the most popular management gurus is Peter Drucker, who is hailed as “father of modern management”. For him, leadership is not simply about charisma and extroversion. BARMM appointees can learn from eight (8) management practices Drucker considered characteristics of effective executive: 1. What needs to be done is to distinguish between organizational or management ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, a need is necessary and a want is desired. Leaders have to be careful with inherent bias for preferred perspective. 2. What is right for the organization is to differentiate between ‘subjective right’ driven by personal sensibility and ‘objective right’ supported by consensus and studies. This is why the need for data-driven analysis is all the more important process in the transition. 3. Develops action plans, that is, actionable vs aspirational plan given the three-year time frame of the transition. 4. Takes responsibility for decisions by avoiding the blame game and going around the bush. 5. Takes responsibility for communicating. Frank conversation with stakeholders is imperative to keep everyone abreast with the actual and difficult process of both transitioning and organizational restructuring. While at the same time, keeping away from the push of propaganda, vetting every information coming out of the BARMM so as not to be entangled in the fake news dilemma. 6. Focuses on opportunities rather than problems. Problem-solving approach is based on a competitive mindset with improvement on weaknesses and focus on limitation; while positive approach is based on a collaborative mindset with improvement based on strength, vision and focus on possibilities. Again, given the three-year transition period, the interim BARMM government will have to make a strategic decision.  7. Courtesies and meetings eat up a lot of managers and leaders time. BARMM will have to make a conscious decision on why the need for, how to run and determine for itself what is productive meeting. This is selective versus routine meetings, talking around the bush versus forward-moving meetings. 8. And finally, the leadership and supporters should start thinking and saying "we" rather than "I", “us” rather than “we”. After the plebiscite, we are in this together. This is us, one Bangsamoro; no more distinction between member or non-member, yes or no voters. BARMM advocates and supporters should stop parlaying that this is just for those who are officers and members of a particular organization or ethnicity. While we recognize the contribution and sacrifice of those who belong to a particular organization, BARMM is not exclusive to one group, it belongs to all Bangsamoro. James “Jim” Collins’ Catalytic Mechanisms Given the limited time frame for the transition, the big challenge for the BARMM, collectively, is how to turn its big and audacious goals into desired and felt results among its constituencies. This is not unique to BARMM, this common dilemma among public and private entities alike. Jim Collins, American author and lecturer on business management and sustainability, studied one extremely powerful tool and found it to be the critical link between organizational objectives and performance. He called it ‘catalytic mechanisms’. He identified five parts: 1. The strategies adopted, to be considered catalytic mechanisms, should produce desired results in unpredictable ways. Bureaucracy is not really known for breeding extraordinary results. It is more an epitome of control, predictability and conformity. In this environment, extraordinary results will never bloom. What research has shown is that when personnel and groups are given elbow room for initiative and creativity, to step outside a constricted path, some delightful, interesting and amazing results happen. 2. The strategies should distribute power for overall system benefits, and this often results to great discomfort for those in the status quo. Should it remain centralized? Or should it decentralized to bring power and decision-making to the level where they are needed? Catalytic mechanisms force the right things to happen even though those in power have vested interest in the right things not happening or in inertia – letting pointless and inefficient practices to stay in place because they benefit the status quo. 3. Strategies should have teeth to take the power out of traditional holders and their whims and redistribute them to where change really matters for the people these agencies are serving. It is not fair to blame the frontline staff while the managers are scratch-free. If the frontline staff are to be blamed, the managers should have more of it for they were the ones steering.  How many orders and memos were issued at the start of every administration threatening legal sanctions and ended up eating up its own words? Simply put, do not bark if you can’t bite; many have been through with the barking, yet exasperated over the absence of bites. 4. Catalytic mechanisms are strategies that can ejects viruses, e.g. those who do not share in the organizational values and ethics. Management control has been the default of many previous administrations while producing no sustainable and positive results. What is needed is not just personnel to work hard, but the right ones are hired, put in strategic positions throughout the bureaucracy exhibiting the desired behaviors, sharing the organizational values and contributing to organizational results; and those without these values are either never hired or self-eject themselves from the organization, as explained by Jim Collins. 5. Produces on-going effects. According to Collins, it is not enough leaders deliver rousing speech, electrifying them in a meeting or creating euphoria out of new buzzwords. These events will not create sustainable effects, the momentum stalls and the excitement of change will pass. Thus, there is a need for buy-in within the organization, developing second liners, and evolving a critical mass to push through the change and reform beyond the transition period. Having described what strategies can become catalytic mechanisms, Collins has some practical forward steps: (1) don’t just add, remove; (2) create, don’t copy; (3) use funds, but not just funds; (4) allow your strategies to evolve; (5) build an integrated set. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Quotient It goes without saying, leadership is crucial. Psychologist, author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, found out what makes effective leaders alike, they all have high degree of ‘emotional intelligence’ (EQ). Intelligence quotient and technical skills matter as threshold capacities or entry-level requirements for executive positions, but EQ is the essential condition for effective leaders. The BARMM’s leadership expression on moral governance is a question of developing emotional intelligence. The urgency in public service requires empathy which technical people, who are committed to following pre-determined set of rules and regulations, may not have. Accordingly, the connection between public service and the general public can only be bonded by leaders with empathy in that part of the brain called the limbic system where feelings, impulses and drives are governed. Leaders with low EQ but high on analytical and technical abilities are governed through the neocortex. To develop the managers and staff’s EQ requires in-service training focusing on the limbic system through motivation, extended practice and feedback, according to Goleman. Building one emotional intelligence requires sincerity and effort, thus, requires ample time to internalize. Towards developing emotional intelligence as a foundation of moral governance requires developing self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. As pointed out by Goleman, we are born with it, and we can strengthen these skills through persistence, practice and honest feedback. Finally, Peter Drucker’s Effective Management, James “Jim” Collins’ Catalytic Mechanisms and Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Quotient are just few insights on modern management that the BARMM can muster and benefit from. Certainly, not to adopt them whole, but sensitize them to the BARMM context.  By enumerating these management tools, it is not to say the leaders are unaware, instead it is the firm belief of this columnist that the Bangsamoro enterprise with its collective aspirations can only be achieved through consultation and consensus-building where everyone in the marketplace of ideas, regardless of status, every Moro is free and safe to express his or her opinion and in putting forward ways to achieve the elusive Bangsamoro dream of peace, justice and progress. BARMM can benefit so much from beautiful and best ideas.

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KISSA AND DAWAT: ‘Chopped heads’ and citizenship

April 8, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/8 April) – This year is our 4-year old son's first awareness about election. Initially, he saw volunteers posting campaign posters, he got curious and asked his mom, "Mama, who are these utud uw (Sinug word, literally, chopped heads) posted outside? My wife told me, he left after a brief explanation, although she is not sure whether he understood her explanation or not. The following day, when he saw another batch of volunteers posting anew, he ran towards the house and shouted, "Mama, they are posting chopped heads outside again!" My wife explained to her again. Finally, when he saw some posters fell to the ground, he quipped, "These chopped heads are creating a mess, granny is tired keeping the front yard tidy". The value of this personal anecdote is for us parents to understand our role in educating our children. We are supposedly our children’s first teachers. Even when they are in school, we are remiss in our obligation if we leave our children’s education to their teachers alone. The latter teach our children in general terms, it is for us parents to contextualize their school learning according to our family’s cultural, linguistic and religious affiliation. Having said that, my son’s anecdote got me thinking, when is the best time and what is the best way to teach our children about election, their right of suffrage and the larger democratic principle. This is akin to the timing of educating our children about sex. I guess, based from my personal and professional experience, the best time is when our children start to wonder and show interest. The worse thing we can do is to shun them and dismiss their query as petty, and like the subject of sex education, consider it taboo to be even talking about it. In my professional experience as a nurse and as a feminine hygiene trainer, when we do not provide safe space for our children at home in responding to their inquisitive minds, we are shooing them away and they will end up asking the same from other people. Worse, they may end up getting responses without account of responsibility, that is, devoid of ethical and moral consideration. My wife and I agreed we will respond to when he inquires about it. In short, on question basis. We pray we can muster the words he will understand, in the context he is familiar with. “Son, we do not call them ‘chopped heads’, they are close-up photos, so that we will remember their face. They are asking us to consider them come election day. Before we vote for them, we need to know if they are good people, do they care for others like mama and papa care for you? Will they behave if they get elected like you behave in school? Will they work hard like you studying hard? Will they follow rules like you holding mama’s or papa’s hands when we walk on the street? Will they share like you sharing your toys with your friends? There will be more elections they will witness before they are finally about to vote themselves. Our explanation will become more abstract and complex as they grow up. Thus, our roles in educating our children is a pillar of responsible citizenship. Exercising the right of suffrage is an element of citizenship as there are more to responsible citizenship than just the right to vote. When we fail to educate them at home, it is hard to expect them to behave differently because we parents are their role models that they brag about with their classmates and friends. Therefore, how we behave ourselves is as influential as what we try to instill in their minds and hearts. According to the US Dept of Education, in a brochure on citizenship, “research indicates that children take values seriously only when they see adults they respect act in accordance with those values.”[1] What we are seeing now as pragmatism in our midst - the oxymoron situation of complaining over wrongdoings in many of our elected public servants and voting for the same candidates in return for monies, gifts and promises – I reckon can be traced to the meaningful citizenship education or the lack of it among our children at home and in school. At home, how can parents teach their children about citizenship when they themselves are ignorant about it? Is ignorance a safe leeway for us parents? At school it is a subject matter to be graded, and when we fail to transform children into citizens as they attain legal age, the status quo remains. If we are able to help them transform, then we benefit what democracy can afford us —like liberty, human rights, and equality.   It is hard to imagine proactive citizens without considering the crucial role of parents or guardians at home as we already recognized the importance of parents and families in character formation. “All parents want their children to grow up to be good people and responsible citizens. Just as children must be taught to tie their shoes, read and write, and solve math problems, so too must they be guided to develop qualities of character that are valued by their families and the communities in which they live” (US Dept of Education).[2] In the United States, the Department of Education came up with a booklet “Helping your Child to become Responsible Citizen”[3]. The motivation behind this booklet is to engage and help parents build their children’s character – from compassion to citizenship, with calibrated activities for elementary, middle and high school levels. In this manner, citizen-building is school. community and family responsibility. This echoes an African adage, it takes a village to educate a child. A similar document can be adopted in our context. The quarterly parent-teacher conference, PTA meeting and sessions with 4Ps parents are some of good media to educate parents on their role and how to educate their children about citizenship. Newly-weds should no only be counselled on marriage but also their responsibility in educating their children about citizenship. In the words of Berkowitz, “governance depended on the character or virtues of its citizens”. Imagine what kind of governance and public leaders we will have without the virtues of citizenship among the people? Conversely, imagine what kind of governance and public leaders we will have with the virtues of citizenship present and strong among the people?

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Bangsamoro education ministry welcomes support of development partners

March 13, 2019

COTABATO CITY – The newly-installed Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) welcomed the support of development partners to improving the delivery of education in the region. Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal convened a meeting with development partners here on March 7, 2019 – two weeks following his appointment as member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and as MBHTE minister. “Our development partners are vital to achieving our education reform agenda,” Iqbal said, stressing that education is the number one priority of the new Bangsamoro Government. Citing the provisions of Bangsamoro Organic Law, Iqbal said the Bangsamoro Government will establish, maintain, and support a complete and integrated system of quality education, which shall be a subsystem of the national education system. “The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) shall develop an educational framework relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people,” he said. Iqbal added implementing BARMM’s education reforms could be overwhelming. But he said the support of development partners is reassuring. Among the development partners present during the meeting were the Australian Government-funded Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao or Pathways Program; Save the Children Philippines; USAID’s Mindanao Youth for Development Program; Plan International Philippines; UNICEF Philippines; and Catholic Relief Services. Also present during the meeting were representatives from Nonviolent Peaceforce; UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Synergeia Foundation; Forum ZFD; Community and Family Services International; Islamic Relief Philippines; International Children’s Action Network; ACTED; Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP); IDEALS, Inc.; Maranao People Development Center, Inc.; and A Single Drop for Safe Water. Pathways Program Curriculum, Learning, and Delivery Adviser Bonna Duron – Luder shared during the meeting that the Australian Government through the Pathways Program is ready to support the ministry in institutional strengthening, curriculum review and development, policy advocacy, and data management. PBSP on the other hand will mobilize the private sector to support the ministry while UNICEF Philippines will provide technical assistance in education sector planning. “We look forward to working closely with our development partners soon,” said Iqbal. #

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PIDS’ expert tackles fiscal federalism in Zambo forum

September 11, 2017

AS debates on federalism in the country heat up, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) makes it one of the main topics of its Development Research Policy Month (DPRM) celebration this year. Pursuant to Proclamation No. 247 issued in 2002, PIDS has been designated as lead agency in the annual celebration of the DPRM every September to promote the significance of evidence-based research in program planning and policymaking. This year’s DPRM theme is “Strengthening Decentralization for Regional Development” or “Pagpapatibay ng Desentralisasyon Tungo sa Kaunlarang Panrehiyon” to emphasize the need for in-depth reflections and evidence-based analyses not just on federalism but also on decentralization reforms in general. During the 3rd Mindanao Policy Research Forum, which is one of the activities lined up for the DPRM, held at the Ateneo Zamboanga de Zamboanga Auditorium on September 7 (Thursday), PIDS’ public finance expert Rosario Manasan presented the findings of her study on the possible fiscal impacts of shifting to a federal form of government. Manasan talked about the importance of properly allocating financial resources to each level of government under a federal system. According to her, the allocation of fiscal resources may enable or constrain governments in the exercise of their constitutionally assigned legislative and executive responsibilities. She also noted that taxing powers and expenditures are important instruments for regulating the economy. The PIDS senior research fellow underscored that each level of government must have enough revenues to finance basic services for the public. In a federal system, taxing and spending powers are decentralized to local governments or federal states, which give them a free hand to decide how and where to use their budgets. With this setup, Manasan said, they will be able to spend their funds on projects and policies that are responsive to the needs of their localities without seeking approval from the national or federal government. Citing some practices in the distribution of taxing powers in federal states, Manasan pointed out that customs and excise taxes are assigned most of the time to the federal or national government. The same goes with corporate taxes. However, in some federations, these may be under the concurrent jurisdiction of federal and state governments. For personal income tax, Manasan said this may be more directly attributed to the location of residence. But in the case of Austria and India, personal income tax has been exclusively under the federal or national government. Sales or consumption taxes are shared by both federal and state governments, she added. Furthermore, Manasan raised the possibility that some local government units may not be ready for the shift to federalism especially in terms of development and financial stability. To address the risks of greater disparities under a more decentralized form of government, Manasan said policymakers must design a feasible intergovernmental transfer, which could be in the form of tax shares, unconditional block grants, or specific purpose conditional grants to assist poorer states or regions. It can also be through equalization arrangements, which are administered by the federal or national government to help poorer states just like the current practice in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. Aside from Manasan, speakers including Dr. Romulo Emmanuel M. Miral Jr., director-general of the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, and Mr. Jonathan Malaya, executive director of the PDP Laban Federalism Institute were also at the forum. The activity, which was co-organized by the Mindanao Development Authority and the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, was attended by members of the academe, civil society organizations, national government agencies, and local governments in Mindanao. Meanwhile, a press conference was also conducted during the event to promote awareness about the DPRM celebration and explain its overarching theme to the press. This is part of the series of regional media road shows organized by PIDS in partnership with the central and regional offices of the Philippine Information Agency.

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