Muslim Mindanao needs jobs


I received a short note from Samira Gutoc – Tomawis expressing concern on the labelling of Mindanao amidst the recent bomb blasts. Samira says these “pockets affected by security incidents don’t represent Mindanao. This truly affects trade and exchange disfavoring the island,” she added.

The concern has been raised because they are in the middle of a campaign to attract potential business partners, employers, and investors to come to Tawi Tawi (which is seas away from Cotabato or Cagayan de Oro). She fears all their efforts would go for naught as these potential investors may decide not to come for fear because of the security alert or advisories (if any). We give way to her thoughts below:

After President Benigno Aquino 3rd rallied business to support a future Bangsamoro state in the Mindanao Business Conference and also at his recent State of the Nation Address, academic institutions in the islands led by Mindanao State University (MSU) are asking for training to get the islands ready for a Bangsamoro.

MSU Tawi Tawi Chancellor Lorenzo Reyes, a former Harvard alumnus, said the youth must be prepared for the complex challenges of governance ahead.

“Young people are the building block of a post-conflict society, they are the workers, they are the base for development,” said former MSU Regent Samira Gutoc who advocated the institutionalization of affirmative action in employment, with quotas for minorities in the hiring policies of companies.

“Worse if unemployed, some young people will be gullible enough to be recruited to underground movements,” Gutoc warned.

In this light, MSU Tawi Tawi will hold a Job Fair on August 23 -24 at the Henry Kong Gymnasium in Bongao, MSU Tawi Tawi. Confirmed entities include Metrobank, ABS-CBN, Development Bank of the Philippines, Amanah Islamic Bank, Zamboanga Bankers Association of the Philippines, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) , National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Economic Bureau, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Phil. National Police. The Outstanding Young Person of the World awardee Senator Bam Aquino will keynote the opening.

“We appreciate that the President himself has urged companies to invest in Mindanao in his speech at the Mindanao Business Conference. It is about time that a head of state exercises political will in facilitating a settlement that has backtracked development for so long. And we need economic stewardship much more in ARMM now and the incoming Bangsamoro. We need trade—jobs, companies, banks setting up branches now in a place of some three million or so people,” said Gutoc, a former ARMM OIC legislator and Director of Amanah Islamic Bank.

“It is sad that this Holy Month of Ramadhan saw evacuations from both man-made and natural disasters . Some three villages in Maguindanao and North Cotabato are affected by skirmishes from BIFF forces. And despite this, thousands of graduates leave their schools without companies to go to in their home areas. It is in this light that we hope that companies in Manila can look into tapping the talented youths in this parts,” said NCMF Director for Economic Relations Aleem Guiapal, a native of Maguindanao, and AIM graduate who garnered an award for Human Resource (HR) Development for Asia Awards.

There has been an influx of displaced persons from Sabah to the province of Tawi- Tawi that has resulted to an increase in unemployment and dwindling economic resources. According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines, there are over 7,000 evacuees in the region as of April 2013. The CHR recently issued an Advisory (CHR-A2013-001) calling “for the Philippine Government to address the urgent needs of the displaced Filipinos from Sabah ensuring the sustainable provision of basic necessities to long term intervention geared towards reintegration to society.”

This 2013, MSU Tawi-Tawi had more than 200 graduates from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Fisheries, Environmental Studies, and Institute of Information and Communications Technology.

IBON research estimates that the number of unemployed Filipinos increased by 48,000 to reach 4.4 million and the number of underemployed by 349,000 to reach 7.5 million in 2012—for a total of 11.9 million unemployed and underemployed. It is worse for Tawi Tawi because it is the farthest island and with least access to employment.

God is Great!


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