ARMM receives Japanese students learning PHL’s peace initiatives PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 September 2011 13:58

A delegation of Japanese students interested at the on-going peace initiatives of the government with the Moro groups recently visited the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Cotabato City.

ARMM Information Chief Ali Macabalang reveals that officials of the region have received here another delegation of foreign students interested in studying peace initiatives, this time a delegation of Japanese students whose government has been deeply involved in helping convergent initiatives address the decades-old Moro insurgency in Southern Philippines including ARMM.

During a reception meeting at the ARMM’s executive conference hall here Sunday afternoon, officials led by Regional Executive Secretary G. Naguib Sinarimbo briefed nine students from Japan’s Waseda University led by Prof. Hidetochi Taga on the history of Moro rebellion that evolved into the government grant of autonomy bestowed now in the 20-year old autonomous region.

Sinarimbo told visitors in a briefing that the ARMM governance has absorbed the remnants of the systems of the two defunct autonomous region created under the Marcos government, which inked in Tripoli the 1976 agreement with the then mainstream Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

But he said it was in the advent of the ARMM starting in 1990 that foreign institutions including Japan had joined the provision of various interventions in uplifting the lot of Bangsamoro people in capability-building, socio-economic programs and infrastructure development.

Regional health secretary Jojo Sinolinding, social welfare acting secretary Pombaen K. Kader, education undersecretary Mayana Sinsuat, and ARMM Social Fund Program manager Nasser Sinarimbo also took turns in briefing the visiting academic  delegation on their respective services and projects that enjoy various forms of Japanese government’s assistance.

Prof. Taga, a lawyer and dean of the Waseda University’s graduate school, and his students manifested elation over the information of the ARMM officials that the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is one of the two biggest foreign institutions assisting ARMM, the other being the World Bank.

The Japanese team visited first the CARAGA region where they were hosted by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Carmencita Conchingco, a long-time friend of Prof. Taga dating back in the conduct of the Philippine-Japan students exchange program in 1988.

The nine Japanese students, all junior and senior enrollees in one of the social science subjects handled by Prof. Taga at the Waseda University, wanted to be knowledgeable of foreign histories, especially of countries that passed through various stages of conflict like ARMM, one of the team guides said.

Director Conchingco said the Waseda University is likely expanding the coverage of an academic subject on Japan history to include foreign students, who would want to know the evolution of Japan from the havocs of the World War II.

At an open forum after the briefing, one of the visiting students asked about the “confusing” separate peace processes of the Philippine government with the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Sinarimbo, a member of the Philippine government panel in tripartite meetings with the MNLF and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which brokered both the 1976 and 1996 peace pacts with the former secessionist group, said the Aquino administration is likely to adopt a “convergent” approach dealing with concerns espoused by the MNLF and the MILF.

The Japanese academic delegation came a week after Japan Ambassador to the Philippines visited this city and turned over the JICA-funded P28.8-million freshly completed “friendship hall” building to the ARMM administration.

It was the second foreign group to visit the ARMM governance this year. The first was that of multi-national delegation of students from the John Hopkins University in the United States which came also with a desire to learn the situation of Moro rebellion and the status of national and foreign institutions’ interventions.