Federalism, Bangsamoro, Security and Martial Law will be the main order of business when Kusog Mindanaw convenes for its annual conference in Davao City next week.


Presented by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Philippines and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the conference on July 10 to 12 at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City is expected to draw around 100 participants from government, business, academe, civil society, security and religious sectors who will share insights on the agenda.


A platform of dialogue among Mindanao leaders and thinkers since 1994, Kusog Mindanaw has advocated issues to benefit the region, including an equitable share in the national budget and representation in the national government, good governance, inclusive growth, peace and development.


IAG is the secretariat of Kusog Mindanaw. 

This year’s conference will feature four sessions meant to reinvigorate discussions on federalism and charter change, two vital issues around Mindanao’s future that also intersect with issues on Bangsamoro and security.


Leading the roster of speakers is eminent law teacher and legal scholar Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders of the Melbourne Law School who also joins the panel of experts at the IAG learning session for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).


Prof. Saunders will speak at the session on federalism and charter change proposals with two other international experts – Prof. Dr. Stefan Jost, Philippines representative of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Amanda Cats-Baril, constitution adviser for Asia Pacific of International IDEA.


Keynote messages will be delivered by Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on “Federalism as a Mindanao Agenda” and Undersecretary Cesar Yano of the Department of National Defense on “ Mindanao, Security and Martial Law”.


BTA Parliament Deputy Speaker Hatimil Hassan and BTA members Jose Lorena and Omar Sema are also confirmed to give updates on the Bangsamoro.


With barely a week before the conference, IAG caught up with Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr., chairman of Kusog Mindanaw, to get his thoughts on the agenda. The following, he said, are the questions every Mindanawon should ponder this 2019.


On federalism

  1. Is it still possible to revise the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for federalism?
  2. Can we continue to set our sight on federalism yet in the coming years focus on legislative reforms: more devolution of powers to LGUs and regions; political party reforms (both the main political parties and party list); and electoral reforms that include funding?

On the Bangsamoro

  1. Is the BARMM in transition "parliamentary" form of governance or does it work just like the ARMM executive?
  2. Does the so-called block grant begin during the transition (2020-2022) or it would begin when the regular Bangsamoro parliament is elected and duly qualified in May 2022?
  3. Does funding the transition phase require yearly congressional allocation in the GAA?

On security

  1. How do people understand security?
  2. With the Human Security Act under review in Congress, there is a need to fine tune the understanding of Security. Is it human security, security from terrorism, security from all forms of lawlessness?
  3. What about the issue the relations between security and the basic rights of the citizens?

On martial law

  1. Mindanao is under martial law since May 2017 and it will last until end of 2019. What has martial law achieved?
  2. Is there a real need for martial law?
  3. Is martial law the best tool against terrorism?