Eid’l Fitr observance: Looking beyond the pandemic

Today, May 13, is a regular holiday as declared by President Duterte in Proclamation No. 1142,  “in order to bring the religious and cultural significance of Eid’l Fitr to the fore of national consciousness.”

Eid’l Fitr, also known as the Festival of Breaking Fast, is celebrated by the Muslim world for three days after the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

In past years, the President customarily hosted a dinner celebration in Malacañang Palace to mark Eid’l Fitr but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this practice had to be shelved this year.

As the nation marks the Eid’l Fitr observance, there is need to foster greater awareness of the situation of Muslim Filipinos.

In February 2019, the existence of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was formalized when it was affirmed in a two-part plebiscite. The BARMM replaced the erstwhile Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. A transition body, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), has been organized prior to the election of the new region’s government officials in 2022.

Based on the Organic Law that ratified its creation, the autonomous Bangsamoro government system is parliamentary-democratic similar to the set-up in the United Kingdom.  On account of this unique structure, the BARMM is viewed as a proving ground for the espousal of federalism and other constitutional reforms in the country.

According to the BARMM, it posted the second  highest growth rate among the regions in Mindanao in terms of Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) and Gross Regional Domestic Expenditure (GRDE) in 2019.  Among the country’s 17 regions, the BARMM ranked seventh as it registered a 5.9 percent growth rate in GRDP.

Amid the pandemic, the regional administration’s optimism is fueled by the entry of new investors.  At the start of 2021, internet advocate Community Wireless and Power Corporation (CWPC) began operating in Wao, Lanao del Sur as its pilot project site.  This is the first-ever project approved by the Regional Board of Investment (RBOI) since the onset of the pandemic. Previously, a total of R4.1 billion in investments were received by the region, including a R1.8 billion Cavendish banana plantation project of the Lamitan Agri-Business Corporation.

As reported by the RBOI: “Other investors were the JMI Sand and Gravel Truck Services Corporation with investments worth R1.4 billion in Maguindanao; the Maguindanao Corn Development DSA-1 Corporation worth R515 million located in Datu Saudi Ampatuan of the same province. In the same year, the Wao Development Corporation also invested R306 million for a new pineapple packing plant in Wao municipality, Lanao del Sur.  The Hong Kong Feng Sheng Heritage Philippines Inc. based in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur invested R100 million for the establishment of an abaca fiber processing plant.”

The region expects that with Cotabato City now integrated with BARMM, fresh investments in banking and finance would be attracted starting this year as restrictive quarantine conditions are eased.

Such auspicious developments inject hope and optimism in this year’s Eid’l Fitr observance.