The Turkish aid agency, Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) has opened several key facilities in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the Philippines. They include two orphanages, a school, a mosque, a refectory and a well.
The primary school was built in the Talayan municipality and the other facilities were built inside the IHH Orphanage Complex in Cotabato.
The opening ceremony for the facilities was attended by IHH Vice President Sait Demir, IHH regional representative in Moro, Ömer Kesmen, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, and the head of the Bangsamoro Development Agency, Mohammad S. Yacob.
Speaking at the ceremony, Demir said that the foundation continues to be a source of hope for the oppressed due to its humanitarian works around the world.
‘I feel at home in Turkey'Also speaking at the ceremony, Murad Ebrahim said they were going to boost the friendship with Turkey.
He said he has been visiting Turkey each year to share information with related authorities on the future of the Moro region. He added that their long struggle had been for the peace of Moro people.
Ebrahim also said a plebiscite is going to be held on Jan. 21, 2019, on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and as a result of it, a transition government is going to be set up.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law, the fulfillment of the 2014 peace deal between the national government and the MILF, was signed in June by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The measure for greater autonomy creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, a region with more political and fiscal powers, including a bigger annual block grant equivalent to 5 percent of the total national internal revenue collection.
Ebrahim went onto say that Turkey was one of the powerful countries to give them the biggest support. "IHH is giving service to Moro in many fields, such as opening the orphanage and social aid. IHH also makes a serious contribution to the [peace] process with its observer role in negotiations [with the Philippines government]."
"When I come to Turkey, I feel at home and very happy," he added.
‘Optimistic and hopeful'Also thanking Turkey for its support to Bangsamoro people during the transition to comprehensive autonomy, Ebrahim said the people have reached the last phase of a 50-year resistance.
He said the referendum was going to decide the regions that will come under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, adding the law would provide the necessary freedom to practice religion.
"We are optimistic and hopeful that most of the people in the region will support the referendum," he said, adding that they witnessed strong support during the campaign process. Saying that those opposing the referendum are fewer in numbers and they did it for political interest, Ebrahim said it was not possible for them to negatively affect the voting.
Kesmen, for his part, said: "We are trying to contribute to the just cause of the Moro people by carrying out the orphanage, school and humanitarian aid as much as we can."
Two orphanages inside the IHH's complex have the capacity for 96 children, while the mosque allows 150 people to pray at the same time. The refectory will also serve 120 orphans and workers.
The primary school, which is expected to improve people-to-people relations between Turkey and Moro - opened in Talayan - has a capacity for 150 students.