Indonesian Islamic philantropic institution ‘Dompet Dhuafa’ wins 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award



INDONESIAN Indonesian philanthropic organization Dompet Dhuafa has been named one of six recipients of this year’s prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, which honors leadership in solving society’s most intractable problems.

Dompet Dhuafa has redefined the landscape for zakat — the tax on an adult’s wealth that is a cornerstone of Islamic teachings. The organization has become one of the largest philanthropic organizations in Indonesia today in terms of donations received, totaling some US$20 million and reaching 13 million beneficiaries as of 2015, with at least 20 percent of them moving out of poverty, the Associated Press reported from Manila on Wednesday.

One of the organization’s founders, Eri Sudewo, said the award was a victory not only for Dompet Dhuafa but also for other charity organizations throughout Indonesia.

“The real victory is in how we develop a team to sustain the organization,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.


Eri Sudewo

“We have enormous potential for charity in Indonesia. Dompet Dhuafa simply cannot do it alone.”

Eri said there were about 100 million people in Indonesia who had a disposable income.

“If a person donates just Rp 50,000 [US$3.80] per month, we will have trillions of rupiah per year,” he said.

“We welcome other charities to help manage the fund to alleviate poverty in Indonesia. Each charity would have its own specialty so they could complement each other.”

The award is regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize and is named after the seventh president of the Philippines, who served from 1953 to 1957. The awards will be conferred on Aug. 31 in Manila.

Other recipients of the award include Bezwada Wilson, an Indian who led a grassroots movement on behalf of the low-caste Dalit community. Wilson established a people’s movement called Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) that helps liberate the community from the imposed duty to manually remove human excrement from dry latrines.

Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Philippines’ ombudsman, or public prosecutor, is also being honored “for her moral courage and commitment to justice” in tackling corruption, one of the most intractable problems confronting the Philippines.

Indian artist Thodur Madabusi Krishna has been chosen to receive the emerging leadership award for “his forceful commitment as an artist and advocate of art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions”.

The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers group, founded 51 years ago, sends young adults abroad to volunteer in other communities. The group will be recognized at this year’s ceremony.

Finally, Vientiane Rescue, a Laotian organization, is being awarded for its “heroic work in saving Laotian lives in a time and place of great need, under the most deprived circumstances”.

The Jakarta Post,
Thu, July 28 2016
Parni Hadi
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Philippine embassy plans 2nd printing of Syariah Guidebook

Philippine Ambassador Nestor Ochoa (L), French Ambassador Loan Forgeron (C) and French author Cecile Castilla during the launch of the book titled 'Filipinos in Brunei' yesterday.  Photo: BT/Hafiizah Maideen

Philippine Ambassador Nestor Ochoa (L), French Ambassador Loan Forgeron (C) and French author Cecile Castilla during the launch of the book titled ‘Filipinos in Brunei’ yesterday. Photo: BT/Hafiizah Maideen

Hafiizah Maideen

The Philippine Embassy in Brunei is planning a second printing of its guidebook on Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 as part of its plan to familiarise local Filipinos with the law.

Philippine Ambassador Nestor Z Ochoa said the embassy is awaiting approval of funding from the Philippine government to print more copies of the booklet, which was launched on October 10 this year.

Only 1,000 copies are currently in circulation – not enough for the more than 21,000 Filipinos in Brunei, which account for the biggest group of non-Muslim expats in the country.

The ambassador spoke to The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the launch of the ‘Filipinos in Brunei’ book at the embassy yesterday. The book, written by Cecile Castilla and published by AdsAllure, is a collection of 20 stories of Filipinos in Brunei which details their aspirations, challenges and achievements.

Ambassador Ochoa and French ambassador to Brunei Loan Forgeron launched the book.

Following the enforcement of the first phase of Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 in May this year, the Philippine Embassy launched its own unofficial simplified guide to the Syariah Penal Code to help local Filipinos understand the law.

Ambassador Ochoa added that “ideally, everybody should have a copy (of the booklet). We hope that we can get the funding for it so we can produce more for our Filipino nationals.” The booklet lists the provisions implemented in the first phase, the offences and punishments and their applicability to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

“It is important for all Filipinos to understand Syariah Law. There are many terminologies (in the law) which may be difficult for many to understand, especially for the layman. So we’ve simplified the law so all Filipinos can understand it,” he said.

A brief introduction to Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 is also available on the embassy’s website at

The Brunei Times
Sunday, December 7, 2014

syariah not against ham

EU funds publication of Bangsamoro law primer

bangsamoro basic law
Bong S Sarmiento

A PRIMER on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), funded by the European Union (EU), was presented to the public on Friday.

The BBL is the measure now deliberated in Philippine Congress to legalise the creation of the new Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which crafted the BBL, presented to the public the BBL primer during a ceremony in Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila.

The primer will be in English and six local languages, and more than 50,000 copies will be published.

“As part of the EU’s long-standing support for the peace process in Mindanao, we are very pleased that EU funds have enabled the production of this key publication,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said in a news release.

Attending the public presentation were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

Malaysia brokered the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF).

The GPH and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), their final peace agreement, last March after 17 years of negotiations.

The key feature of the CAB is the creation of the Bangsamoro government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BBL is a tool which can be used to organise conversation, debate, and dialogue with all the stakeholders.

It will again prove to be an excellent tool in the preparations for the future plebiscite. It will help to describe, explain, and clarify the various aspects of the law and how this will affect the everyday life of the Bangsamoro people, the EU Philippine Delegation statement said.

The publication of the primer has to be considered a further effort of the BTC to make the peace process as transparent as possible, by enabling everyone to clearly see its benefits.

It has the ultimate objective of inclusiveness so that the negotiated peace settlement would be truly sustainable, it added.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, November 30, 2014

bangsamoro map

MILF forms political party for 2016

Mohagher Iqbal

Mohagher Iqbal

Germelina Lacorte

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is now starting a political party that will bring the group waging over four decades of war in Mindanao to participate in the 2016 elections.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, told reporters in a side interview during the launch of the European Union’s Journalism Awards here on Friday that the MILF’s involvement in the political exercise would finally shift the group’s paradigm away from bullets and toward ballots by participating in the elections.

“We have already started to organize the MILF political party because as a group coming from a conflict situation to a peace settlement situation, we have to engage in a regular political exercise—meaning not through bullets anymore but through the ballot,” said Iqbal, who heads the MILF panel in the talks with the government that ended with the signing of the peace agreement early this year.

He didn’t know yet who would run and for what positions, Iqbal said. It was premature to divulge the details, he added.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission would help prepare the MILF leadership for the prospect, he said. “In the interim, there will still be the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, but after that, it’s free for all,” Iqbal said.

“Whoever wins will run the Bangsamoro government,” he added.

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), or the law that will provide how the Bangsamoro shall be governed, has to be passed and ratified by Congress before it is submitted to the people in a plebiscite.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles earlier said in an interview in Davao City that both panels hoped to complete the decommissioning of MILF forces before the 2016 elections to allow the group to participate in the elections.

“I hope the decommissioning will be completed before 2016 because it would be unthinkable for an Army to participate in the elections,” Deles said.

Although the symbolic decommissioning of MILF forces already started as soon as the draft BBL reached Congress last month, the MILF can only effect the decommissioning of 30 percent of its forces once Congress ratifies the law.

Iqbal said that the decommissioning of another 35 percent will take effect once the Bangsamoro police is established; and another 35 percent, after all the signed agreements and documents are fully implemented.

“Decommissioning does not mean you have to surrender or destroy your firearms,” Iqbal said.

“There are conditionalities attached to each of its phases,” he said.

“[In] the first phase, which includes the symbolic decommissioning once the draft of the proposed law is submitted to Congress, [it is] only when Congress passes and ratifies the BBL that the MILF will undertake

30 percent of its arms,” he added.

He said that another 35 percent will take effect once the Bangsamoro police is established.

“Full decommissioning, which takes place after the MILF undertakes another 35 percent of its forces, can only begin once all the agreements and documents [they have signed] are implemented in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Iqbal also expressed confidence that Congress will pass the BBL before

June 2015.

“I think the BBL will pass through Congress,” Iqbal said.

“We have been very consistent in saying that we trust the collective wisdom of the members of Congress,” he added.

He also described the reception of the peace agreement among Christian communities as generally “warm,” noting the enthusiasm and the warm reception expressed by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo and Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. in Cotabato City, although fears are being expressed in Basilan province and Zamboanga City, which Iqbal said were unfounded.

About critics and spoilers, he said: “That’s a reality for all peace settlements, but what’s important is, at the end of the day, we’ll be able to handle all those issues and move forward until we finally settle them.”

Philippine Daily Inquirer

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MILF chief: Bangsamoro to bolster Islam in Mindanao

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Benigno S Aquino III

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Benigno S Aquino III

Bong S Sarmiento

THE creation of the Bangsamoro government will not only bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Filipinos but, more importantly, will advance and bolster Islam as a way of life in Mindanao.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), issued such pronouncement as he greeted the entire Muslim Ummah in the celebration of the holy feast of Aidil Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice.

October 6 was a national holiday in the Philippines for the celebration of Aidil Adha.

“Alhamdulillah, our more than 40 years of long struggle for freedom and self-determination is now gradually bearing fruits,” he said.

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF signed last March 27 the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), their final peace agreement after 17 years of negotiations.

The CAB envisions the creation of the new Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“With the help of Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, our hope for justice, peace and prosperity for the Bangsamoro people and homeland and most importantly the advancement of Islam as our way of life is bolstered and strengthened,” Murad said.

The Bangsamoro government will be legalised with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and its ratification by the constituents in the proposed territory, the core of which is the ARMM.

ARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

President Benigno S Aquino III submitted a BBL draft mutually agreed by the GPH and the MILF last September 10 to the Philippine Congress, which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Aquino and Murad had met twice in Japan to push the peace process forward, which has gained support not only from the domestic front but also from the international community.

The President has certified the BBL as a priority legislative measure of the administration. The leadership of both houses of Congress has vowed to support the bill.

Murad said it is vital for the Bangsamoro people to carefully examine the BBL “because ultimately, we will all be beneficiaries to the dividends of the fruit of the peace we have been striving our level best to attain and preserve.”

He also called on those who have not yet registered to enlist so they can participate in the plebiscite.

Murad said they expect the plebiscite to take place “before the end of 2014 or early 2015.”

The MILF had agreed to decommission its firearms as part of the normalisation process.

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Philippines deports Bilal Philips

Dr Bilal Phillips

Dr Bilal Phillips


The Philippines has become the latest country to kick out a controversial Canadian cleric whose orthodox Islamic teachings made him unwelcome in Britain, Germany, Australia and Kenya.

Bilal Philips lectures in the United Arab Emirates, but he regularly appears at events in Canada and was last year the imam of a Toronto mosque.

Philippine officials say he was reported to be “inciting and recruiting locals to conduct terrorist activities,” a top immigration official said on Wednesday.

Siegfred Mison, head of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, said Mr. Philips, would be deported within the week after the bureau filed a complaint that he was an undesirable individual.

Police said Mr. Philips was also barred from entering the United States and Australia because his activities were considered a threat to national security.

Mr. Philips is a controversial figure who has repeatedly made headlines, though he has never been charged. Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, he was a Communist while in university in Vancouver before converting to Islam in 1972 and studying in Saudi Arabia.

Philippine officials said Mr. Philips is a resident of Dubai but, for about six to seven months in 2012-13, he was the acting imam at Toronto’s Abu Huraira Center. At the time, he was visiting Toronto and was forced to remain in Canada because federal officials delayed his passport renewal while they investigated him, according to an interview he gave to the National Post.

He was in the news because British bombing suspect Muktar Said Ibrahim read from one of his pamphlets. Mr. Philips also says his phone number was in the address book of a man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This, he says, explains why his name is among those in a lengthy list of unindicted people linked by U.S. prosecutors to the World Trade Center case.

A U.S. congressional committee heard in 2006 that Mr. Philips mentored Ali Al-Timimi, a Virginia man convicted in 2005 of inciting terrorism. The panel also heard that, during the first Persian Gulf War, Mr. Philips ran a program to convert American soldiers posted in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Philips says allegations that he supports terrorism or that his writings are an inspiration for terrorists are a form of guilt by association. Supporters say that he is considered a senior scholar among English-speaking Imams.

Mr. Philips has also been accused of being homophobic. He says that gays should be punished by death in countries governed by Islamic law. German authorities accused him of inciting hatred against gays when they expelled him in 2011 following a speech in Frankfurt.

In the latest incident, police in the the Philippines started questioning Mr. Philips in southern Davao City on Sunday, a few days after his arrival, Mr. Mison said, adding that the Canadian had been due to travel to the city of Zamboanga, also in the south, to give a lecture to Muslims there.

“Based on various sources of information, he was supposed to be inciting and recruiting people to conduct terrorist activities,” Mr. Mison told reporters, but gave no details of the sources.

“He was also barred from entry into Germany and other European states for his activities,” Mr. Mison added. “Right now, he is in the custody of the police. He is blacklisted.”

He said Mr. Philips was the second foreign national to be deported over alleged links with Islamist militants, after an Australian Islamic preacher caught last July in Cebu in the central Philippines.

The Philippines has been checking raw intelligence reports that about 100 Muslims in the predominantly Muslim south had left the country in response to the global calls of Islamist militants to fight for Iraq and Syria.

MuslimVillage, 14 September 2014


Better justice for domestic workers

tki bruQuratul-Ain Bandial

LOW wages, long working hours and no rest days.

Not an appealing prospect for anyone, although almost six per cent of Brunei’s residents live under such conditions.

Over 22,000 domestic workers employed in the Sultanate, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, cited similar complaints.

A recent study conducted by three women’s advocacy groups revealed that domestic workers in Brunei are paid less than $1 an hour.

Nisaa Yura of Jakarta-based NGO Solidaritas Perempuan said that on average, those interviewed for the study worked 12 to 17 hours a day, for a monthly salary ranging from $200-300 per month.

Filipino domestic workers command a fee of between $300 to $400 a month.

“There is definitely a disparity between the working hours and wage rate,” she said.

Contract substitution remains the most prevalent problem among domestic workers.

bru solidaritasperempuanIn their home country, these women sign a contract that offers higher pay and weekly rest days, but once in Brunei, amendments are made to their salary packages, often with $50 to $100 less.

As long as they live in the employer’s house and they eat with the employer they think that $200 to $250 is enough,” Nisaa said.

“But if we step back and see the reason why Indonesian women become domestic workers, it’s about structural poverty. Becoming a domestic worker or migrant worker is not solving the problem. With the wages they can send their children to school, they can pay their loans, etc, but it cannot solve the poverty itself. It’s not improving their economic conditions.”

Contract substitution has become a rampant practice among Filipino domestic workers since the minimum wage demanded by the Philippine government increased in the late 1990s.

“Most workers are aware their salary will be lowered when they come here but they are still willing to sign the amended contract because they see it as ‘clean money’ that will not be taxed,” said Nur Judy Abdullah, vice president of Brunei’s Council on Social Welfare (MKM).

Nur Judy Abdullah

Nur Judy Abdullah

She added that the amended contract is usually put forth by the agency that recruited the worker, to comply with salaries Bruneian employers are accustomed to paying.

Recruitment agencies also level hefty recruitment fees on the worker – ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 – which they pay back through monthly deductions from their salary.

“The worker usually will not start earning money until they’ve been in the country for six months to a year,” Judy said.

When asked if this practice is legal, Judy said that it was a vague area defined by law, and that there was not proper regulation of recruitment fees.

Unpaid wages or delayed payment is also a major concern among domestic workers but difficult to prove as all transactions are made in cash.

Judy suggested that to protect workers’ rights, Brunei should follow the Singaporean law which requires employers to deposit their maids’ monthly salary into a bank account.

“Unless a domestic worker shows a pay slip it is difficult to prove whether she has been paid or not. Usually women with complaints of unpaid wages will go to their embassy to make complaints instead of to the police. The majority of these cases go unreported.”

In 2012, the Indonesian embassy recorded 55 cases of unpaid wages, 55 complaints of being overworked and 42 cases of abuse or harassment while the Philippine Embassy recorded 11 cases of unpaid wages and seven cases of maltreatment, including one attempted rape.

For the majority of domestic workers, legal redress and access to justice is often hard to come by.

Jordan Chang of the Women’s Legal Bureau of the Philippines recounted one case where a Filipino maid was physically abused by her employer but found little in the way of justice.

“She was pushed down a ladder and the male employer also hit her. She was not paid for several months so sought the help of her recruitment agency first, there was no action. So she sought the help of the Philippines embassy.”

After the embassy made enquiries, the employer was still unresponsive so she asked to return to the Philippines. “She was only seeking payment, not compensation for the abuse,” Jordan said.

However, migrant workers that choose to seek legal remedies for their grievances often end up blacklisted.

Jordan cited a case of a domestic worker that lodged a police report of sexual harassment against her employer, who in turn filed a counter -claim. Due to the legal action against her, she was put on the immigration blacklist and prevented from returning to Brunei.

“The Philippine embassy only reports to police if the domestic worker insists, what they try to do most of the time is reconcile because the chances are the worker will be on the losing end. They can easily be blacklisted and they can’t return to Brunei anymore and they don’t want that to happen.”

Jordan and Nisaa agreed that cases of abuse and rape of domestic workers in Brunei are uncommon, and that the Sultanate has a better track record compared to its neighbours, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as countries in the Middle East.

However, cases of abuse often go unreported because there are many challenges in proving the offence.

bru tki“From our interviews, abuse might not be that prevalent, because we only know about the cases that are reported,” Jordan said.

“But there is also verbal and psychological abuse. It becomes common and people no longer look at it as abuse. These exploitative conditions are realities to so many domestic workers.”

All the NGOs involved in the study said the Brunei government should improve access to justice so domestic workers feel comfortable reporting their grievances.

“Our recommendation for Brunei and all ASEAN countries is to provide an environment where workers feel dignified in working and not just a machine, working for long hours. They should be informed of their rights and made to understand them.”

Sixty per cent of ASEAN migrant workers are not covered by national labour laws, trade unions or minimum wage.

“The recognition of domestic work as formal work, is our primary recommendation to Brunei and ASEAN,” said Jordan.

“We already have the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention recognising domestic work as formal work, and Brunei should ratify the convention.”

The convention would ensure domestic workers enjoy conditions “not less favourable” than other workers, requiring governments to ensure their rights to collective bargaining and a full rest day every week.

The Brunei Times
Monday, July 28, 2014

TKI Brunei