A GIRL FROM MARAWI by Samira Gutoc

A GIRL FROM MARAWI by Samira Gutoc

Amanah Islamic Bank networking

Our country has grappled with Mindanao’s insurgency for so long and the recovery is just starting after five decades of armed conflict. So now that the conflict is ended with the biggest revolutionary group, the MILF, what are the next steps?

As a former member of the Amanah Islamic Bank (AIB) Board, I value the importance of the Islamic and halal way of life. Thus, I advocate against AMAN, Kapa and any other kind of financial schemes that promise impossible suspicious gains. For the Muslim community, interests and profits from money have always been prohibited. In Islam, we cannot earn interest from money ITSELF; profit has to come from transactions and the sale of goods.

I was seated among the people who believe in ISLAMIC FINANCE and bid to further its principles in the Philippines, where the population had grown to 100 million. Ara Belleng, Ummo Jibreel and Yassen Ala were part of a “barkada” who are hoping to set up a consultancy group to monitor the progress and execute even Islamic finance products and education to be thrown into the mainstream.

The Islamic Finance Bill championed by former Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Rep. Djalia Hataman is now successfully passed in the Lower House. And even in the Senate, it is has already been approved and reportedly just awaiting the signature of the President. Support for Islamic finance will enable us to enter the global trillion dollar industry and get us closer to the Arab world which hosts the biggest number of OFWs.

While I was in the Board of Amanah Islamic Bank , we were the proponents of installing ATMs; a Hajj pilgrimage savings fund and account; a strong marketing and communications (UNIT); and rebranding. We also sought out to have partnerships with chambers of commerce; and education and scholarship on Islamic Finance. Many of these resolutions were passed and spent on especially that AIB received P1 billion from Amanah’s mother company Development Bank (DBP) as a start-up capital a decade ago.

Note that there is NO ISLAMIC FINANCE LAW to govern and there are a few Islamic finance experts in the Philippines. We only have THREE or so who took up the course.

The sad and tragic immobility of Islamic finance is further hindered by the fact that not even the single biggest budgeted Muslim entity – the ARMM – could NOT deposit in the ISLAMIC BANK because we lacked a Department of Finance (DOF) circular or issuance that allows government entities to deposit. Subsequently, the ISLAMIC BANK was forced to have a limited clientele .

AIB’s main branch will transfer from Makati to Greenhills, a long-awaited move because we cannot get as many clients, particularly Muslims, if we are far from them and not accessible.

We are hoping for a brighter future for this unique entity. We are working to transform all these hopes into reality so that, through Islamic financing, we can build a bridge between the poor Muslim South and the mainstream banking system.

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