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Request for comment from DFAT on new $60M plans to engage with IS-supporters Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Why is DFAT planning to spend $60M to fund Islamic Madrassas for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao?

A few days ago we reported on the claim by the Islamic State that the Philippines island of Mindanao had become a province or Wilyat of the Caliphate.

We also reported details of a $38M foreign aid program funded by the Australian Government in Mindanao - to provide "Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (Philippines)".

Mindanao has a mostly Muslim population - while the rest of the Philippines is majority Catholic.  Armed groups of Islamist terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf are organised into military style units that operate with apparent impunity within much of the region.   Like the Taliban, they enforce a strict Islamic way of life and are notorious for beheading prisoners and other Islamic punishments for non-c0ompliance with their Mohammedan ways.

Mindanao is home to the only self-governed separate territory within The Philippines - the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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It has its own flag, seal and other trappings of autonomy - including the tell-tale sword of Islam and a predominantly Islamic way of governing

After the Tsunami in 2004 we gave about $1BN in foreign aid to the Indonesian province of Aceh.  Our aim was to foster goodwill between that predominantly Muslim territory and the West.   Judged on that intended outcome that program was a debacle.   Aceh has moved relentlessly towards a strict Sharia way of life including public canings and Sharia police who arrest women who aren't covered up.   You'd think we'd have learned our lesson.  In Muslim states, Islam prevails over Western values.   They'll happily take our money but not our way of life.

Australia's lefties are always on the look out for hopeless projects. Mindanao ticked all the hopeless boxes, strictly Muslim, armed Taliban like militia enforcing the Sharia and more recently pledges  of allegiance to the Islamic State.

In early 2012 the Gillard Government advertised this request for tenders:  


The Australia-Philippines Development Strategy highlights Australia's goal of improving access to and quality of basic education for Filipino children.  The Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BEAM-ARMM) Program is designed to assist the Government of the Philippines improve delivery of basic education in ARMM, the poorest and lowest performing region in the country.  

The contractor for the BEAM-ARMM will cover specific components:  Component 1b on Basic Education; and Component 3 on Technical Vocational and Skills Development for the Out-of-School Youth and Support to DepED-ARMM's Overall Program Monitoring and Evaluation.  The overarching goal of the program is to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in ARMM and in the longer term, the emergence of peace through closely targeted investments in basic education.

The Program's objectives are:

  • improve access, participation and completion rates in basic education; 
  • improve learning achievement in functional literacy and numeracy in elementary education; and improve the quality of teaching in English, Mathematics and Science in secondary school;
  • develop employment related skills for senior level of secondary school and for out-of-school youth; and
  • improve management systems within DepED ARMM.

Cardno Emerging Markets won the tender.  Their current contract runs from 2015 t5o 2017 and is valued at $38M - the Agreement with DFAT is titled  "Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (Philippines)".

Tensions are escalating in the Mindanao region between the Islamist groups who've pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and government forces from The Philippines.   Whatever outcomes the Australian Government's $38M is producing it's apparently not included a reduction in hostilities.  

Nor has our money produced  any move towards civilisation and away from Islam - quite the opposite.  

As a result of the proclamation by the Islamic State that Mindanao is now a province of the Caliphate, I wrote to DFAT for comment about our $38M and the wisdom of spending it in Mindanao.  My note concluded with:

Is the Australian Government aware of the Islamic State claim that Mindanao is part of the Caliphate? Is the DFAT funding for Muslim education in Mindanao affected?

What is the syllabus being taught in Mindanao through our $38M "Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (Philippines)"?

Can the Australian Government reassure us that none of our money goes to the benefit of the Islamic State or or to advance its teachings, including those of its subsidiaries like Abu Sayyat?

Given the Abu Sayyaf/Islamic State influence in the province, is it wise for Australia to fund Muslim education given the widespread traditional Islamic practices and influence on the way Islam is practiced?

Kind regards,

Michael Smith

Today I received this reply:


Michael, thanks for your email.

For your background, Australia works with the Government of the Philippines and the official Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to deliver targeted development programs, including through the Basic Education Assistance in Muslim Mindanao (BEAM-ARMM) program. We have been a long-standing supporter of the education sector in Mindanao, in recognition of the impact poverty and conflict has had on educational outcomes in the region. 

The DFAT AusTender notification represents an extension to a successful program which works with officially endorsed Government schools that teach government endorsed curriculum - it is not a new program. Funding moderate and good quality education is a better alternative to conflict and extremist teaching. All beneficiary organisations and schools are vetted to ensure that terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, Abu Sayyaf Group and known affiliates, do not receive funds. The syllabus used in this program is recognised and approved by the Philippines Government National Department of Education and is based on a standard core of literacy, numeracy, science and technology.

The Mindanao region remains under the control of the elected Government of the Philippines. The Australian Government works closely with countries in the region, including the Philippines, to address the threat of transnational terrorism.



What the DFAT official didn't tell me is that the current Government of Turnbull has well developed current plans to double our education commitment in Muslim Mindanao's Maddrassas or Islamic Schools.

Reader Seeker of Truth gave me this research earlier today:

 DFAT is going to provide more funding to its Mindanao education program through its Education Pathways for Peace in Mindanao Program. It is about to call for tenders once it receives anticipated Government approval in July 2016 and the OK from the Filippino government. It is budgeting for a further $60million to be spent on the program.


The bulk of the background material seeking fresh tenders for the $60M program in Muslim Mindanao is waffle like this:


The goal of the PATHWAYS program is:

Improved equity in the attainment of quality basic education of children in the ARMM - contributing to more resilience, stability, peace and prosperity in Mindanao.

Two “End-of-Program Outcomes” (EOPOs) are expected. These EOPOs are consistent with: Australian aid policy; current Philippine government development priorities for education and the educational aspirations of the Bangsamoro peoples. These EOPOs are:

Reduced disparity and improved participation and education performance of boys and girls experiencing disadvantage (EOPO 1)

Sustainable positive engagement, collaboration and convergence of key actors and stakeholders in providing and supporting conflict sensitive quality basic education services (EOPO 2)

The PATHWAYS program is designed to develop institutional capacity and strengthening of selected critical systems that are essential for improving equitable access to and the quality of educational services in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.  While delivery of some educational services may be supported directly through the program, these will not be large-scale as the primary purpose for supporting the delivery of these services is to demonstrate new and/or different approaches to inform policy, planning and budget decisions.  These demonstrations will also serve as an ‘on-the-job’ training ‘laboratory’ whereby individual capabilities and institutional capacity can be exercised and strengthened.  

The strengthening of individual capabilities, systems and institutional capacity can provide the ‘technical’ foundation upon which the key stakeholders will be able to ‘act’ to contribute to the attainment of EOPO 1.   However, a critical companion for the successful application of technical capability are the ‘human’ processes (EOPO 2) which are essential for ensuring effectiveness and sustained success in contributing to the program goal.  Both EOPOs must be addressed in tandem through an integrated implementation approach.  The central element of this approach is the engagement of the two core actors (the ARMM, specifically the DepEd-ARMM – on behalf of the GPH and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) on behalf of the MILF) through a ‘twin pathway’ implementation arrangement. 

The ‘twin-pathway’ arrangement will require different forms and levels of inputs, support and strategies for the DepEd-ARMM and for the BDA - guided by their respective mandates and requirements. The input, support and strategies supported by the program will remain focussed on the development of capacity and strengthening of selected critical systems.  The ‘twin-pathway’ arrangement is designed to be mutually beneficial and reinforcing by building on and utilising the strengths and institutional authorities of each institution.  As an example, the BDA together with the Tarbiyyah appear to be well positioned to support the strengthening of systems required to improve the quality of private madaris as well as contribute to the contextualisation of the national K-12 curriculum to reflect the aspirations of the Bangsamoro peoples.  Both of these initiatives, by engaging and supporting the BDA, will complement efforts of the DepEd-ARMM to effectively support improved quality of private madaris and ensure the contextualisation of the K-12 curriculum to meet the needs of all communities served by the DepEd-ARMM.

But amongst the bureaucratic-speak there are some frightening insights into DFAT's plans.  One of the "Twin Pathways" involves us funding the Tarbiyyah (education committee) of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and its Islmamic Madrassas.

Madrassa is a front word for Islamic Terror Training Institution.  Madrassas teach the Quran and students are brainwashed into believing that Muhammad led the perfect life - and they should follow in his footsteps.

We learn that "the Tarbiyyah appear to be well positioned to support the strengthening of systems required to improve the quality of private madaris (plural of Madrassa) as well as contribute to the contextualisation of the national K-12 curriculum to reflect the aspirations of the Bangsamoro peoples".

What a brilliant idea.  Australia contributing to the contextualisation of the curriculum to reflect the aspirations of the Bangsamoro peoples.

Would that be the aspirations of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 


Maybe there's a hint to our stupidity in the material from DFAT in support of the "PATHWAYS" program above where DFAT refers to the MILF

The central element of this approach is the engagement of the two core actors (the ARMM, specifically the DepEd-ARMM – on behalf of the GPH and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) on behalf of the MILF) through a ‘twin pathway’ implementation arrangement. 

Beyond the locker-room MILF is the acronym for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front - an entity we are apparently helping to achieve its aspirations.


Or maybe it's the Moro National Liberation Front?


Mindanao is a minefield of Islamist groups competing for territory.  But they have a joint objective after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.  That is the destruction of The West and the imposition of an Islamic Caliphate through traditional Islamic acts of terror.

I can understand Gillard grandstanding about Mindanao.

I can understand Muslim promoter Malcolm Turnbull doing it too.   And hiding it until July after the election.

But I cannot accept that the Australian people will agree with spending a further $60M to help out  The Tarbiyyah of the MILF and its Madrassas.

I hope the ALA and others who support our way of life  get all over this before the election.

I'd be surprised if the main stream media takes any interest at all - as they sleep walk to a date with the Caliphate.

We should not be spending one cent to help the spread of Islam.