SCENE CITY| Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister confers passports for Indonesians in Mindanao

H.E. Mrs. Retno L.P. Marsudi visited Davao City on January 3, 2018 to confer passports for Indonesians living in Mindanao, held at the House of Indonesia.

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The Indonesian Foreign Minister also announced the Islamic Education Program with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs as well as Secretary of Education of the Republic of the Philippines at the Islamic School/Madrasah in Davao City.

This program is the follow up of the discussion between Presidents of both countries (Indonesia and the Philippines) as well as the Trilateral Meeting among the Foreign Ministers during the 50th ASEAN in Summit in Manila on Nov. 12, 2017.

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Some 300 Indonesian residents of Balut Island received passports.

After five decades, 57-year-old Mardi Sarageti, who is currently residing in Balut Island, Davao Occidental, finally obtained a passport issued by the Indonesian government. It may be a regular a document to some people, but to him, it’s about reaffirming his roots.

“Now that I have this, I can proudly claim that I am an Indonesian citizen,” Sarageti, head of Indonesian Christian Congregation UCCP Pakeluaso, said in Cebuano. He said the passport will prove that even if he was born in the Philippines, he is an Indonesian citizen.

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He said he has been in Balut Island since he was born as his grandparents chose to live there beginning in the 1950s. Traveling to Indonesia from the island via a pump boat takes seven hours.

Sarageti was among those who obtained passports at the House of Indonesia in Juna Subdivision with the presence of Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Consulate General of Indonesia in Davao processed 300 passports for the first phase of the program.

Marsudi said they will continue to process more passports in the near future. At present, there are 2,425 Indonesians who are currently in Mindanao especially in areas like Balut Island and Glan in Sarangani.

The Foreign Minister’s visit to Davao City also included the Indonesian government’s firming up ties with the national government to bolster education program in Islamic schools in the island.

Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, said part of the partnership includes curriculum development, exchange workshop, Ulama teachers exchange program and student exchange program. This, she said, is also in partnership with civil society organizations.

“One of the key elements to strengthen people is education,” Marsudi said during the launching of the Islamic education cooperation between Indonesia and Philippines at Al-Munawwara Islamic School in Barangay Ma-a. Al Munawarra Islamic School is the recipient of the program.

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Marsudi said it will be expanded to other Islamic schools so they could also benefit in curriculum development and opportunities to have exchanges of teachers and students. The exchanges, she said, would mean that it would give them an opportunity to gain education in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government will also offer annual scholarship to Madrasah students and teachers to study in Indonesia.

“Our presence here is to show how close we are people to people,” Marsudi said.

The Islamic education cooperation between Indonesia and Philippines is among the agreements that both governments will pursue to boost people to people exchanges and enhance education in the country.

 The Indonesian government also vowed to improve its cooperation with the Philippines on trade, maritime security and anti-terrorist operations. (With Kristianne Fusilero)

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