Singapore President visits Davao City; dialogues with Mindanao youth

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 September) – Singapore President Halimah Yacob is visiting this Philippine city where her country’s flag was set on fire 24 years ago in front of City Hall by then Mayor, now President, Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte’s children – Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte — hosted a dinner reception Tuesday for Yacob, former Speaker of parliament from the Muslim Malay minority and the first woman President of Singapore.

Yacob is the special guest at the Dialogue with Mindanao Youth at the Ateneo de Davao University on Wednesday morning.

The dialogue will focus on the “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” document that Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb issued in Abu Dhabi last February 4.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (2nd from right) and Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte (right) host a dinner reception for Singapore President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, at the Marco Polo Davao on 10 September 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In March 1995, then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte led the burning of the Singaporean flag after Singapore did not heed then President Fidel Ramos’ and what Duterte described as “the entire Filipino nation’s appeal” to stop the execution of Filipina domestic helper Flor Contemplacion and to review her case.

Contemplaction was executed on March 17, 1995.

Duterte smoked the peace pipe with the Singaporean ambassador in 1997 when Singapore’s Silk Air opened a route to Davao City. Investments from Singapore also started pouring in.

According to the press release from organizers, Yacob’s Dialogue with the Mindanao Youth aims to discuss the salient provisions of the “Human Faternity” document, engage Mindanao Youth Leaders in Inter-faith Dialogue
 and improve Philippines – Singapore relations.

In the first part of the Dialogue, Mussolini Lidasan, Al Qalam Institute Director and Member of Parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will lead the Pakighinabi (conversations) along with Prof. Mansoor Limba of the ADDU Islamic Studies Department; Christian Dominic Ang of the SAMAHAN Student Government; and other student-representatives from the Senior High School, the Salaam Movement, the Islamic Studies Department, and the Salaam-TAMS (The Ateneo Muslim Society).

Break out sessions will follow where participants will discuss insights gained during the Pakighinabi.

For the second part of the dialogue, ADDU President Joel Tabora will receive President Yacob at the Rodriguez Hall at 11:30 a.m. The President will sign the guest book and from there will be given a brief tour of the Assumption Chapel which before proceeding to the 11th floor of the Community Center of the First Companions, venue of the dialogue.

The University Chapel of the Assumption is a Catholic chapel with Moro and Lumad representations on the walls, chairs and altar.

“Our intention was to provide the University with a place of worship and prayer that would support its catholicity in the multiethnic context of Mindanao and its culture of Ignatian spirituality,” Tabora had earlier said.

Tabora will deliver the welcome address at the Dialogue, followed by President Yacob’s address.

Students will present their messages to the Singaporean President and proceed to the Q and A session..

Before attending Wednesday’s dialogue, Yacob will visit the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Calinan. Two Philippine Eagles from the center were flown to Singapore on June 4 for a 10-year loan program agreement signed by the Philippine government with Wildlife Reserves Singapore to protect the critically endangered raptors from extinction due to calamities

After dinner on Tuesday, Yacob visited the Aldevinco Shopping Center across Marco Polo Hotel to buy souvenirs. (MindaNews)