The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and Notre Dame of Midsayap College (NDMC) have forged a strategic partnership to bolster civic education and research efforts within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's (BARMM) Special Geographic Area (SGA). Signed on March 8, 2024, by IAG Executive Director Atty. Benedicto Bacani and NDMC President Fr. Ramon Maria Bernabe, this agreement signifies a joint commitment to pooling resources and engaging stakeholders and the public across the SGA.


Encompassing 63 barangays across six municipalities in North Cotabato, the SGA is an integral part of BARMM, having been incorporated following a two-part plebiscite in early 2019. Governed by the BARMM since late 2019, the SGA is poised for further development, with an upcoming plebiscite on April 13, 2024, to potentially establish eight new municipalities.


The IAG-NDMC partnership is strategically positioned to address the evolving needs of the SGA, particularly in the advancement of civic education and research initiatives. Initial areas of focus include promoting the rule of law, good governance, and fostering interreligious and intercultural dialogue. In the lead-up to the plebiscite, efforts will concentrate on enhancing voter education and awareness.


Founded in 1941 as the first Notre Dame School in Asia, NDMC brings to the partnership a rich educational heritage and a multicultural faculty and student body. Situated near the SGA, NDMC's mission to cultivate a culture of peace and dialogue makes it an ideal partner. Notably, thirteen barangays in Midsayap have voted to join the SGA, further solidifying NDMC's stake in the region's development.


Building on successful partnerships like the recent cooperation agreement with the Mindanao State University (MSU) System, this collaboration between IAG and NDMC reinforces their dedication to promoting democracy, rule of law, human rights, and pluralism as cornerstones of sustainable peace and development in the region. IAG's expansion to the National Capital Region through its Manila office in January 2024 further contributes its expertise to the national discourse on these issues.


Together, IAG and NDMC are poised to make significant strides in advancing civic education and research initiatives within BARMM's SGA, empowering the community with knowledge and fostering a brighter future.