THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is at the forefront of fostering awareness about Islamic banking and finance in the entire country. Since the 2018 enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11439, otherwise known as the Islamic Banking Act of the Philippines, the BSP has been actively promoting a sustainable Islamic finance ecosystem throughout the archipelago.
BSP Assistant Governor Arifa A. Ala said Islamic banking and finance is not exclusively for Muslim clients but also for non-Muslims, whether local or foreign. “The objective of the government is to establish a level playing field for both conventional and Islamic banking systems,” Ala disclosed after receiving the 2022 “WOMANi Professional Award” from the Cambridge Institute of Islamic Finance during a ceremony held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In 2022, the BSP created the Shari’ah Supervisory Board (SSB) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm). The SSB’s primary function is to issue Shari’ah opinions on Islamic banking transactions and products in the Barmm, composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
However, investors are hesitant to put up businesses in the newly-created province of Maguindanao del Norte because of a governance issue: it has two officials claiming the position of provincial governor. One is Acting Governor Fatima Ainee Limbona-Sinsuat, who was an elected vice governor of the undivided Maguindanao province prior to its split-up into two provinces by virtue of RA 11550, which was ratified through a plebiscite held in October 2022. The other is OIC Governor Abdulraof A. Macacua, who was appointed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in April 2023.
The Supreme Court, in a decision promulgated in June 2023, declared that Sinsuat is the rightful governor based on the provisions of RA 11550 passed by Congress in 2021. The Barmm Governors’ Caucus, composed of five out of the six Barmm provincial governors, supports the ruling of the highest court in the land. But if the decision is not followed by the Barmm regional government and Malacañang, it could set a dangerous precedent whereby the executive branch undermines the balance of power enshrined in the Philippine Constitution—thereby going on a collision course against the legislative and judicial branches.
To prevent a full-blown constitutional crisis, it is imperative that all parties involved should approach the issue with restraint and respect for the rule of law. The national government must address the underlying concerns about political interference and the potential for conflicts of interest in future appointments, particularly in regions like Barmm with a history of armed conflict. This will serve as a litmus test on the strength of our democratic institutions, which may ultimately determine whether our economy can attract more investments or lose out to other countries.
Evolution of online gaming
INTERACTIVE Entertainment Solutions Technologies Inc. (IEST), a subsidiary of Philippine Stock Exchange-listed firm Diversified Financial Network Inc. (DFNN), has partnered with a European company, Evolution Malta Holdings Ltd., to raise the online gaming experience in the Philippines. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Evolution is a global leader in the live casino industry.
IEST’s online platform, InPlay.ph, will integrate Evolution’s suite of live games through this strategic partnership. According to DFNN Vice President for Marketing Jacob Edel, “this partnership will enable us to enhance our offering and provide players with access to the finest live casino games available globally. We are confident that our players will appreciate the immersive and interactive nature of Evolution’s live dealer games.”
InPlay.ph is the leading platform in the Philippine online gaming industry, of which it is the first mover. Its collaboration with Evolution’s professionally trained dealers and state-of-the-art technology is poised to cement IEST’s position as an industry pioneer that will set new benchmarks for the local gaming sector.
As DFNN continues to execute its strategic vision of diversifying into cutting-edge technologies, it recently announced the appointment of California-based Nicholas Te as a member of its board of directors. In a media interview, he explained that “DFNN’s storied experience with gaming, digital commerce, cyber security and artificial intelligence will greatly benefit our navigation of these untested waters.”
Te is an engineer at Tesla Inc. who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in materials science and engineering. He believes that DFNN’s foray into space technology will create a platform for investments in weather communication, land development and mineral resource technologies.
Joseph Gamboa is the vice-chairman of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) Ethics Committee and director of Noble Asia Industrial Corp. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions and the BusinessMirror. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph