The Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) tasked to build on points of cooperation between the national and Bangsamoro governments met for the fourth time in October to find ways of further fast-tracking the processes leading to a functional autonomy in the new Muslim Mindanao region.
During the meeting held via Zoom, the IGRB urged the national government and their counterparts in the Bangsamoro government to speed up the process of delineating the local and national programs in the new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao to determine which of these may be funded by the national government.
The National Government-Bangsamoro Government IGRB instructed the concerned national government agencies and ministries of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to meet with their counterparts and speed up discussions on this major issue.
The IGRB, co-chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, have agreed to regularly meet every 90 days beginning December 2019 when the body was first convened in Davao City.
But Dominguez said the IGRB, which last met on August 28 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, convened earlier than the usual 90-day timeframe last October 9 to move ahead with the discussions on the issues that need to be threshed out by the body and speed up the implementation of the provisions under Republic Act (RA) No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Dominguez called on the BARMM not to hesitate in bringing as soon as possible to the national government’s attention any issue that needs to be addressed immediately by the IGRB to further fast-track the process of resolving urgent concerns between them.
Iqbal, for his part, thanked Dominguez and the IGRB members from the national government for finding ways to speed up the resolution of issues from BARMM’s end.
He said the BARMM expects to sustain the cooperation it has carefully built with the national government.
During the meeting, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) committed to establish regional offices of the Bureaus of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and of Fire Protection (BFP) in the BARMM, as mandated under the BOL.
In terms of its personnel and organizational structure, the BFP is already operational in the BARMM, but the establishment of its facility is still ongoing.
The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) also committed during the meeting to establish a regional office in the BARMM.
The IGRB also discussed the creation by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) of a district in the Bangsamoro region in coordination with the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (BARMM-MOTC), which is also mandated under the BOL.
On the transfer of the management of historical and cultural sites in the BARMM, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) agreed to engage with the BARMM’s Bureau of Cultural Heritage (BCH) on this concern.
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Energy Board (IEB), which held its kick-off meeting last September 3, agreed to discuss the energy development issues in the BARMM such as those concerning joint exploration, development and the utilization of fossil fuels and uranium.
Dominguez has underscored the need to put in place the coordination mechanisms between the national government and the BARMM, such as the IEB and the other intergovernmental bodies to accelerate the implementation of programs leading to lasting and genuine peace and development in Mindanao.