Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III vowed that the national government will meet its targets in bringing genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
During the presentation of the Intergovernmental Relations Body’s (IGRB) first-year accomplishment report to President Duterte, Dominguez said that much work still needs to be done to ensure that genuine autonomy will benefit grassroots communities in Mindanao.
Dominguez, however, admitted that “a continuing challenge” remains in establishing a new autonomous political entity, which is under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
But the finance official noted that the IGRB and the other intergovernmental relations (IGR) boards are determined to “undertake creative solutions toward moral, democratic, deliberative and responsive governance.”
The IGRB is body mandated to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations between the national government and BARMM through regular consultations and continuing non-adversarial negotiations.
“We remain determined in accomplishing our targets and reaping the dividends of peace because of the way we have worked in synergy in the pursuit of our common goal,” Dominguez said.
Last Thursday, Dominguez and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim presented in Malacanang their accomplishment report, which the two officials described as “remarkable” despite the myriad challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
In presenting the report to President Duterte, Dominguez said the document is a testimony to the chief executive’s commitment to bring genuine autonomy in the region.
According to Dominguez, the national and BARMM representatives acted “with haste, but with prudence,” to “resolve points of divergence and reconcile differences to keep the transition of the BARMM moving at the fastest possible pace.”
In December 2019, the Terms of Reference (TOR) governing the conduct of the IGRB meetings was issued during the first meeting of the IGR in Davao City.
In 2020, the IGRB had convened five virtual meetings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and was able to set in motion four mechanisms necessary for the effective implementation of the BOL.
These IGR mechanisms are the Fiscal Policy Board, the Joint Body for Zones of Joint Cooperation, the Infrastructure Development Board and the Energy Board.
“With the unrelenting dedication and strong partnership among the IGRB members, what could have been obstacles in the first year of the complex transition process were threshed out successfully,” Dominguez said.
“The report demonstrates that much progress has been made in putting in place not only innovative institutions of autonomy, but also a service-oriented, people-centric, and transformative civic culture,” he added.
The IGRB was among the innovative features under the BOL, given that intergovernmental relations mechanisms were absent in previous proposed organic laws on the creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
“We are here today because of the leadership, vision, and determination of President Duterte and Chief Minister Ebrahim as well as the mutual trust and respect shown by everyone in the IGRB,” Dominguez said.