Bagong Pilipinas: Championing peace, progress in Mindanao, BARMM



Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

As a Muslim and a daughter of Mindanao, it always touches my heart to see how President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) demonstrates his love and commitment to the second largest island of the country, and especially to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),  home to almost five million Filipinos.  I believe PBBM views the island as a key piece of the country's development puzzle. In his 2023 State of the Nation Address, the President emphasized, "Through the BARMM, we have strengthened the nation’s prospects for finally achieving sustainable progress anchored on a true and lasting peace in the Southern Philippines. We will continue to support the progress of the BARMM, apace with our singular vision for all Filipinos." 

True to his word, PBBM has initiated efforts to ensure "peace with progress," as he had said during the 17th National Government-Bangsamoro Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) Meeting.  Through PBBM's support, we at the IGRB have activated all seven IGR mechanisms under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and are working on establishing regional offices in BARMM.  Relatedly, through the Circular on the Joint Award of Petroleum Service Contracts and Coal Operating Contracts of the Intergovernmental Energy Board under the IGRB, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy and the Department of Energy launched the 1st BARMM Conventional Energy Bid Round for petroleum, coal, and native hydrogen on February 26, 2024, to ensure the security and self-sufficiency of the region’s energy supply. 

The administration also fully supports infrastructure projects for Mindanao, including mass transport projects such as the massive Mindanao Railway Project and the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project.  Moreover, just last May 2, PBBM issued Proclamation No. 530, creating and designating the 15,000-square-meter Tupi Information Technology Park in South Cotabato as a Special Economic Zone to boost not only foreign investments in the area but also spur economic growth in the entire island.


Mindanao visit

On April 29, I witnessed PBBM's dedication and passion towards BARMM, spending his entire day in Mindanao as he actively led five back-to-back events despite his busy schedule.
As the highlight of our visit, PBBM led the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Maguindanao del Norte. Signed on March 27, 2014, the CAB is the final peace accord between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which paved the way for the passage of the BOL and the creation of BARMM. During the event, he emphasized the importance of unity and cooperation in achieving real, lasting, and sustainable peace and development. He underscored, "To us, there is only one peace, and that is when the bloody tally of war is replaced by the scoreboard of development. That scoreboard shows that peace has won and that the war is over." 

Further, he recognized the need for a whole-of-society approach to uplifting the lives of the Bangsamoro people and highlighted the importance of the normalization of the Bangsamoro communities. According to the President, an honest exchange of ideas and strong political will are needed for the success of the Bangsamoro region. He reminded the people to exercise their right to suffrage and to focus on building productive and thriving communities. He also urged the people to dedicate their work to those who did not see the dawn of peace, stating that they have lost generations of good men and women, caused unnecessary grief, and held back decades of shared growth. Thus, he emphasized the need to be vigilant against enemies of peace and terrorist elements and not allow the ideology of dismemberment to be preached. 

Before the CAB anniversary celebration, the President led the graduation ceremony of Batch 2023-01 Classes Alpha-Bravo Bangsamorong Kapulisan, Sandigan ng Lipunang Pilipino, or “BAKAS-LIPI,” who completed the Bangsamoro Police Basic Recruit Course. He stressed the importance of peace, justice, and reconciliation for the Bangsamoro people, stating that the graduates' mission is not merely to serve the people but also to contribute to a more secure future, for they now represent the order and change they aim to pass on to their children. 

We also attended the inauguration of the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Stage II in Pikit, Cotabato. The project is expected to provide water to almost 10,000 hectares of land, benefiting more than 4,000 farmers. Indeed, the project is not only a waterway but a spring of life for our nation, as it will bring bountiful harvests, nourish many families, and ensure the children's fair share of progress. "It is a major infrastructure for peace and development as well," PBBM noted. 

Aside from these, PBBM also visited the wounded-in-action soldiers of the 6th Infantry Division at Camp BGen. Gonzalo H. Siongco in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte. And to cap the day off, he spoke with the rest of the troops, lauding their efforts in maintaining peace in the community. 

Beyond budget, the administration of PBBM understands how critical it is to promote peaceful relationships to guarantee success and development for everyone in the area and to fulfill his Bagong Pilipinas vision of a sustainable, inclusive, and participatory nation. Indeed, the President is correct: "Bagong Pilipinas is incomplete without a Bangsamoro rising along and within it." 

Thus, I am truly proud and grateful to our dear President for continuously pushing for prosperity and development in Mindanao and the BARMM to transform them into a center of peace and order. Hence, I call on my fellow Mindanaoans to rally behind PBBM and show the same commitment and dedication he exemplifies.

(Amenah F. Pangandaman is the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.)