BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim (File photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office)

COTABATO CITY – Poverty incidence in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has significantly decreased over the past three years, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said on Friday.

Speaking during the culmination program of the week-long third anniversary of the region, Chief Minister Ahod "Murad" Ebrahim quoted a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) stating that the BARMM’s poverty incidence has significantly reduced from 55.9 percent in 2018 to 39.4 percent in 2021.

“We recorded the highest and the only double-digit reduction in terms of poverty incidence in the whole country. We achieved this despite the ongoing pandemic and despite undergoing the difficult transition period,” Ebrahim said in his online “Report to the Bangsamoro People” at the BARMM government center here.

“Achievement and indicators such as these only validate that when all things considered, we are indeed heading into the right direction,” he added.

Ebrahim said the bigger challenge for BARMM leaders now is how to sustain this momentum “and perhaps more importantly how we can make these figures felt by every Bangsamoro.”

He lauded the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and the country’s lawmakers for giving the transition another three years to complete its commitments under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

“We are fortunate that we will have three more years to continue the very important and crucial transition period. As we all know, the issue on the extension of the transition period has now been finally settled,” he said.

“Needless to say, we are delighted to have the continuing support of our legislators and our dear president. Like all of us here in the Bangsamoro, they too want the BARMM to succeed and continue its momentum to sustainable peace and development,” Ebrahim said.

He, however, said some pessimists think that the additional time rightly afforded to the transition period would mean that they would be complacent.

“On the contrary, I would say that the proper mindset is that we need to be even more steadfast in our work. It is incumbent upon us to make the most out of this opportunity, not for ourselves, but for our beloved Bangsamoro… Bangsamoro as a region, as a government, and as a people,” he said.

Ebrahim also challenged all BARMM leaders, especially the decision-makers not to take everything for granted, especially on the finances in running the affairs of the regional government and the desire to improve the lives of Bangsamoro.

“Remember that every peso we spend, and the resources that we use are from the blood, sweat, and tears of the mujahideen and the people who went through so much pain and suffering for the sake of the struggle,” Ebrahim said, adding that “leaders must, by all means, give justice these sacrifices.”

He rallied the leaders to continue to serve the Bangsamoro with pure hearts and sincere intentions.

2022 elections

Ebrahim also took the opportunity to remind the Bangsamoro to participate in the coming elections.

“Political exercises such as this are meant to make our region and our nation stronger. This is an opportunity to shape our future and our children’s future,” he said.

He also rallied all people to work hand in hand with authorities in ensuring to have a free, honest, credible, and peaceful election.

“Let us work in enabling an environment where everyone can vote without fear, intimidation, and violence. And I further hope that elected officials come May 2022 can work with us in putting the Bangsamoro people above anything else,” he said.

Priority codes

Ebrahim said in his report the accomplishments of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), and the challenges they weathered during the past three years.

He said the ratification of the BOL was historic and important to the Bangsamoro people.

“The spirit of that momentous event three years ago still lives on today. We were mandated by our people to put up a government that will finally put to rest the decades-long conflict, turmoil, and worries that our people had gone through,” he said.

Ebrahim cited and recognized the three major accomplishments of the BTA in its infancy stage.

He said of the six priority codes, three have been enacted - the region’s administrative code, the civil service code, and the education code.

Ebrahim said the local government code has been submitted to the parliament and is now at the committee level, while the electoral code is scheduled for further discussion after it had gone through several revisions at the cabinet committee level.

The draft revenue code, on the other hand, will be completed within this year, he said. (PNA)