MANILA – The recent report released by the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) reflected the fulfilled promises of President Rodrigo Duterte to sustain the gains of the comprehensive peace process in the Bangsamoro region.
The IGRB is composed of officials from the national government and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal as co-chairpersons.
Iqbal, Dominguez, and BARMM officials met with President Duterte at the Palace on Thursday to discuss the second progress report of the IGRB, covering December 2019 to December 2021 where 11 key issues in the first progress report have been addressed.
“This report is a manifestation that President Duterte remains committed to bringing lasting and sustainable peace closer to the Bangsamoro people. He stayed true to his promise of honoring all signed peace agreements," Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.
The concerns included the transfer of properties and assets of offices of national government agencies within the BARMM to the Bangsamoro government; nationally funded programs; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in the region; participation of the Bangsamoro government in the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines; policing in the Bangsamoro; creation of an inter-agency committee for purposes of inventory; transfer of real properties of the ARMM outside the BARMM; joint exploration, development, and utilization of fossil fuels and uranium; Bangsamoro participation in the national government; establishment of a Shari’ah Supervisory Board and an Islamic Banking Unit within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; and participation of the Bangsamoro government in the Southern Philippines Development Authority.
Among the major milestones achieved were the turnover of the Cotabato City District Engineering Office to the Bangsamoro government; signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs; creation of a regional office of the Bureau of Local Government Finance; creation of a Philippine Coast Guard District; transfer of management of Bangsamoro historical and cultural sites; inclusion of local government units in the Department of Agriculture's Philippine Rural Development Project and all its four components; audit of mine operations by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council; and funding of state universities and colleges.
Galvez lauded the IGRB for the accomplishments that marked "steadfast commitment marked with mutual trust, respect, and sincerity [that] contributed largely to the smooth and efficient delivery of services to the Bangsamoro people".
Iqbal thanked Duterte for meeting with them during the last days of his presidency, “which we consider one of the most sincere and facilitative administrations, and a friend to the peace process”.
"I can truly and proudly say that he has shown his sincerity in more ways than one with his actions as he fulfilled his promises of supporting the Bangsamoro peace process during his term of office,” he added.
Dominguez said Duterte’s strong support to the peace process enabled them to move in a timely manner towards achieving the ideals set by the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
He thanked the President for having a firm political will to make the Bangsamoro peace process one of his "administration’s priorities".
“There was always trust and goodwill on both sides during the meetings. The progress made by the IGRB is a true testament to what we all can achieve together through close collaboration and strong partnership,” Dominguez said, adding he hopes the next administration will sustain BARMM’s transition into a peaceful and more progressive community.
“In the remaining days of the Duterte administration, we commit to continue working hard to ensure that urgent pending issues are resolved and the transfer of work for this historic initiative with the new government will be seamless,” he added.
Members of the IGRB include Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Acting Finance Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, representing the national government agencies.
Member of Parliament Ali Pangalian Balindong, Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin Pendatun, Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra, Social Services and Development Minister Raissa Jajurie, Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform Minister Mohammad Yacob, and Transportation and Communications Minister Dickson Hermoso, represented the Bangsamoro government.
President Duterte encouraged relevant government agencies to "continue supporting the BARMM to maintain the genuine, sustainable, and long-lasting peace we have worked so hard for”.
“We have taken the first step and now we must push forward to ensure that peace will stand against the test of time and give hope to the coming generation,” Duterte said during the meeting. “We have not only solved and ironed out critical issues in governance but also paired our commitment with upholding human dignity and advancing human welfare in the Bangsamoro.” (PNA)