The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging local government units (LGUs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to support the interim BARMM Regional Government led by Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim saying that there is “no room for failure in this opportunity for change and a fresh start.”
“We cannot afford to fail in BARMM because this does not only represent the long years of struggle of Muslim Filipinos for meaningful autonomy but this is also a rare chance for the long forsaken and embattled region to start a new chapter in their region’s history,” says DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año said that while there are peculiarities and differences in political beliefs and customs, “we must take actions that would open doors for unity and harmony among our people.”
“Kailangan nating magkaisa upang magkaroon ng kapayapaan at kaunlaran hindi lamang sa BARMM, kundi sa buong Pilipinas. Ngunit mangyayari lang iyon kapag ang mga desisyon natin may konsiderasyon sa kalagayan ng kapwa Pilipino – maging ano man ang paniniwala, kultura, o lahi,” he said.
Año and senior DILG officials held a consultation-dialogue with the governors and mayors of BARMM yesterday in Quezon City in order to discuss the delineation of the roles and functions of the national government, BARMM, and LGUs in view of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
During the consultation, BARMM LGUs raised the need for greater coordination between them and the BARMM regional government and the seemingly lack of support to BARMM of some LGUs because they did not vote for the BOL.
The DILG Secretary assured BARMM LCEs of the Department’s full support in guiding and assisting them in the transition process and onwards, reiterating the role of DILG to facilitate consensus with the regional government and the LGUs on the best ways forward through the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) mechanism and other informal means. “We need to consult each other, and plan and craft the future together.”
“The DILG will be the link of the BARMM to the national government and to the president. All of these will be defined. The DILG will be the enablers [of BARMM] where we will exercise supervision,” explained Año.
He also shared with the group the agreements made during an earlier meeting among the DILG, the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and BARMM Officials led by Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim about institutional arrangements on programs between the National Government and BARMM government, specifically on matters pertaining to interior and local governance.
Among the agreements during the said meeting are: provision of capacity building interventions to improve the performance of LGUs and its constituents for efficient service delivery for the public; reactivation and development of local institutions that can be relied upon for peace and development especially local Peace and Order Councils (POCs); and cooperation among the DILG-PNP and NAPOLCOM, OPAPRU, and MILF to facilitate mainstreaming of former rebels into society; continuance of current national programs and projects for local development especially for social protection (e.g. infrastructure development, health, education and financial assistance).
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the Department will be present in addressing the concerns raised by the BARMM LCEs as the success of the new region can serve as an example of a successful federal region.
“It is incumbent upon the government to ensure the success of the BARMM as they are transitioning from ARMM to BARMM. BARMM is the litmus test for federalism. The success of BARMM and its constituent LGUs is the success of the cause of federalism,” said Malaya, who is also the administrator of the Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reform (CFCR).
He also said that the DILG will ensure the continuation of projects started by ARMM that were discontinued or currently suspended. “We asked the mayors to submit the list of these projects and we will assist in getting these projects back on track,” he said.
BARMM is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato City, and 63 North Cotabato barangays.