MARCO POLO HOTEL, DAVAO CITY (December 16, 2019) – Members of the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) coming from the national and Bangsamoro governments convened here today for the IGRB’s first consultative meeting.

“This is a major step forward in realizing the substantial and functional autonomy envisioned in the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” said Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez during the meeting which aimed to, among others, finalize the body’s terms of reference.

Mechanism for cooperation and coordination

“It (IGRB) provides an institutional mechanism for sustained cooperation and coordination between the agencies established by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM and those of the national government,” Dominguez explained.

“It is mandated to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultations and continuing non-adversarial negotiations,” he added.

According to Dominguez, the IGRB will enable the national and Bangsamoro governments to have “constructive discussions aimed at exploring the best plausible solutions to transform points of differences into points of cooperation.”

“This will ensure that our policies and programs are service-oriented, people-centric, and transformative to bring tangible benefits and real change to the lives of the people in this region,” he said.

Dominguez is optimistic the IGRB would be able to address issues on protocols and procedures, saying, “What is important is that we commence with the work of this vital institutional mechanism” as the body “consolidate[s] the institutions of regional autonomy.”

“This is a historic initiative closely observed by concerned countries all over the world. I am confident that there is enough reserve of goodwill among the collaborating parties to make this initiative a success,” he said.

A platform for enhanced intergovernmental relations

With the passage and ratification of the BOL and the establishment of the BARMM, the national and Bangsamoro governments realized the urgency to create a platform that will further strengthen the relationship between both parties.

On October 14, 2019, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved the recommendation of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to establish the IGRB through a memorandum issued by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

As contained in the memorandum, the body was directed by the Chief Executive “to resolve issues brought before it and facilitate the creation of other intergovernmental relations bodies.”

The memo likewise stated, “The IGRB shall be supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, which is hereby designated to be the joint secretariat of the IGRB.”

On November 26, OPAPP convened the designated representatives of member-agencies to the National IGRB. During the meeting, OPAPP was directed to represent the national government in the body’s joint secretariat.

An opportunity-seeking mechanism

For his part, IGRB co-chair and BARMM Minister of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education Mohagher Iqbal, underscored the importance of the IGRB, describing the body as an “opportunity-seeking mechanism.”

“While people may generally believe that the IGR is a conflict-prevention mechanism, it is not. I would say in fact that is a wrong notion,” he pointed out.

Iqbal said the body aims to “find opportunities for greater cooperation and coordination between the BARMM and the national government,” as well as “implement the values and the principles of the peace process as enshrined in the Bangsamoro Organic Law.”

He added the IGRB seeks “to find opportunities to create new structures that will respond to the deepest yearnings of the people…This time as [an] attestation to the gains of the peace process between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”

“Despite the challenges and impediments that are often associated with a highly-political process, both parties managed to agree on significant action points, sign critical documents, and establish the structures to implement the peace agreements,” Iqbal said.

Noting that provisions on intergovernmental relations were “absent” in the previous organic laws for the autonomous region, he said the IGRB “would provide us with the opportunity to decide and agree on matters concerning the implementation of the law.”

“We are thankful to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for leading us to the path of opportunity so that we can reach the land of peace and prosperity for all – a land where there is justice for all,” Iqbal said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr said the creation and operationalization of the IGRB will “ensure that concerns involving policy and governance in the implementation of the BOL are acted on promptly and jointly by both parties.”

Galvez emphasized that the launching of the IGRB is both timely and relevant in light of the major gains the Bangsamoro peace process, which includes the ratification of the BOL and the establishment of BARMM, and the start of the decommissioning process.

“This is truly a very historic moment for the Bangsamoro people. All of the milestones we have achieved this year is a testament of the national and Bangsamoro governments’ desire to bring enduring peace and sustainable development to the region,” he said.

IGRB composition

Members of the IGRB from the national government include Secretary Dominguez; Interior and Local Government Secret Eduardo M. Año; National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana;  Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar; Cabinet Secretary Karlo A.B. Nograles; Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi; Acting Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar; Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia; and Secretary Galvez.

The Bangsamoro government’s representatives to the IGRB include Minister Iqbal; Member of Parliament and Speaker Ali Pangalian M. Balindong; Executive Secretary Abdulraof A. Macacua; Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Asnin K. Pendatun; Minister for Local Government Naguib G. Sinarimbo; Minister of Public Works Eduard U. Guerra; Minister of Social Services Raissa H. Jajurie; Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform Mohammad S. Yacob; Minister of Transportation and Communications Dickson P. Hermoso; and a representative from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy. ###