PRESS RELEASE (DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE) | 19 January 2021 — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said the significant progress made in 2020 by the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) of the national and Bangsamoro governments underscore the Duterte administration’s firm resolve to ensure a successful and functional autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.
As a result of the intensive discussions during the six meetings held by the IGRB since December 2019, Dominguez said the body was able to act swiftly on its deliverables, which include setting in motion four intergovernmental relations (IGR) mechanisms necessary for the effective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
These are the Fiscal Policy Board, the Joint Body for Zones of Joint Cooperation, the Infrastructure Development Board and the Energy Board, which, according to Dominguez, ensured “adept responses to the issues and challenges that face this vital transition” of the BARMM to a fully functioning autonomous government.
“Notwithstanding all the challenges that faced the nation this year, this crucial body (the IGRB) was able to convene six times to resolve key issues and concerns. This is among the clearest indications of the Duterte administration’s resolve to help ensure the successful transition of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” Dominguez said during the recent 6th meeting of the IGRB held virtually via Zoom.
The IGRB, co-chaired by Secretary Dominguez and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, held its 6th meeting, the last one for 2020, last Dec. 18, or just a little over a year since the body first met in Davao City on Dec. 16, 2019.
Dominguez said that amid the limitations set by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGRB “worked hard to resolve our points of divergence and reconcile differences to keep the transition moving at the fastest possible pace.”
Iqbal also acknowledged the accomplishments made by the IGRB, which, he said, has been giving life to the provisions of the BOL and fulfilling its mandate of pursuing the success of the peace process and the BARMM.
Both Dominguez and Iqbal committed to continue in 2021 with their vigorous efforts to realize the shared goal of the national government and the BARMM to bring genuine and meaningful autonomy to Muslim Mindanao.
They both cited the successful turnover of the supervision over Cotabato City and 63 barangays in North Cotabato to the BARMM last Dec. 15 as among the accomplishments of the IGRB.
When the IGRB first convened in Davao City in December last year, Dominguez expressed optimism that the body could “transform points of differences into points of cooperation between the National Government and Bangsamoro Government.”
The IGRB is mandated to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultations and continuing non-adversarial negotiations.
Dominguez said during the IGRB’s first meeting last year that the body “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.”
The IGRB is considered an innovative features of the BOL, given that intergovernmental relations mechanisms were absent in previous organic laws on the creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
Dominguez said the creation of the IGRB was a historic initiative that is closely observed by concerned countries across the globe.
(Cover image is a file photo taken during the 1st IGRB consultative meeting, 16 December 2019)