PASIG CITY — The national and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) governments have agreed to re-establish the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs consular office, as well as set up a Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) regional office in the BARMM.

These were among the key agreements made during the 13th Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) meeting held here on Friday, February 24.

To recall, the DFA previously had an office in Cotabato City but ceased to operate. Meanwhile, the PRC has no satellite office within the region, thus setting up a satellite office will help a lot of BARMM professionals apply for and renew their professional licenses.

In her opening message, Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, who serves as IGRB co-chairperson for the national government side, highlighted other major issues that are being discussed by the body’s technical working groups.

These include the conduct of the annual Hajj and Umrah; the nationwide recognition of the Bangsamoro Land Transportation Office (BLTO); and the transfer of properties from the national government to the Bangsamoro government.

“With these achievements in only six-months’ time, I know that we will soon see a more united Philippines where no Filipino is left behind, not even those in the farthest areas of BARMM,” Pangandaman said.

She is hopeful that the body will be able to bring prosperity in the region, saying, “There is still much work to be done ahead. But I hope that with these achievements in just a few months’ time, we are all inspired to continue working hard towards our Agenda for Prosperity in BARMM.”

For his part, Minister Mohagher Iqbal, IGRB co-chair for the Bangsamoro government side, lauded the excellent working relationship between the National and Bangsamoro governments.

“Notwithstanding the President’s declaration that today is a special non-working holiday, all of us chose to be present here today as a gesture of mutual commitment to the strong cooperation and coordination between the national government and the Bangsamoro government, in the name of public service,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal also underscored the body’s goal of bringing government services closer to the Bangsamoro people.

“In essence, we desired to bring government services that are not currently being offered by the Bangsamoro Government, closer to the Bangsamoro people. This further gives meaning to the work that we do in the IGR Body; by not limiting our conversations to matters that present conflict or require non-adversarial dispute resolution,” he said.

Also present during the meeting were Defense Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. and Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno.

Under Section 2, Article VI of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the IGRB was created to coordinate and resolve issues between the two parties through regular consultation and continuing negotiation in a non-adversarial manner.

Among the national agencies which attended the IGRB meeting are Office of Special Assistant to the President, Finance, Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Public Works and Highways, Agriculture Senior Transportation, National Economic and Development, and the Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, which was attended by its Acting OPAPRU Isidro L. Purisima.

IGRB members from the Bangsamoro government side from Bangsamoro Transition Authority and ministers from Finance, Interior and Local government, Social Services, Public Works,
Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform, Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy; and Transportation and Communication.

The IGRB is supported by a Joint Secretariat co-headed by OPAPRU Presidential Assistant Wilben M. Mayor and Bangsamoro Attorney-General Atty. Sha Elijah B. Dumama-Alba. ###