PASAY CITY – In pursuit of the Filipino people’s collective vision of achieving genuine and long-lasting peace, unity, reconciliation, and prosperity, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. underscored that a robust Bangsamoro region is an integral part of a “Bagong Pilipinas.”

“Bagong Pilipinas is incomplete without a Bagong Bangsamoro rising along and within it,” the President said during the 17th National Government-Bangsamoro Government Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) meeting on Thursday, January 8.

“A stronger BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) means a stronger Mindanao, and a stronger Mindanao means a stronger Philippines, bringing us closer to achieving our Prosperity Agenda,” he emphasized.

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.

The President said that the IGRB meeting, the sixth under his administration, “reaffirms our shared commitment not just to peace, but peace with progress.”

“It builds on the gains of the past, fueled by mutual trust, guided by lessons learned, and inspired by the many wins, which give us the confidence that our shared vision for the Bangsamoro will be fully realized,” he noted.

“We are acting with dispatch not because of the deadlines we have set, but because a people, battered by war for years, should not be denied their destiny to live in peace,” the President added

According to the Chief Executive, the joint efforts of the National and Bangsamoro governments have significantly contributed to the crafting of key legislation, such as the region’s priority codes.

“This democratic hallmark of finding common ground – through consensus, not conflict – is what also led to the rich harvest of Bangsamoro enacted laws,” President Marcos said.

To date, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority has passed five of its priority laws which include the administrative, civil service, education, electoral, and local governance codes.

Peaceful, credible elections in the BARMM

President Marcos said that the impact of all the interventions being carried out by the BARMM leadership during the transition period will be validated in May 2025 when the BARMM holds its first regular elections.

He thus called on Bangsamoro officials to respect the sanctity of the democratic process in the region, “Giving the vote to the people to choose their leaders is the logical follow-up to the grant of self-rule to your land.”

He urged them to make this first election a success, saying, “Show the whole world that it is peaceful and credible.”

The President, however, reminded the Bangsamoro leadership: “On this, let me be blunt in my warning as it is what our people want: Let not one bullet disenfranchise one single ballot. After the elections, it will be a new chapter for BARMM.”

He is optimistic that the conduct of the first regular elections in the region will be a success, emphasizing that, “What gives me hope is the belief that you have prepared well. You are ripe and ready.”

President Marcos reminded everyone of the significance of the first elections to the region and the Bangsamoro people.

“As we mark this historic day, let us never forget the debt we owe to those who perished during the long night, from all sides, brothers all, combatants and civilians, whose blood nourished the land so peace can finally bloom,” he said

“…we owe it to our children, and our grandchildren, that the horrors and the harrows of the past must never visit them again; that as brothers and sisters united under one nation, we can forge a better future in a kinder society where opportunities reward hard work, dreams come true, and peace with justice reigns,” the President added.

Productive partnership

In his message, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim attributed the gains achieved by the BARMM to the “productive partnership between the national government and the Bangsamoro government, facilitated through the IGRB.”

“Indeed, this is the perfect forum to continue our noble work and advance our shared mission of peace and development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Ebrahim said.

He also stressed the urgency to “fast-track all pending work and beat the deadlines we have set, without compromising on the integrity of the hard-won peace agreement,” as he pointed out that this year leading to 2025 is the final stretch of the extended transition period.

As the election draws near, Ebrahim said that their vision of the BARMM government remains clear, which is, “the establishment of an autonomous region that is functional, ready, and thriving in an ever-changing and competitive society.”

For her part, Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman gave her full commitment to help sustain the progress made by the region.

“We will not leave our future vulnerable to threats that will undermine the developments that we have painstakingly pushed,” Pangandaman said.

“We must not forget that democracy requires solidarity. It means that as we strive for a better future for our country, we – a nation united despite religious differences – are all in this together,” the budget chief, who also serves as the IGRB’s co-chairperson for the national government.

Pangandaman said her agency fully supports the ideals of the Bagong Pilipinas as envisioned by President Marcos, “where solidarity transcends partisan divides and mobilizes citizens from all walks of life to engage actively in the pursuit of common goals.

For his part, BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal and IGRB co-chairperson for the Bangsamoro government, said that this partnership serves as a shining example to other nations across the globe, “Where the most seasoned of political leaders are scrambling to end the wars in their midst, we in the Philippines and in the Bangsamoro are reaping the fruits of our sincerity, mutual esteem, and determination to make the lives of our people better.”

“What seemed unthinkable and what amounted to bureaucratic nightmares are now realities that have become normal and at par for the course for Bangsamoro governance,” Iqbal said.

These strides, he said, “is made through the effective and productive collaboration of the National Government and the Bangsamoro Government,” and a testament to the “unflinching commitment of our principals – the Chief Minister and the President – as well as all those involved in ensuring the success of this political solution to the decades- and even generations-long armed conflict.”

Bagong Pilipinas – rally call for peace and unity

Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said that Bagong Pilipinas is a clarion call for national unity and the moral transformation of society that guarantees equal opportunities for all Filipinos, and enables them to uplift their lives and reach their fullest potential.

“As envisioned by President Marcos, it is a masterplan for genuine development that benefits all our people,” Galvez said.

He emphasized that this mindset resonates with the ongoing work for peace and development being implemented in the region, “to unite and share a common goal of bringing the dividends of peace and development closer to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, ensuring that no one will be left behind.”

“Together, as one nation, we will be able to build and strengthen the foundations for sustainable peace and progress not only in the Bangsamoro but also in Mindanao and the whole Philippines,” Galvez said.

“United and indivisible. Let us aspire to become radiant beacons, illuminating the once dark and war-torn Bangsamoro, to one that will show solidarity and diversity, and foster healing and reconciliation in the country,” he noted.

“As aligned with Bagong Pilipinas’ call for transformation, the comprehensive Philippine peace process outlines a strategic plan on fulfilling the national government’s commitments under all signed peace agreements, as well as fostering reconciliation and unity among our people,” he said.

Anchored on the Bagong Pilipinas’ concept of a principled, accountable and dependable government, Galvez said the “OPAPRU continues to improve and develop as an organization that is attuned and responsive to the needs of the people and emerging realities on the ground with the ultimate goal of bringing long-lasting peace and sustainable development in the Bangsamoro region.”

The President stressed “the things that matter most to our people, for whom we are walking the hard but high road to peace.”

“Because peace is neither found in the documents we have exchanged, nor in the elegant prose of our agreements, nor in the minutes of these meetings,” he said.

“Peace to our people is found in jobs created, schools opened, farms irrigated, new hospitals opened, roads constructed, businesses launched,” he emphasized. ###