CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (08 MAY 2024) — The national government hailed the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as an emerging commercial and investment hub, and is turning into “the land of promises fulfilled.”

This was the consensus during the 18th Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) meeting held here on Wednesday, May 8, wherein the socioeconomic gains achieved by the BARMM over the years were lauded and attributed to the activation of seven mechanisms under the body.

In her remarks during the meeting, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman commended the BARMM leadership’s efforts to foster peace and development in the fast-developing region.

“We are also on the path to making the Philippines—through BARMM—an investment destination. The Bangsamoro region generated some Php 3.3 billion worth of investments in the last three months of 2023 alone, generating employment for 1,927 workers—proving that BARMM is truly transforming from the land of promise into the land of promises fulfilled,” Secretary Pangandaman emphasized.

BARMM Minister Iqbal underscored the key role of the IGRB in spurring development in the BARMM, describing it as a mechanism that has helped align the national and BARMM governments’ development plans, programs and policies.

“The IGRB will continue to play a fundamental role in this transformative journey. As a vital intergovernmental mechanism, it ensures that the governance framework aligns with the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, while maintaining coherence with national policies,” Iqbal said.

Creation of the regional offices and DEOs

Creating the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Regional Offices and District Engineering Offices in BARMM is seen to fast-track development and progress in the BARMM.

The Bangsamoro Government shall participate in the ongoing legislative process to support the immediate passage of the bill on the creation of such.

Pangandaman reaffirmed her agency’s full support to this effort, as she pledged that the national government will work closely with the Ministry of Public Works.

The IGRB has been instrumental in fostering cooperation and coordination among BARMM ministries with their counterparts in the National Government. This is being done through regular consultations that aim to address key issues and concerns.

The body’s Third Progress Report shall be presented to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. sometime in July after its 19th meeting in Manila.

Scoreboard of peace and dev’

“We knew that peace to our people will be found in the businesses launched, in the jobs that were created, the schools, the new hospitals that were opened, the farms that were irrigated, the roads that will be constructed,” President Marcos Jr. said in his speech during the 10th Commemoration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“To us, there is only one peace, and that is when the bloody tally of war is replaced by the scoreboard of development. That scoreboard shows that peace has won, and that the war is over. Peace is totally achieved not when the sound of gunfire has ceased,” he added.

“I am once again conveying my commitment to the normalization of the Bangsamoro communities, especially to the MILF and the MNLF members. Sinasabi ko nga, ang kapayapaan ay hindi nakakamit sa trabahong pangmadalian o paminsan-minsan lamang,” the President emphasized.

“Kaya noong Pebrero, dumalo ako sa pagpupulong ng Intergovernmental Relations Body, ang ika-anim na pagtatagpo sa ilalim ng aking Administrasyon. Kasunod nito ang pagdalaw ko sa Basilan upang masaksihan ang decommissioning ng mga baril at armas. Ito ay pagpapakita lamang na marami pa na gagawin para makamit na natin ang kapayapaan at kaunlaran na ating minimithi,” he noted.

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

According to the President , 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.

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

Strong commitment to CAB’s implementation

Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. expressed confidence in the collective effort of all stakeholders in strengthening the foundations of peace and transforming the Bangsamoro into a model of peace and development not only in Mindanao but across the country and beyond.

Galvez pointed out that “the path to peace has certainly been filled with a lot of challenges” but through the unwavering commitment and all-out support of our stakeholders, the country has been moving closer to its “shared goal of uplifting the lives of Moro brothers and sisters, and creating a more peaceful, progressive, and prosperous future for them.”

“While the government and the MILF remain equally committed to the successful implementation of the CAB, everyone must take ownership, be accountable, and support this remarkable process of transformation that is sweeping across the Bangsamoro,” he noted in his message during the Comprehensive Agreement in the Bangsamoro’s (CAB) 10th year anniversary celebration.

“Nais nating pasalamatan ang ating mahal na Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sa inyong buong-pusong pagsuporta sa prosesong pangkapayapaan sa Bangsamoro. Isa ring pagpupugay sa pamunuan at mga miyembro ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front sa inyong sinseridad at determinasyon na isulong at pangalagaan ang mga dibidendo ng kapayapaan sa rehiyon,” he said. ###