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National and Bangsamoro gov’t Intergovernmental Relations Body convenes under Marcos administration

DAVAO CITY (1 December 2022) – Members of the national and Bangsamoro governments aim to strengthen their collaborative efforts on how to move the Bangsamoro peace process forward as the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) convened for its twelfth meeting, its first under the Marcos administration.

In her opening remarks, Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, who serves as IGRB co-chairperson for the national government side, noted the body’s recent accomplishments which include the inaugural meeting of the IGRB under the Marcos administration and the successful convening of the Philippine Congress – Bangsamoro Parliament Forum (PCBPF).

“At this inaugural meeting of the PCBPF last Nov. 15, we were able to garner legislative support from the National Government and Bangsamoro Parliament in pursuit of our Agenda for Prosperity for BARMM and Mindanao,” Pangandaman said.

“Everything we’ve done up to this point is a step in the right direction for our shared goal of inclusive prosperity for the whole Philippines. Today, as we continue on this path towards lasting peace and prosperity for BARMM, Mindanao, and the country, I pray that our meeting will be one of many successful meetings in resolving the various issues relating to BARMM,” she added.

For his part, Minister Mohagher Iqbal, IGRB co-chair for the Bangsamoro Government side, highlighted the instrumental role of the body in the region’s quest for meaningful autonomy.

“The role of the IGR body during the transition period and even beyond, is crucial in our quest to establish genuine autonomy and meaningful self-governance in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. It is along this line that we need to, once again, review the provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to determine IGR issues that need to be addressed, discussed, and resolved at the level of this IGR Body.”

Iqbal also encouraged the body to make use of their time “wisely, efficiently and effectively in this exercise, while at the same time, build strong collaborations and lasting relationships along the way. As I always say, once you have ensured good working relations with your counterpart, half of your work is done.”

Key role in nation-building

In a press briefing following the IGRB meeting, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos emphasized that the IGRB is an indispensable mechanism in nation building.

Abalos noted that the IGRB was created to resolve pressing issues and concerns regarding the implementation of the BOL.

He also lauded the body for what it has accomplished so far, saying, “issues are tackled in a pleasant manner because both parties are not only thinking about the autonomy of the BARMM, but as well as the unity of the country. I would like to congratulate our two chairs for handling this challenging task.”

For his part, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. threw the OPAPRU’s full support behind the body.

“The Bangsamoro peace process is one of the priorities of the Marcos administration. We witnessed the President [has] expressed his support during the region’s recent milestones, which include the oath-taking of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority and also their inaugural session. As a support to the President’s order, we are dedicating resources to ensure its successful implementation,” Galvez said.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Jr. reaffirmed President Marcos’ full support for the body.

“The instructions for me in particular, is to make sure to provide what’s needed in the BARMM and national government. The President is also very positive in the recent developments, and is looking forward [to] a better relationship between the BARMM and the national government,” Lagdameo said.

“Rest assured that we’re backing up everyone here. We’re here to assist and here to help,” he added.

IGRB composition

Under Section 2, Article VI of the BOL, 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 IGRB has seven mechanisms, which include the Philippine Congress – Bangsamoro Parliament Forum, Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation, Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board, Intergovernmental Energy Board, Bangsamoro Sustainable Development Board, and the Council of Leaders.

The members of the IGRB from the national government include Special Assistant to the President Sec. Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Jr.; Secretary of Finance Benjamin F. Diokno; Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Atty. Benhur C. Abalos, Jr.; Department of National Defense Senior Usec. Jose C. Faustino, Jr.; Secretary of Public Works and Highways Manuel F. Bonoan; Secretary of Energy Raphael P.M. Lotilla; Department of Agriculture Senior Usec. Domingo F. Panganiban; Secretary of Transportation Jaime J. Bautista; Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning Arsenio M. Balisacan, and OPAPRU Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr..

The Bangsamoro government’s representatives to the IGRB include Speaker of the BTA Parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Ali Pangalian M. Balindong; Senior Min. Abdulraof A. Macacua; Cab. Sec. Mohd Asnin K. Pendatun; Minister of Finance, Budget and Management Ubaida C. Pacasem; Minister of the Interior and Local Government Naguib G. Sinarimbo; Minister of Social Services and Development Raissa H. Jajurie; Minister of Public Works Eduard U. Guerra; Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform Mohammad S. Yacob; Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Akmad A. Brahim; and Minister of Transportation and Communication Paisalin C. Tago.

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

Türkiye envoy says PH peace process a ‘model’ for other countries

PICC, PASAY CITY — Türkiye Ambassador H.E. Niyazi Evren Akyol expressed his government’s full support to the comprehensive Philippine peace process, noting that it is something that other countries can get inspiration from.

Aykol made this commitment during a courtesy visit to Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Glvez Jr. here last November 26.

“It is actually said in the UN speech of President Marcos, when he said we have achieved this great moment [in the peace process]. And I present this to you as our example to work this way if you are elected to a security council,” Aykol said.

“Our world is full of conflict and the peace process in the Southern Philippines. We know how difficult and impossible it was. And now we can say it is possible. It is actually a model in my opinion for mediation efforts that other countries can use. Not only the present situation of BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) but the process is more important, how it has gotten there,” he pointed out.

Sustaining the gains of peace

During the meeting between the Turkish envoy and Galvez, the two discussed the peacebuilding interventions being carried out by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) in support of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

This initiatives include, among others the delivery of the socioeconomic interventions to the six previously government-acknowledged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps and 33 core barangays outside the Bangsamoro region; the implementation of the decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons; and the provision of capacity-building support to the BARMM government to ensure its smooth transition until the first BARMM elections in 2025.

Galvez emphasized that the implementation of the normalization process is crucial, as fulfilling the national government’s commitments under the CAB is expected to pave the way for the signing of an Exit Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF by the end of 2024.

The peace adviser also briefed Aykol on the Transformation Program to be implemented for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members; the Normalization Program being carried out for members of the Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) now called Kapatiran; as well as the capacity-building efforts that are helping former communist rebels rebuild their lives.

Türkiye’s commitment to Bangsamoro peace process

“I’d like to note that Türkiye is a long time partner in the peace process. We have the best interest in the success of the peace process and its stability in the Philippines,” Aykol said.

“The implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and now, the functioning of the BARMM, these are the turning point for a lasting peace in the Southern Philippines,” he added.

Cooperation between the Philippines and Türkiye encompasses a wide range of areas, including trade, commerce, education, and peace and development.

The Turkish Government, through its Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has been implementing various socio-economic interventions in the Bangsamoro since 2015.

In 2017, Türkiye’s bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines reached to $1,490,000.

Among the programs the TIKA has implemented include livelihood projects in cooperation with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the delivery of a Php7 million mobile operating clinic to help in the implementation of the Comprehensive Bangsamoro Health Development Program.

Recently, TIKA has also provided educational materials and medical equipment to schools and clinics catering to the needs of the Muslim community in Mindanao.

The development agency has also supported the Bangsamoro Rescue Team (BARET), an independent non-partisan humanitarian organization operating in Cotabato City and neighboring provinces.

In particular, TIKA has provided the team with an emergency response vehicle and other equipment such as stretchers, wheelchairs, portable oxygen, communication and radio sets, and fire safety equipment.

“Allow us to express our gratitude and of course beyond that, the strong commitment of President Marcos Jr. [to our nations’ strong partnership]. I’ve been talking to other ambassadors who are interested in the peace process and have joined our voice in praising President Marcos’ strong leadership,” Galvez told Akyol.

Support to decommissioning process

“We deeply appreciate the successful finalizing of these agreements, but his commitment is most admirable and we are supporting him in any way we can. You can trust and rely on us, [as] we will continue to go further, especially on the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) which is very important,” Aykol said in response.

The IDB was established in 2014 by the GPH and MILF to oversee the process of decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons in accordance with the CAB.

The body is composed of three international experts (including the IDB chairperson) and four local experts jointly nominated by the GPH and MILF. Türkiye has chaired the IDB since its inception.

Galvez thanked the Turkish government for its unwavering support and commitment to help push forward the Philippine peace process.

“We thank the Turkish government for their support. Despite the distance of our countries, Türkiye has always felt close, through their programs and projects implemented here in our country. Thank you for the commitment and rest assured that our government will always be willing to help any way possible,” Galvez said. ###

OPAPRU to push for institutionalization of Human Fraternity Document

DAVAO CITY (24 November 2022) – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) vowed to push for the promotion, adoption and institutionalization of the Human Fraternity Document across all key sectors of society.


JPST Tungawan Station: A symbol of GPH-MILF unity in Zamboanga Sibugay

TUNGAWAN, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY — The white and blue-painted structure standing at the heart of this coastal municipality has become a symbol of the enduring partnership between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


Message of Secretary Carlito G Galvez, Jr. for the Mindanao Week of Peace 2022 Celebration

The men and women of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) join all of you, our fellow peace builders, peace advocates and peace workers, as you celebrate the Mindanao Week of Peace with the theme “Harnessing our Peace Efforts: Towards Solidarity.”


OPAPRU continues relief efforts in storm-stricken MILF, MNLF communities in Mindanao

MATANOG, MAGUINDANAO (21 November 2022) — To augment the national government’s disaster relief efforts in provinces affected by Typhoon Paeng in the Bangsamoro region and neighboring areas, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) continued the distribution of assistance packages to victims.

The OPAPRU’s relief operations are focused on Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) communities that were severely hit by the typhoon.


Former warrior gives up arms for “peace of mind”

PANTAO-RAGAT, LANAO DEL NORTE — “Ngayon, pwede na kami lumabas, [at] pumunta ng palengke. Malaya [na] kaming maghanap ng hanapbuhay.”

This was shared by Guro (not his real name), a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatant, when asked how his life and that of his family have changed after he underwent the decommissioning process in 2019 together with his comrades.


Statement of Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. on decommissioning process of the MILF combatants

The implementation of the decommissioning process of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces is guided by the roadmap of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro specifically in the Annex on Normalization, which is agreed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF.


Philippine Congress, Bangsamoro Parliament convene for historic legislative forum

SOFITEL, PASAY CITY — The Philippine Congress – Bangsamoro Parliament Forum convened for the first time here on Tuesday, marking another milestone in the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

The meeting was led by Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB) co-chairs, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)  Minister of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education Mohagher Iqbal.

The Philippine Congress was represented by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. Members of the Bangsamoro Parliament, Senators, and members of the House of Representatives were also in attendance. (more…)

GPH, AFP, MILF-BIAF vow to strengthen coordination and cooperation in sustaining peace, dev’t in Basilan

ISABELA CITY, BASILAN (14 November 2022) — Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G Galvez, Jr. looked on as LtC. John Ferdinand Lazo, commanding officer of the 64th Infantry Battalion, and Commander Huram Malangka of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) shook hands and embraced each other, with both men agreeing to closely coordinate and maximize existing peace mechanisms to avoid the outbreak of hostilities and protect the island-province of Basilan from lawless elements.