Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has expressed the hope that the new Bangsamoro autonomous region will “light up the pathway for rapid development” for the people of Mindanao, especially those from communities once torn by conflict.
Dominguez said the inaugural meeting in Davao City last Dec. 16 of the National Government-Bangsamoro Government Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) represents the commitment of the Duterte administration and the new government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to institute innovative mechanisms and yield productive results from this consultative process, especially during this crucial transition period for the BARMM.
Dominguez and BARMM Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education had signed the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Joint Secretariat of the IGRB as co-chairmen of this intergovernmental body.
The heads of the Joint Secretariat for the national government and BARMM also signed the TOR.
“The autonomous government is an exciting initiative. Many other countries are closely observing the substantial autonomy taking shape in this region, which was once torn by conflict. I am confident there will be sufficient goodwill and a large pool of talent to make this initiative a success,” Dominguez said after the first-ever meeting of the IGRB held at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
Dominguez thanked the BARMM, represented by Iqbal, for its commitment to the success of the IGRB.
“I look forward to further working with you in achieving our shared goal of inclusive growth and development in the BARMM,” Dominguez said.
Under the TOR, the IGRB is mandated to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations between the national government and the BARMM through regular consultation and continuing negotiations in a non-adversarial manner.
Its Joint Secretariat is tasked to prepare and submit the meeting agenda, to document the proceedings of the meeting, to prepare the highlights of the meeting, and to handle all administrative requirements relative to the conduct of the meeting, the TOR states.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was designated as the joint secretariat of the IGRB.
The IGRB shall exhaust all means to resolve issues brought before it, which include the effective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the national programs and projects of the National Government in the BARMM.
The IGRB is also tasked to resolve territorial issues, and issues of devolution and jurisdiction; and the creation of the other intergovernmental relations mechanisms enumerated under the BOL.
Under the TOR, unresolved issues shall be elevated to the President, through the Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Government.
Even before the IGRB held its first meeting here, the Department of Finance (DOF) had already organized a series of dialogues with BARMM officials and formed a technical working group involving other government agencies to assist the officials of the new Bangsamoro government in running their economic agencies and crafting sound policies.
Dominguez also co-chairs with the BARMM Finance Minister the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IFRB), which is designed to address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in the regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the BARMM government.
In his opening remarks at the first meeting of the IGRB, Dominguez said this body is a “major step forward” in realizing a substantial and functional autonomy for a new autonomous Muslim region, in step with President Duterte’s commitment to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
He said that through the IGRB “we hope to achieve informed and constructive discussions aimed at exploring the best plausible solutions to transform points of differences into points of cooperation between the National Government and Bangsamoro Government.”
The IGRB “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,” Dominguez said.
The IGRB was proposed during the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The representatives between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) envisioned the IGRB as the main platform for the national and Bangsamoro governments to discuss key intergovernmental related issues, and jointly come up with solutions to best address these concerns.