Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the first meeting of an intergovernmental body tasked to build on points of cooperation between the national and Bangsamoro governments 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.
Dominguez and other key Cabinet officials, along with representatives of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) led by Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education, met in Davao City last December 16 to thresh out the terms of reference (TOR) of the newly formed National Government-Bangsamoro Government Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) and other concerns related to the new Bangsamoro region.
Dominguez said the creation of the IGRB is a historic initiative that is closely observed by concerned countries across the globe as he expressed confidence “that there is enough reserve of goodwill” among the two sides to ensure the success of the body.
“Through this Intergovernmental Relations Body, 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,” Dominguez said in his opening remarks at the meeting held at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
The IGRB is co-chaired by Secretary Dominguez and Minister Iqbal.
Dominguez said 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.”
He said the IGRB provides an institutional mechanism for sustained cooperation and coordination between the agencies established by the BARMM and those of the National Government.
The IGRB is mandated to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultations and continuing non-adversarial negotiations, Dominguez said.
It also allows a mechanism for benchmarking the standards of good governance for all government agencies and BARMM ministries, he added.
“This is a major step forward in realizing the substantial and functional autonomy envisioned in the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Dominguez said. “The establishment of this Body underscores the commitment of President Rodrigo Duterte to the achievement of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.”
Dominguez thanked the BARMM, represented by Iqbal, for its commitment to the success of the IGRB mechanism.
“I am confident that we will be able to thresh out the protocols and procedures as we go along. What is important is that we commence with the work of this vital institutional mechanism as well as move forward with the consolidation of all the institutions of regional autonomy,” 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 envisioned the IGRB to be 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.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was designated as the joint secretariat of the IGRB.
Representing the national government in the IGRB are Dominguez, as co-chairman; Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr.; Secretaries Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority, Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense, Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy, William Dar of the Department of Agriculture, Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation; and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
The BARMM is represented in the IGRB by Iqbal as co-chair, Bangsamoro Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong, Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Asnin Pendatun; and Ministers Naguib Sinarimbo of the Ministry of Local Government, Eduard Guerra of the Ministry of Public Works, Raissa Jajurie of the Ministry of Social Services, Mohammad Yacob of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform, Dickson Hermoso of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; and a representative of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy.