by Ali G. Macabalang
WITH the impending end of anxiety-filled longing for extended Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan by act of the 18th Congress, stakeholders’ focal attention will shift with more persuasion to the Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB).
The harmonized bill for five related bills seeking to reset the 2022 Bangsamoro Parliament polls and extend the BTA operational period to 2025 was passed by the joint committee of the House of Representatives and submitted to the plenary for second reading deliberation on Thursday, Aug. 26, the office of Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu jubilantly announced on the same day.
The good news followed an equally positive report that the Senate a day earlier (Wednesday, Aug. 25) approved on second reading its counterpart measure, docketed as Bill No. 2214 and authored by Senator Francis Tolentino.
The favorable trend indicated so far the probability for both chambers of Congress to pass their respective bills for harmonization and approval in a bicameral conference before the Oct. 1-8, 2021 filing of candidacies for the May 9, 2022 synchronized elections.
It also signaled the BTA parliament and the interim Bangsamoro autonomous cabinet to have ample and focal time to persuade more vigorously the IGRB into deliberating and carry out solutions to governmental ills, which prompted the past administrations to berate previous autonomous entities as “failed experiment” or “failed autonomy.”
The IGRB is co-chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for the national government, and by Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice Chair and regional Education Minister Mohager Iqbal for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The IGRB holds the key to deliberating and implementing steps needed in fleshing out the mandates of R.A. 11054, the BARMM Charter, and the state’s major peace deals with Moro revolutions fronts, notably the 2014 Bangsamoro Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014.
R.A 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and the CAB prescribes for two major thrusts called Normalization and Political or government Tracks.
The Normalization Track seeks to decommission the MILF’s 40,000 combatants and their guns, and transform them to productive and peaceful life, while the Political Track is envisaged at building a parliamentary governance enjoying broader autonomy desired under the CAB and BOL.
In both tracks, as I look at it, the IGRB plays an imperative role, particularly in the full devolution of powers, resources and functions of national line agencies to the BARMM governance, such as but not limited to the following:
– Creation of a project management office (PMO), which will handle funds for maintenance and improvement of national highways in the area of autonomy;
– Full devolution of authority for the BARMM bureaucracy to register and award franchises to land transport vehicles, and implement or regulate standard fare matrices in specific routes in the area of autonomy;
– Institutionalization of national subsidies to state-run universities and colleges in the autonomous region;
– Establishment of mechanisms for continuance of stunted infrastructure projects, such as irrigation systems being implemented by the National Irrigation Administration in the area of autonomy;
– Creation of mechanism for the mandated national-regional co-management over conservation and development of Lake Lanao for being a hydroelectricity source and associated with local socio-economics and cultures;
– Formation of guidelines for the CAB/BOL-prescribed entry of qualified MILF and Moro National Liberation Front members to the police and military services;
– Stipulation for institutionalized inclusion of BARMM in the national appropriations for the maintenance and/or improvement of nationally-recognized airports and wharves; and
– Other mechanisms that will ensure full-blown regional autonomous authorities warranting the gorging on the prescribed exit-agreement between the MILG and national government. (AGM)