IGRB holds 1st Congress-BARMM Parliament forum

By Ali G. Macabalang

PCBPF: Photo shows key participants in the first Philippine Congress and the Bangsamoro Parliament Forum, namely (from left to right) Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, IGRB Co-Chairs Minister Mohagher Iqbal and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Senate President Migs Zubiri, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, and Senator Loren Legarda, among others. (Photo courtesy of DBM)

COTABATO CITY – The Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB) under the Marcos administration has held a first Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum (PCBPF) to pursue strides for smooth operations of the transitional governance of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The IGRB is a bilateral body tasked to facilitate the full devolution of concerned national agencies’ functions, powers and assets to counterpart entities in the autonomous region as prescribed under R.A. 11054, known the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, sitting as IGRB co-chairpersons for the government and the MILF-led parliamentary bureaucracy, respectively, presided over the forum on Tuesday, November 15 at the Sofitel hotel in Pasay City.

In her opening message, Sec. Pangandaman, who took over from Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez III as IGRB co-chair under the Duterte government, echoed the commitment of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for “utmost” support to lasting peace, inclusive growth, and unity in the southern Philippines, particularly in the autonomous region.

“This is why on our end, following the President’s agenda for prosperity, we will do all that we can and endeavor to convene all mechanisms to support the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and ensure the success of BARMM,” Sec. Pangandaman told the forum.

BTA is the BARMM interim legislature mandated to enact basic laws in the autonomous region, seven of which are deemed priorities such as the regional codes on education, administrative, civil service, electoral, local government, revenue, and indigenous people’s concerns. It has already enacted the education, administrative and civil service codes.

Tuesday’s forum was held by the IGRB to “discuss (the remaining) key legislative measures” for BARMM, namely the electoral, local government, revenue, and Indigenous Peoples (IP) codes, among other important legislative agenda, the DBM statement said.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez led their respective chambers to renew congressional backing to BARMM’s related concerns and acknowledge the essence of legislation already passed by the BTA.

IGRB Co-Chair Iqbal, joined by BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Muirad” Ebrahim, other BTA members, and regional officials, batted for an extension in the period for amnesty application of MILF and MNLF members, clear-cut qualification of Shari’ah circuit court judges, and continued Congress-Bangsamoro parliament rapport.

Officials and participants in Tuesday’s forum agreed to create technical working groups that will study the feasibility of addressing bilateral concerns, it was learned.

The forum was attended by Senators Loren Legarda and Robinhood Padilla, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Joey Salceda, Representatives Rex Gatchalian, Yasser Alonto Balindong, and Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. for Congress; and Chief Minister Ebrahim, BTA Speaker Pangalian Balindong, deputy speakers, and parliament members of the BARMM, the DBM statement said.

Iqbal underscored the need for the PCBPF to chart a blueprint for the BARMM transitional operations, even as Balindong affirmed that the forum “will put into fruition the many initiatives endeavored to be put into motion.”

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. delivered the closing remarks, expressing the belief that the forum “will be the beginning of a strong, inclusive, and productive partnership between the Philippine Congress and the Bangsamoro Parliament in uplifting the lives of our Bangsamoro people.” (AGM)

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