By Noel Punzalan
COTABATO CITY: Local government units (LGUs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) gathered here Friday to deliberate on the plans laid out by each LGU for its inclusion in the region’s priority Projects Program Activities (PPAs) for the fiscal year 2022.
“I am optimistic that we can bridge our programs, projects, and activities that are genuinely responsive to the needs of our people,” BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim said in his speech for the first-ever Bangsamoro Governance Summit at the BARMM center.
In pursuit of upholding moral governance, he said the transition period provides the Bangsamoro the opportunity to build the foundations that would address development challenges.
“I am proud to say that we have done significant strides in laying the groundwork needed for the attraction and infusion of capital – such as stable environment, infrastructure, and favorable regulatory schemes – but we still need to do a lot more and we need more time,” Ebrahim said.
“It is with this that a strong partnership between the regional government and the LGUs is of high importance,” he added.
The governance summit was preceded by pre-summit forums in the BARMM province components of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
Supporting the initiative were Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo who represented Senator Christopher “Bong” Go in the event, and also Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri who joined via the zoom conferencing platform.
Go, in his message read by Panelo, said the LGUs play a vital role in such endeavor by ensuring that “our government is seen, heard, and felt by the people.”
“Your success in this undertaking will definitely complement the national agenda to further empower our LGUs to become stronger, more capable, and more resilient,” Go said.
Go reiterated his unwavering support to the BARMM, saying he, together with President Rodrigo Duterte, will continue to extend its full support to the region, as it undertakes endeavors for its constituents.
Zubiri commended the interim government of BARMM for holding the summit despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“I am very happy to see that amid the pandemic, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and our LGUs were able to hold much-needed consultations to identify the needs of our people on projects and programs, both short-term and the long-term,” Zubiri said.
He also announced that the Senate is now in the final stages of passing the Senate Bill (SB) 2214 —the measure seeking to extend the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
“We, in the Senate, are in the final stages of passing the bill postponing the BARMM elections. ‘In Shaa Allah’ (God willing), within a month, we will get it done,” he said.
During the summit, BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua presented the Mandanas ruling which would significantly affect the service delivery of Bangsamoro LGUs to their constituents.
“The impact of Mandanas ruling is another issue that we need to look into and integrate into our local government code,” Macacua told the regional executives.
He said while the ruling provides LGUs with more financial resources, it would also mean that some nationally-funded projects will be devolved to them.
“We can best coordinate, cooperate and collaborate towards the same goal of making lives easier for the Bangsamoro people,” he said.
Philippine News Agency