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Downshift of BARMM political, fiscal powers rushed

The Intergovernmental Relations Body of the national and Bangsamoro governments convened anew for the fifth time on November 27, less than seven weeks after their last meeting, to speed up the resolution of issues on the devolution of powers and functions to the new autonomous region in Mindanao and ensure a smooth transition for its Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III said the increasing frequency of the IGRB’s meetings underscores the importance that President Duterte has placed on ensuring the success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Although we were asked to convene at 90-day intervals, this hardworking group has actually been meeting more frequently. This is testimony to our shared passion and determination to fast-track the Bangsamoro Organic Law’s implementation and quickly resolve urgent concerns between our parties,” Dominguez said during the virtual meeting held via Zoom.

He said that aside from convening more frequently, the members of the technical working groups in the IGRB have also been holding regular meetings to thresh out in detail the issues raised before the body.

“We are in constant touch with each other so that urgent issues can be addressed with dispatch,” he said.

Co-chaired by Dominguez and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, the body has met three times in the last three months.

The IGRB agreed to meet again by the third week of December to discuss a proposed strategic communications plan to provide stakeholders and the international community with updates on the gains, benefits, and accomplishments of the BOL.

Iqbal said the complex issues discussed by the IGRB since it first convened in December last year has made the body more than a problem-solving mechanism, but also a forum for synergistic interaction between the national and BARMM governments.

Among the concerns discussed by the IGRB during the fifth meeting were the formulation of mechanisms pertaining to the transfer of assets and properties to the BARMM; a proposed strategic communications plan on the gains, benefits, and accomplishments of the BOL; and the identification of nationally funded programs that can be devolved to or implemented by the BARMM.

Aside from the Finance chief, also present at the 5th meeting of the IGRB were Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año and Undersecretary David Diciano, who chairs the Government Peace Implementing Panel and heads the Joint Normalization Division, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Also at the meeting were Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Transportation OIC-Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr., Agriculture Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, and representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Energy, and the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat.

The BARMM was represented in the meeting by Iqbal, Executive Secretary and Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Abdulraof Macacua; Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo; Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra; Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform Minister Mohammad Yacob; Transportation and Communications Minister Dickson Hermoso; and Health OIC-Minister Amirel Usman.

Also at the meeting were resource persons from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Maritime Industry Authority, and the National Police.