Stakeholders glad with passage of BARMM governance code

COTABATO CITY (John Unson, Sept. 29, 2023) — Regional lawmakers approved on Thursday the Bangsamoro Local Governance Code, a product of a tedious three-year cross-section initiative that also involved supportive intellectuals from outside of the autonomous region.

The BLGC was immediately signed into law by the chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Ahod Ebrahim, and the lawyer Pangalian Balindong, who is speaker of BARMM’s 80-member regional parliament.

“The BLGC is a `revolutionary legislation’ because it redefines the relationship between the BARMM and the `political subdivisions’ under it. It has empowered the LGUs as first responders, as service frontliners,” a member of the parliament, the lawyer Suharto Ambolodto, said.

Ebrahim, chairman of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said Thursday the BGLC shall empower local government units in BARMM via decentralization of functions essential to enhancement of basic services for constituent- communities.

There are also provisions in the BLGC addressing political dynasty and monopoly of candidacy for elective posts by powerful traditional clans, two serious issues besetting the autonomous region that condone the employment of private armed groups by big Moro clans to maintain power.

The physician in the BARMM parliament, Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., told reporters he willingly voted, during Thursday’s session, for the approval of the BLGC on third and final reading owing to its clear mention of obligations of the regional government to provide comprehensive health services to the Muslim, Christian and non-Moro indigenous tribes in BARMM.

“That is something so good. Our regional government and the LGUs in BARMM will surely work hard together to achieve that goal,” Sinolinding, who started as a “doctor to the barrio” and had served as regional health secretary of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said.

The BARMM — covering the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato —- replaced the 29-year ARMM in 2019 as a result of 22 years of peace talks between Malacanang and the MILF.

The Maranaw lawyer and accountant Paisalin Tago, transportation and communications minister of BARMM, who is also a member of the parliament, said he was elated with the approval of the BLGC.

He said is certain the BLGC will boost local governance in his province, Lanao del Sur, now bouncing back from the bad effects of armed conflicts in decades past.

“The BGLC is a law for regional application that was painstakingly crafted from inputs from resource persons, representatives from the Moro nobility, from religious leaders and local executives and other sectors in the autonomous region,” Tago said. (JF Unson, in Cotabato City, Sept. 29, 2023)

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