BARMM Officials, advocates urge Pres. Duterte to form Inter-Governmental Relations body

MANILA, Philippines – Bangsamoro officials and advocates called on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately form the intergovernmental relations body (IGR) deemed as "indispensable" to the success of the new Bangsamoro region, a Rappler report said on October 1.

The IGR is mandated by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to "coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultation and continuing negotiation in a non-adversarial manner." 

BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim has already informed Malacañang of BARMM's 7 representatives to the IGR, to be led by Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.

But Duterte is yet to name the central government's representatives to the body.

To create the IGR, Duterte has to issue an executive order, but so far no document has been released by the Palace.

Meanwhile, Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) spokesman Undersecretary Wilben Mayor told Rappler that their office has recommended Cabinet members to be part of the IGR.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana are among the suggested IGR members, said Mayor, Rappler said in its report.

In a forum on Tuesday, October 1, organized by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, Bangsamoro advocates, BOL experts, and Bangsamoro officials were one in calling for the immediate formation of the IGR. 

Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto, a member of the now-defunct Bangsamoro Transition Commission(BTC) then under the chairmanship of MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal, and peace panel negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said that the IGR has to be established, the sooner, the better as it is "indispensable" in preventing a "collision course" between the BARMM and the central government, he said.

Without an IGR to define the parameters of the relationship between the BARMM and the central government, the new region would encounter much confusion in implementing the most basic of its functions.

Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) member Don Mustapha Loong, who agrees with the urgent need for an IGR, said the absence of an IGR has already led to confusion.

Without an IGR, Alonto warned that Bangsamoro officials would again be "reduced to mendicancy," depending on Malacañang for additional funding, even with the provision of a block grant, or having to seek clearance from the Department of Foreign Affairs before accepting international aid, even during calamities.

"Rather than concentrating on building new robust institutions that are catalysts for change during the transition period, Bangsamoro officials will be preoccupied with these digressions," said Alonto.

"We see that the IGR is really a facility that will hasten things with the national government and Bangsamoro government. This body should have been created even before," he said.

Alonto ended his speech with an appeal to Duterte, the country's first Mindanaoan president.

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he ran for the presidency, carrying this hope-inspiring slogan: 'Change has come.' So let it come. We are waiting." (Source: Rappler)