Interim Chief Minister's speech during the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Inauguration

The Wali of the Bangsamoro Government, Sheik Khalifa Nando
Mr. Speaker
Honorable Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority

We are inaugurating today a government that is founded on the sacrifices of the Bangsamoro. As such, it must be driven by our collective aspirations for the affirmation of our distinct historical identity, and the right to chart our political future through democratic process.

The heavy burden is now upon us to give justice to the centuries-old struggle and sacrifices. In the search for political solutions, autonomy at its varying degrees were tested, from the Office of the Regional Commissioner, Lupon Tagapagpaganap ng Pook, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and now the Bangasamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The past may always be blamed for its shortcomings, but there are also instructive lessons from which we can draw guidance in the present.

For one, it is a person that is held accountable before God and his fellow human beings, and not a system. Our leadership over the BARMM and the BTA is an amanah, a trust given to us and a responsibility for which we have to account for. Let us always be conscious of the day when we shall be asked of how we fulfill the trust and discharge the responsibilities.

Honorable ladies and gentlemen, this is our program of government.

We shall prioritize the approval of the Transition Plan that will define the organizational structure of the BARMM and the gradual phasing out of offices.

The Bangsamoro Development Plan also needs to be passed by this honorable body inorder to commence the rehabilitation and development of conflict-affected communities. The utilization of the Special Development Fund must be in accordance with that Plan.

As provided in the Bangsamoro Organic Law, we shall work for the enactment of priority legislations such as the BARMM Administrative Code, Local Government Code, Electoral Code, Civil Service Code, Education Code, Bangsamoro Tax and Revenue Code and other laws.

I am very much aware, as you are, that an efficient, effective and values-oriented bureaucracy is critical to the implementation and achievement of these developmental goals.

As such, I would establish, as I have already started organizing, a strong cabinet that can respond positively to the clamor of the people for transparent, accountable and responsive governance.

Even as we demand a high quality of public service from the regional government, I would also urge those in the local governments — the governors, city and municipal mayors, and barangay chairmen – to raise the bar in the delivery of effective and efficient services. You are at the forefront of governance. You are the real faces of authority and responsibility that the Bangsamoro can easily identify with.

We shall work closely with you, primarily through the Council of Leaders that has to be organized, and other councils mandated by law.

During the turn-over ceremony of transition documents last February 26, I have mentioned the five pillars of our governance — EDUCATION, HEALTH, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, STRATEGIC INFRASTRUCTURE and MORAL LEADERSHIP.

In almost all the human development indices, the Bangsamoro is still at the bottom when contrasted with the national standards.

I need not belabor you with dismal statistics. For those of us who have spent our lives in rural areas, and even those in semi-urban parts of the Bangsamoro, the ugly faces of ignorance, malnutrition, poverty, the lack of opportunities for growth, and the corruption and mismanagement that compounded these social problem, have to be contended with on a daily basis.

The present state of the region compel us to be more rational in the planning, allocation and distribution of resources, and more importantly in the implementation of programs, projects and activities. We have wonderful plans, but oftentimes ended up in unfinished works. In the evaluation and monitoring, we shall now involve our people in reporting the performance, or the lack thereof, of our regional and local officials.

Access to, quality, relevance and integration of our educational system shall be the primordial task of our education sector. We must sustain efforts for the strengthening of the Madaris education in the region.

But for housekeeping, I am ordering the Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, to finally “bury the ghosts” of the then DepED, if there are still “wandering spirits” in the payroll system.

We shall support the construction of basic social facilities such as school buildings, hospitals, health centers, day care centers and other vital social infrastructures, but the contractors who didn’t finish their projects should be made answerable for their shortcomings, at the very least to be black-listed in future projects of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

We have to set up programs to address the demand for medical services, especially in remote areas of the Bangsamoro.

We must also design programs on livelihood, micro-finance, skills and technology transfer, self-employment assistance, food and cash subsidy for poor and disadvantaged families, low-cost housing, electrification and water projects.

Around 60% of the BARMM population depends on agriculture and fisheries as their source of livelihood. We must then increase investments in agriculture and agrarian reform to support critical areas essential to food production, enhance agricultural productivity, and provide access to capital market.

As we harness further the region’s economic potentials and comparative advantages, such as our natural resources, we will also enhance the protection and conservation of the environment with priority to the watersheds of Lake Lanao, Kabulnan, Malitubog-Maridagao, and the Ligawasan Marsh. Our jurisdiction over the Bangsamoro Waters in the Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf must be enforced.

These thrusts in education, health, and economic development must be complemented with responsive strategic infrastructure in the region such as ports, road network, flood control, and logistics and communication facilities.
We have to ensure a productive partnership between the Bangsamoro Government and development partners as well as the national government to ensure complementation of programs inorder to maximize results.
It would be my policy that the plans, programs and projects of the BARMM, as well as the assistance of local and international partners, must always establish a link towards the normalization process that is also on-going for former combatants and their communities.
But all of these well-crafted plans, oftentimes meticulously done, will not benefit our people if the programs and projects will just be corrupted. I therefore ask you, fellow members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, to exercise your role as fiscalizers. We believe that one of the distinctive features of a parliamentary or ministerial form of government is the ease with which lawmakers can demand for transparency and accountability of the implementers. Let us then show our people that it is as such.

There are of course several other concerns that demand our priority actions, such as the Marawi rehabilitation, as well as the rehabilitation of other areas that also suffered from rigors of war. Security still remains a problem, but we can maximize the utilization of available legitimate forces on the ground and leveraging on the network of the MILF in the Bangsamoro communities.

The success of our government is the best antithesis to violent radicalism being espoused by some Bangsamoro groups. Let us prove them wrong by demonstrating that there is real hope in negotiated political settlement which, in the words of the late MILF Founder and Ameerul Mujahideen Ustadz Salamat Hashim, is the most civilized way of resolving conflict.

We must always remember that whatever we have achieved now is really aimed to solve the political question of the Bangsamoro. The golden opportunity is in our hands. Let us all be one in realizing our aspirations as Bangsamoro for the restoration of our identity and rights, and the power to govern ourselves consistent with our ways of life and culture.

Thank you.

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