COTABATO CITY—A remarkable progress three years since its birth brought the interim Bangsamoro Government into a quantum leap on moral governance, social services, and stable economic growth despite the unforeseen pandemic and tight demands in bureaucracy.
The fledgling regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) this year achieved several major feats and proved to withstand challenges, gaps, and fortuitous events through its leaders and constituency.
Here is a rundown of BARMM’s major breakthroughs in the year 2021.
Lowest poverty incidence
Before 2021 ends, BARMM’s poverty incidence was reported to have significantly shrunk over the past three (3) years—from 55.9 percent in 2018 to 39.4 percent in 2021 – as cited by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
This implies that there is a significant decline in the proportion of poor Bangsamoro constituents whose per capita income is insufficient to meet their basic food and non-food essentials.
Data also shows that the Province of Lanao del Sur is no longer under the cluster of poorest provinces in the country, thereby making it to the least poor provinces category.
It can be noted, too, that in its inception in 2019, BARMM ranked 2nd in terms of Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) and Gross Regional Domestic Expenditure (GRDE) growth rate.
Approval of BTA extension
It was a momentous day for the Bangsamoro when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte officially signed Republic Act No. 11593, which extends the transition period of BARMM from 2022 to 2025, on Oct. 28, 2021.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim extended his warmest gratitude to President Duterte and his administration for making sure that the GPH-MILF Peace Process will be successful.
Ebrahim said that the 3-year extension “was and will never be about power”, and that the Bangsamoro Government’s establishment and triumph are for the whole of Bangsamoro.
The said approval of extension period had prompted the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) to update the Bangsamoro Development Roadmap during the first BARMM Planners Congress last Nov. 4, 2021.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua reiterated the support of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in instituting strong governance and relevant development assistance projects.
Exceeding investment target
The Regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments (RBOI) generated a total of Php2.8-billion worth of investments for 2021, exceeding its Php2.5-billion target for the year.
Included in said investment are the Al Muzafar Agriventure, Inc. with Php950-million worth of investments, ES Maulana Global Ventures Company, Inc. with Php998-million, Eight Z’s Building Property Rental with Php398-million, Lanao del Sur Corn Development Corporation with Php408-million, and Prime Certification and Inspection Asia Pacific, Inc. with Php49-million worth of investments.
Due to the growth of investments this year, the region also recorded a 2,287 increase in employment rate.
The Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT) and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), along with other agencies, conducted investment forum and business matching and Networking Investment for Local Executives (NILE) project and Investments Priorities Plan (IPP) to different provinces.
More infrastructure support for LGUs
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) capacitated and provided infrastructure support facilities to LGUs to enable them to operate and maintain an income-generating local economic enterprise.
With this, MILG spearheaded a series of groundbreaking and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing activities to expedite the construction of the government facilities in the recipient LGUs.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, there are ongoing constructions of four (4) Municipal Police Stations, eight (11) Municipal Hall Buildings, and 220 Barangays Hall Buildings across the region.
Other infra-projects such as Public Market, Sanitary Landfill, and Terminal are about to be fulfilled within a year.
Extending social services and solidarity
The Office of the Chief Minister’s (OCM) Ayudang Medikal Mula sa Bangsamoro Government (AMBaG) has released a total of Php144-million fund which helped 20,399 indigent patients since its launching in November 2019.
Meanwhile, more indigent patients from 11 partner hospitals of BARMM are being assisted by the Bangsamoro Critical Assistance for Indigents in Response to Emergency Situations or the B-CARES Program—one of the flagship programs of the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD).
The ministry’s B-CARES Program covers hospitalization expenses, cost of medicines, and other medical treatments or procedures such as laboratory fees, dialysis, chemotherapy, Computed tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and anti-retroviral therapy.
Apart from providing financial aid to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and sending relief assistance to conflict-affected communities or typhoon/flood-affected residents in the region, the ministry also converged with the MILG, Ministry of Health (MOH), and the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) and extended its services to communities devastated by Typhoon Odette in Dinagat Islands province.
Over ten (10) tons of food and non-food items worth Php13-million were sent to the Dinagat Islands through the “Tulong para sa Dinagat Islands mula sa Bangsamoro Government” launched by Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim.
The relief goods were formally handed over to Gov. Arlene Bag-ao and Mayor Yngwie Hero Ecleo on Sunday, Dec. 26, at the Municipality of San Jose.
Furthermore, the Bangsamoro Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi) under MILG reported last Dec. 9 that around 374, 343 families were given food assistance, 395, 815 received hygiene kits, and transported 169 patients in its ambulance.
Covid-19 status and vaccination campaign
Local transmission and positive cases of Covid-19 dropped to almost nothing over the past weeks.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) just recently joined the 3-day Bayanihan, Bakunahan national Covid-19 vaccination drive.
During the conduct of the Bayanihan, Bakunahan on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, BARMM was recognized as the ‘best region’ to get the highest improvement in the average jab rate, while Tawi-Tawi got the ‘best province’ award.
A total of 1,296,029 doses of vaccine were administered in the region as of Dec. 22, 2021.
The MOH received $500,000 support from UNICEF to augment the operational costs of Covid-19 vaccination coverage in the region.
Moreover, the Covid-19 isolation facilities in each of the five provinces of BARMM were already completed and operational.
BARMM Youth, Educators, and Combatants
The Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC) gains momentum in capacitating the youth sector to cultivate their skills and promote active citizenship by taking up space in their respective community.
Several projects and community interventions were organized by BYC. One of which is the conduct of Bangsamoro Youth Parliament 2021 intended to unify the initiatives of the 76 delegates through a series of discussions during committee and plenary sessions, focused on the development and promotion of youth development policies and programs.
On the other hand, BARMM schools and educators continued to receive Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) materials and equipment from the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), which include digital duplicators, desktop computers, bond papers, teachers’ kits, learners’ materials such as books, charts and flashcards, and manipulative toys.
In the month of December alone, several turnover ceremonies of newly-constructed school buildings projects and facilities were held in the different provinces of BARMM.
As for the former combatants, the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD) continues to expand the construction of housing units for resettlement projects intended for the said former rebels.
Some of the former combatants also received cash assistance and land titles from different programs of BARMM ministries. Recently, on Dec. 28, the MAFAR distributed 295 Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to 351 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) from the provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
Strengthening halal industry development
To fulfill the Ministry of Science and Technology’s (MOST) mandates to strengthen the development of halal industry through testing, analysis, and capacity building, the Ministry procured high-end equipment and state-of-the-art technology worth Php47-million for Halal verification testing upgrade under the Bangsamoro Standards and Halal Testing Laboratories (BSHTL).
The equipment procured were Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry-FID (GC/MS/FID), Gas Chromatography Triple Quadruple Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS/MS), Liquid Chromatography Triple Quadruple Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS), Graphite Furnace-Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (GF-AAS), and RT-PCR.
These equipment are capable of ethanol analysis, gelatin analysis, pesticides residue analysis, minerals in food, heavy metals in food and water, meat authenticity, and porcine DNA detection in meat-based products.
Huge land distributions
On Sept. 6, 2021, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy coordinated with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to plan out the distribution of 6,667 hectares of government land to qualified beneficiaries in Lanao del Sur.
This move is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 75 series of 2019, which directs all concerned government offices to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.
The areas will cover government lands adjacent to Camp Keithley in Marawi City, Saguiaran, Piagapo, and Marantao,
including Mindanao State University, National Power Corp., and the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol.
Approval of 2022 BARMM budget
The Bangsamoro Parliament passed the proposed P79.862-billion 2022 budget of the BARMM on Dec. 28 with a notable 6% increase from the total fund source, amounting to P75.6-billion in 2021.
Members of Parliament approved the Bangsamoro Expenditure Program (BEP) for 2022 on third and final reading with a vote of 59-0-0, and was certified as urgent by Chief Minister Ebrahim.
Accordingly, the operations budget for 2022 will cover “regular activities directly addressing the ministries’ and offices’ mandates, such as purchasing goods and services for day-to-day operations; delivering public services; conducting basic governance; or providing general management and supervision of the entire Bangsamoro Government.”
As the Bangsamoro Government fulfills its mandate in the next three (3) years, the collective pursuit for a just and lasting peace in the homeland continues. (Bangsamoro Information Office)