COTABATO CITY —The twenty two-member Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration met for the first time on Dec. 1 in Davao City to strengthen the relationship and policies between the national government and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Top officials from the national government were headed by Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, while BARMM officials were headed by Member of the Parliament and Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal — both are co-chairs of the IGRB.
Being an institutional mechanism created under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), IGRB enhances the cooperation, increases coordination, and greater convergence between BARMM and the National government, and serves as an integral part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
On the said meeting, Special Assistant to the President Sec. Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Jr. affirmed full support of the Marcos administration
“The President is giving full support and his instructions, in particular, to make sure yung mga kailangan para pagalawin lahat, whatever is needed by BARMM, we tried to give it altogether,” Lagdameo said.
“Rest assured, we are backing up everyone here. We are here to assist and we are here to help,” he added.
In retrospect, the President has been very vocal in supporting the gains of the peace process in the region. During the inaugural session of the Bangsamoro Parliament in August this year where he personally attended, he signified his full support.
“As your President, I assure you, the BTA and all the Bangsamoro people, of this administration’s full and unwavering commitment to the peace process and to the BARMM,” the head of the state said four months ago.
As he responded to “how is the IGRB helpful in nation building” during the press briefing broadcasted on the official Facebook account of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), Interior and Local Government Secretary Atty Benjamin Abalos Jr. said that IGRB could be a key.
“Ito ang susi, hindi lang ito iuunlad ng BARMM-autonomiya [ng BARMM] kung di [pati na rin] ang buong bansa, lahat tayo. It will [harmonize]… the diversity, harmony, and unity of the Filipino nation,” Abalos said.
The IGRB members are, for the government: Special Assistant to the President Sec. Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Jr., Finance Sec. Benjamin F. Diokno, Interior and Local Government Sec. Benhur C. Abalos, Jr., Defense Sec. Jose C. Faustino, Jr., Public Works and Highways Sec. Manuel M. Bonoan, Energy Sec. Raphael P.M. Lotilla, Agriculture Senior Usec Domingo F. Panganiban, Transportation Sec. Jaime J. Bautista, Economic and Development Authority Sec. Arsenio M. Balisacan, and OPAPRU Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.
For the BARMM, the members are: Speaker of the Bangsamoro Parliament MP Ali Pangalian M. Balindong, Senior Minister MP Abdulraof A. Macacua, Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin K. Pendatun, Finance, Budget and Management Minister Ubaida C. Pacasem, Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo, Social Services Minister Raissa H. Jajurie, Public Works Minister Eduard U. Guerra, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform Minister Mohammad S. Yacob, Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Minister Akmad A. Brahim, and Transportation and Communications Minister Paisalin C. Tago. (Abdullah Matucan/BIO, with reports from OPAPRU)