COTABATO CITY—The six-year stint of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines has come to an end as he departed the Malacañan Palace on Thursday noon, June 30, 2022.
Change for the Bangsamoro
‘Change is coming’—Many Filipinos, including the Bangsamoro people, rooted for this promise to bring about change and development in the country since he took office in 2016.
For the Bangsamoro, the “change” that they have longed for has been gradually realized when President Duterte finally signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), a legislation that is believed to bring peace in Mindanao.
After the law was signed and ratified, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was inaugurated. Since then, development projects for the region snowballed.
For the last time, to honor his significant contributions to the peace and order in the region, the Bangsamoro Government highlighted in a short segment of PASADA7 on Thursday night some of the region’s significant strides under BOL—a Duterte administration legacy.
“We came out with a feature story on Duterte’s legacy because it is very important that we acknowledge the President’s contributions to the Government of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) peace process. One of President Duterte’s biggest contributions is that he used his political capital to enact the BOL or Republic Act 11054,” Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) Executive Director Ameen Andrew Alonto said.
“It is important for our constituents and future generations to know and recognize President Duterte’s contributions in the creation of BARMM and BOL; also, this is part of our history,” he added.
Under the Duterte administration and with the establishment of BARMM, economic growth, job opportunities, reforms, programs, and projects have been implemented and continued to be promoted in the education, health, and social services sectors.
BARMM breakthroughs under Duterte admin
One of the evident developments in the region can be seen in its education sector. The Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) has conducted innovative programs in five provinces, cities and Special Geographic Area (SGA) of BARMM to uplift high-quality education throughout the Bangsamoro region.
Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal said, “I’m sure about it, na isa sa pinakamalaking legacy ni President Duterte ay ang BOL ng BARMM.”
“Dahil dito ay nagkaroon tayo ng isang malawakang kapayapaan sa Mindanao na kung saan naging daan upang umangat ang ekonomiya ng Bangsamoro region,” said Iqbal who also chairs the MILF.
“Sa pamamagitan ng BOL, maisasakatuparan ng Bangsamoro Government ang mga hangarin nito para mga mamamayan ng Bangsamoro at mas higit pa nitong binigyang prayoridad ang edukasyon at iba pang reporma,” he added.
Other agencies such as the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) have been mandated to provide various scholarship programs to poor and deserving students inside and outside of the Bangsamoro region.
Meanwhile, as a result of the success of the peace process in this part of Mindanao, up to eleven thousand members of MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) took the National Police Commission (Napolcom) special qualifying eligibility examination that will pave the way for their entry into the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Better infrastructure, a prosperous economy, and continuous progress for the country are also some of the development priorities of President Duterte in the last six years which benefited the Bangsamoro land as well.
The regional government highlighted the medical service flagship programs which benefited indigent patients who are financially hard up to pay their hospital bills through its Ayudang Medikal Mula Sa Bangsamoro Government (AMBaG). Similarly, several Bangsamoro families are now enjoying their core shelters with solar lights under KAPYANAN or the Kapayapaan sa Pamayanan. The two aforementioned programs are special programs of the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM).
Since the inception of BARMM, many opportunities were opened under the Duterte administration. Infrastructures such as roads, buildings, markets, and bridges gradually improved the linkages, livelihood, and socio-economic activities in the fledgling region.
The regional government is also working hand-in-hand with the national government to rehabilitate the Marawi City and assist the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after the 2017 siege through the Marawi Rehabilitation Program (MRP).
By virtue of Administrative Order No. 3 issued by the President himself on June 28, 2017, the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), an inter-agency task force was organized to oversee rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction efforts intended primarily for the beleaguered city.
Additionally, an implementation of the Islamic finance ecosystem is being studied, as this will practically strengthen economic activities not only in the Bangsamoro region but throughout the country.
According to the Philippines Statistical Authority (PSA-BARMM), the region’s gross regional domestic expenditure spiraled up by 93.9 percent from 50.1 percent in 2020-2021, making BARMM the second fastest-growing region in the country.
For BARMM’s aquaculture sector, the region records as the highest fisheries-producing region in the country, according to a survey conducted by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA).
Many Bangsamoro farmers have also benefited from the certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) distributed by President Duterte. Because of this, farmers gain more access to their own land which helps improve quality of living through greater productivity of their agricultural lands.
With the passage of BOL under the Duterte administration, cooperation between the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the BARMM continues to spur more economic growth in the region.
Recently, Philippine Airlines, in partnership with the Bangsamoro Government, launched its first direct flight from Cotabato to Tawi-Tawi and vice versa—a breakthrough in the region’s tourism sector, which is expected to help boost the regional economy.
These significant milestones in the Bangsamoro region will not be possible if it wasn’t for President Duterte’s strong political will of ending the decades-long struggle of the Bangsamoro people—a political will that served as fuel for the Bangsamoro Government in bolstering peace and development in the region.
Peace in the Bangsamoro have already come a long way. With this, the Bangsamoro will forever be grateful that once upon a time, a Mindanaoan president has put his best effort in helping his fellow countrymen obtain their right to self-determination. Indeed, it was the ‘change’ that the Bangsamoro people have long been questing for.
“At the end of the day, this will benefit the Bangsamoro. Hopefully, with the entry of the new administration [that would change the Duterte administration], they will continue where President Duterte left off. We don’t want to waste what we’ve started because we’ve already come this far,” Alonto remarked. (Aisah Abas/Johaira Sahidala/BIO)