Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim’s Report during the Chief Minister’s Hour on 25 March 2021
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
To the Wali of the Bangsamoro: Shiek Khalifa Nando, Parliament Speaker: Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong, colleagues in the BTA-Parliament, members of the Cabinet, friends and partners for peace and development, ladies, and gentlemen, my fellow Bangsamoro:
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmahtullahi Taala Wa Barakatuh.
A peaceful and healthy afternoon to all of you.
Mr. Speaker, over a year ago, the Bangsamoro Government was compelled to redirect its attention to the threats brought upon by the coronavirus. Our timeline set for the fulfillment of our mandate was drastically affected. Our communities were gripped to its core and we all felt massive consequences that came with the deadly virus.
It was a collective suffering that required collective sacrifice from all of us. The past 365 days were filled with the loss of life and loss of living for all of us. The Bangsamoro, however, is not new to crisis.
And from this crisis, we will rise again, stronger than ever before.
Dear colleagues, it is safe to say that we are on the winning side in the fight against COVID-19. Because of the extraordinary work and sacrifices of our frontline and essential workers, the BARMM remains to have a significant low level of transmission compared to other regions in the country.
As of March 24, 2021: the Ministry of Health has recorded 96 active cases, 3930 recoveries and 158 deaths.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines; which is now around 18,000 composed of AstraZeneca and Sinovac, we are optimistic to further control the spread of the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health reports that of the 3,732 eligible population for hospital healthcare workers, 2,559 or 69% have already received the first shot of their COVID-19 vaccine.
At the top of vaccine priorities are frontline workers and with the Grace of the Almighty Allah, we are looking towards vaccinating at least 70% of the total population in the BARMM to reach the herd immunity.
But this development does not signal complacence. We should remain observant of minimum health protocols and promote participation to the upcoming mass vaccination program.
And when it’s all said and done, perhaps, we can go back to what used to be normal – shaking hands, giving hugs, laughing together and enjoying each other’s physical presence without fear of the virus. In shaa Allah
Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to share with this august body our efforts on building better infrastructure and housing efforts in the BARMM.
Last March 4, the Project Management Office of the Kapayapaan sa Pamayanan (KAPYANAN) conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Php 23 Million worth of 50-unit core shelters in Sitio Tamigin in Barangay Tariken, Sultan Mastura in Maguindanao. We hope that one day, every Bangsamoro will have a home and roof above his head; that every Bangsamoro can find a place that they can truly call their “home.”
Speaking of home, Mr. Speaker, our colleagues in the Ministry of Human Settlement and Development through the Land Dispute Resolution Committee has approved its Implementing Guidelines and Rules of Procedure which can ease the land dispute cases and issues involving private owner. This strengthens our partnership with the Task Force Bangon Marawi for the long overdue rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City specifically the Most Affected Area.
In addition, farmers in Butig, Lanao del Sur are expected to benefit from the Php10-Million Solar Power Irrigation System (SPIS)—a partnership project of Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM).
Subsidized under Bangon Marawi Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation Project Fund of 2020, the SPIS will increase rice production at 40 hectares of rainfed rice areas in the villages of Cabasaran, Dulangan, and Sundig in Butig.
To assure that the implementation of Bangsamoro Government’s various infrastructure programs in Lanao del Sur for this year remain aligned, we have signed a Memoranda of Agreements (MOA) with the provincial government and local chief executives last March 21.
Ladies and gentlemen, last March 15, the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government led the joint ground-breaking ceremony of concreting a sixty-three (63) kilometer road network designed to provide transport connectivity of our 63 barangays in North Cotabato. With the allotment of Php1.8 billion for infra projects in these towns, we are optimistic that we can bring them closer together through the said initiative, In shaa Allah.
But perhaps what makes the first quarter of this year extra special is the approval of the Bangsamoro Civil Service Code. With 2 out of 6, we are keeping with the timeline of passing the priority legislations in this esteemed Parliament.
Its passage not only signals our welcome to our dear Mujahideens, the proper nod and acknowledgement to our Shariah Counselor and the regularization of our Asatiz, but most importantly, established a standard for this new bureaucracy – emanating from meritocracy and adhering to Moral Governance. Alhamdulillah.
We are getting closer, ladies and gentlemen. We are confident that we can complete the six codes not just for compliance but Codes that are responsive to the need of the everyday Bangsamoro – engraved with our collective experiences and the long history of the Bangsamoro struggle.
This month is also the commemoration of the National Women’s Month. I am taking this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, ladies, and gentlemen, to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of women to the Bangsamoro cause. I, for one, truly believe that we need more women in this bureaucracy and in the overall work of changing the Bangsamoro to its core.
I hope that we can start a new culture that honors the contribution of women to our communities – providing them with career-advancing opportunities at every single level, that women are supported on whatever paths they choose, and acknowledge that they are integral to the very fiber of the Bangsamoro.
Mr. Speaker, we are proud to commemorate the National Women’s Month and we will make sure to push through with policies and programs that manifest such commemoration.
Moving forward, let me also speak about the first Bangsamoro History Month.
March has witnessed some of the most historic pieces of our shared history and through Proclamation No. 001, we deem it proper to recognize these chapters – all of which are essential to where we are right now.
This month we remember our dear brethren who perished in the hands of oppression – around 600 Moros were victimized on what we now know as the Bud Dajo Massacre. This gruesome chapter tells a lot about our long history of resisting tyranny.
We also remember the gallantry of our ancestors who signified one of the earliest calls to independence known as the Dansalan Declaration – proof that our journey towards our right to self-determination is always a work in progress.
It was also on March 21, 2000 when the Moro Islamic Liberation Front faced one of its most difficult challenges in recent memory: the declaration of the All-Out War – a reflection of pain, destruction, displacement and loss of lives. We are reminded that we cannot let this happen ever again – not now, never.
We are also commemorating the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on its 7th year. CAB – being the hallmark of the Bangsamoro Organic Law is essential in completing the peace process; for it is with its compliance that we can fairly say that the BARMM is successful.
Ladies and gentlemen, this month also witnessed one of the most devastating chapters in Bangsamoro history: the killing of young Moro men in Corregidor Island.
Famously known as the “Jabidah Massacre,” March 18 is remembered as the spark of our unified consciousness towards self-governance and fighting oppression against the Bangsamoro. We remember and we will honor our dear brethren through our work in these halls.
For we owe it to the martyrs, to those who are no longer with us and to those who will follow.
Members of this esteemed chamber, we cannot afford another Jabidah Massacre – we must do everything in our hands to build a bureaucracy that honors our dignity as a people and prioritizes our human rights.
This is also one of the reasons why our colleagues in the Ministry of Public Order and Safety conducted the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Forum to remind us of its essential role during this transition period especially in fulfilling the normalization track.
My dear brothers and sisters, by remembering Jabidah, Bud Dajo and the All Out War – we can comply with the heart of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and our mandate as the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
And of course, it has been two years since the Bangsamoro Transition Authority conducted its inaugural session right here. Two years since we began this journey and I am confident that our work has laid the foundation of a better Bangsamoro and a bureaucracy that we can all be proud of.
For the past few weeks and on top of our continuing effort to fulfill our mandate in the transition government through the implementation of flagship programs and enactment of legislations, the talk of the town in the region is the need to extend the transition period. Mr. Speaker, my dear colleagues, allow me to take this opportunity to update this august body of what we have done towards this end.
Following our productive meeting with the President last November 23, 2020, we have done various meetings, consultations, and dialogues geared towards promoting understanding, ownership, and support to the call for the extension of the transition period.
We conducted a roundtable discussion with the House of Representatives to shed light on issues, nuances, and the rationale behind the proposed bills extending the transition period. Various consultations with our local stakeholders and constituents were likewise conducted to make sure that the voices in the grassroots are also genuinely considered.
We are fully aware that the extension requires amendments to RA 11054, hence an act of Congress is imperative. As such, we have met the leadership of both houses of Congress and some key legislators. We also have continuing engagements with key Cabinet Officials and partners in the security sector.
Our local government units in the region and nearby areas have likewise expressed their support through official resolutions. The provincial government of Tawi-Tawi, Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, as well as the province of Cotabato, and Lanao Del Norte through its provincial peace and order council.
We are likewise delighted to receive overwhelming support from various local CSOs and key personalities such as Cardinal Orlando Quevedo who once again showed his deep understanding of how to achieve lasting peace and development in Mindanao. Such overwhelming support were further manifested through the successful peace caravans done throughout the autonomous region that were participated by thousands of vehicles.
Mr. Speaker, some of our supporters also launched the online signature campaign few months ago and we are happy to receive the report that last week March 18, the more than one (1) million signatures have been officially submitted to the Office of the President.
These activities only signify support from various sectors and levels in our society. It further validates that the call for extending the transition period is shared by our people who want to sustain the gains of the peace process. They are with us in acknowledging that there are still crucial provisions of the BOL that are not yet fully implemented. That there are still many aspects of the normalization process that are not yet delivered. That the redirection of priorities forced by COVID 19 and the complexities of the transition period seriously hampered our work in the BTA. That when all things considered, there is really a need to extend the transition period.
It must also be recalled that this august body adopted a resolution last November 17, 2020 Resolution No. 332 urging the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines to extend the Bangsamoro transition period from year 2022 to 2025. This strong signal to pursue the extension of the transition period actually further triggered our official engagements mentioned earlier and consistent with this resolution, I encourage my esteemed colleagues to speak as one with regard to this very important issue.
Admittedly, we still have to iron out some issues regarding the proposed bills and we have been doing continuous dialogues with those few who have minor reservations. In addition, the BARMM leadership, governors, Speaker of the House and the Senate President, recently met with President Duterte and some of his Cabinet officials to discuss the ways forward. We are very optimistic that the collective wisdom of the President and Congress will gear towards the complete realization of the most important legacy of this administration – the implementation of the peace agreement and consequent peace in Mindanao, as well as the transformation of the Bangsamoro region.
Mr. Speaker, the Bangsamoro struggle was never about getting lucrative positions in the government. Modesty aside, we could have run for politics long before and probably won in many areas. We could have stayed comfortably within the confines of a public office during our younger years instead of spending days and nights in the jungle and in the battlefield for the struggle. But then again, this was never our intent. The struggle is and will always be for Allah (SWT) and for the people.
The call for extension of the transition period is a call for peace. It is for the continuation of our collective pursuit for a just and lasting peace in our homeland.
Thank you and Wassalam.