Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim’s on his 11th Chief Minister’s Hour in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament
22 September 2021
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.
To the Wali of the Bangsamoro: Shiek Khalifa Nando, Parliament Speaker: Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong, colleagues in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament, members of the Cabinet, friends and partners for peace and development, ladies, and gentlemen, my fellow Bangsamoro:
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmahtullahi Taala WaBarakatuh.
I am pleased to join everyone for the 11th Chief Minister’s Hour. With a grateful heart, I join you this afternoon with several accomplishments that are truly beneficial for the Bangsamoro.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bangsamoro Government though the Ministry of Health remains undaunted in our fight against COVID-19.
Despite the looming threat of the Delta variant, the BARMM remains to be a low-risk area for COVID-19.
The MOH – BARMM, just last week, provided a total of 400 oxygen tanks to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center and the Amai Pakpak Medical Center – both of which are COVID-19 referral hospitals.
As of September 21, our Health Ministry has already administered 425, 999 vaccinations against COVID-19.With 255, 604 fully vaccinated or soon to be considered to be as such.
Mr. Speaker, that might sound a lot but we need more people to get vaccinated and I once again reiterate our request to our dear colleagues in this chamber – let’s help our frontline healthcare workers by inviting more people to take the jab and help BARMM reach the herd immunity that we unspeakably need.
We remain grateful to our Bangsamoro health warriors for making sure that our people are safe and that our region is protected from this global virus.
Of course, the Government of the Day understands that the socioeconomic threats of COVID-19 are widely affecting the lives of our people.
This is also why the Ministry of Social Services and Development, Ministry of Interior and Local Government, our very own Project TABANG and BARMM READiconducted a convergence activity dubbed as “Ayuda mulasa Bangsamoro Government.”
We sent out 2,500 food packs and 10,000 hygiene kits to select communities in Lanao del Sur in response of its Provincial IATF Resolution Prohibiting Non Essential Movement On Sundays and Mass Gatherings for September 4 – 13, 2021 in the Province of Lanao del Sur.”
Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to share that the Ministry of Labor and Employment has consistently provided opportunities for our young tertiary graduates all over the region.
Just recently, MOLE-BARMM has been distributing the stipends of its Government Internship Program (GIP) beneficiaries. In Tawi-Tawi, 149 beneficiaries received their stipends last August 29. In Cotabato City, around 145 beneficiaries received theirs last month. Similar programs were also conducted in other provinces in the BARMM region.
I hope that our ministries can help out in providing opportunities to our fresh graduates and pave the way for the future of the Bangsamoro.
Meanwhile, I am also happy to report to the august body that the Provincial Government of Sulu has officially received three desalination machines.
The Island municipalities of Hadji Panglima Tabil, Pandamiand Pata are the recipients of the said machines which have an output capacity of 22,000 liters of water per day and can operate 8-10 hours. Each of machines costs Php 20 Million.
These are the first among the 10 sets of machines which will be distributed to other areas in Sulu and in the Province of Tawi-Tawi. This is the Government of the Day’s intervention to address the scarcity of safe drinking water in our island provinces.
It’s important to take note that this concern was brought up during the first Mushawarah forum in the BARMM earlier this year. And true to our commitment with the civil society leaders we consulted, we are making this promise a reality.
Colleagues in this sacred chamber, this discourse would not be complete without touching on our efforts to our dear combatants.
Just recently, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform distributed 5,000 fruit-bearing tree seedlings to former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
After all, this entire journey would not be possible without them and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Mr. Speaker, with the recent reopening of classes in various schools all over the region – I am exhilarated to inform everyone about various programs that our Education ministry has been working on recently.
The Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education recently began constructing three-storey dormitory buildings in six state universities and colleges in the BARMM which includes Mindanao State University – Maguindanao in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Mindanao State University – Main Campus in Marawi City, Mindanao State University – Sulu in Jolo, Mindanao State University – Tawi Tawi in Bongao, Basilan State College, and the Cotabato State University here in Cotabato City.
With 132-bed capacity amounting to Php 39.14 Million, these dormitories will feature dining halls, study rooms and conference halls. This is the Bangsamoro Government’s way to introduce innovative solutions to long-standing problems and explore pioneering approaches to elevate the Bangsamoro educational system while appreciating our rich history, culture and traditions.
Later this year, MBHTE will also commence the construction of 22 units of two-story with 10-classroom school buildings for the basic and higher education learners across the region with a total amount of P471.6 million.
We are also happy to share that 3,256 Senior High Students took the recently-conducted Bangsamoro Assistance for Science Education (BASE) Qualifying Examination conducted in various areas all over the BARMM.
The qualifiers, of course, will become BASE scholars and will receive incentives including a monthly cash assistance of Php 8,000 from the Ministry of Science and Technology, In shaa Allah.
This is proof, my dear colleagues, that we have young children who want to achieve a better life and have the merits to do so. It is up to us to support them on whatever capacity and provide their track towards becoming the future of our region.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy and our dear friends from the Department of Agrarian Reform already began exploring the upcoming distribution of government-owned lands or GOLs in Lanao del Sur to qualified beneficiaries.
Pursuant to EO No. 75 Series of 2019 issued by President Duterte, all government offices, including MENRE, are directed to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.
In the discussion held, technical assistance was brought up in surveying the 6,667-hectare idle GOLs, particularly in Camp Keithley in Marawi City, Saguiaran, Piagapo, and Marantao.
Colleagues in this august body, in our quest to restabilize our regional economy, the regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments has been working day in and day out to bring in new investors and provide more opportunities to the everyday Bangsamoro.
Capacity programs for our farmers based in the highlands were conducted to guide them in finding markets for their crops and to link them on the programs and services of both government and non-government agencies to decide on either starting their new farm investments or to level-up their routine farming crops to generate more income.
The Board of Investments also approved a Php 398-Million tourism-related investment in Cotabato City. This is in addition to the Php 2 Billion worth of investments from the Al-Muzafar Agriventures, Incorporated (AMAVI) on Cavendish banana plantation in the Province of Maguindanao.
Mr. Speaker, exploratory projects on Banana investments in the Special Geographic Areas in North Cotabato have also started rolling in BBOI’s pipelines.
It is also worth mentioning that for the first time, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) received recognition for its most competitive local government units (LGUs) in the region during the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) Summit held on September 3, 2021.
CMCI is an annual ranking of cities and municipalities, and is a program that encourages LGUs to gather and submit data that measure their performance in core and convergent pillars of Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure, and Resiliency. The DTI added Innovation as a new pillar for the competitiveness index.
The awarding was conferred by the DTI through its Competitiveness Bureau and in partnership with the BARMM’s Ministry of Trade, Investments and Tourism (MTIT).
To help revive the poultry industry which has also been severely affected by the pandemic, the MTIT through its Bureau of Investments (BOI) organized a Poultry Industry Investment Forum and Business Matching to provide investment information, capability and opportunities to those who are interested to venture into poultry business.
The MTIT also convened the Presidents of the Provincial Chambers of Commerce in BARMM including Special Geographic Areas (SGA) for the Organization of the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) held on September 20, 2021. This will certainly strengthen the public and private sector engagement.
Most of these accomplishments, ladies and gentlemen, would not be possible without the support of you, my dear colleagues.
Through our respective Transitional Development Impact Fund or TDIF, we have managed to provide programs and projects that address the exact needs of the constituencies you represent.
Whether it’s infrastructure, healthcare equipment or livelihood programs – the TDIF has been responsive to the ever-diverse demands of the Bangsamoro.
What makes these efforts even more unique is the extent of its reach; from the five provinces, the City of Cotabato and the SGA Barangays in North Cotabato, TDIF programs have also reached Bangsamoro communities outside the core territory; making this government more inclusive and gets to serve more Bangsamoro communities every day.
And for that, my dear MPs, we thank you.
Let me also share to this august body that our Intergovernmental Relations Body has been working hand-in-hand to resolve issues that concern both governments; specifically those that necessitate coordination and cooperation to ensure mutual respect and recognition of each other’s powers and authorities.
Last Monday, September 20, our colleagues from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Ministry of Public Works have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement and Interim Implementation Arrangement or Protocols of Various Infrastructure Projects of the National Government in the BARMM. This is still, of course, pursuant to the BOL’s Article XIII, Section 37 – a preview of how this relationship would work and how we can smoothly deliver timely projects for our people and a sneak peak of what the Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board does.
There is also significant progress with the discussions on the operationalization of the BOL provisions on the Bangsamoro policing.
A technical working group (TWG) on Cabatanganproperties has also already convened twice to thresh out and deliberate details of its Terms of Reference.
In a meeting, ladies and gentlemen, the IGRB also discussed how the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) can be repurposed to ensure that there is Bangsamoro participation in the said agency.
We are also delighted to inform that the call for nominations of the sectoral representations in the Council of Leaders is also in the pipeline. Pursuant to Article VI, Section 9 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the BARMM shall establish a Council of Leaders that shall advise the Chief Minister on matters of governance in the region. Aside from the elected officials, the said council shall also have representatives of traditional leaders, non-Moro indigenous communities, Bangsamoro communities outside the BARMM and other sectors that the Government of the Day may deem necessary. This platform enables us to have more inclusive programs and a take on the different dimensions of our region.
With the creation of new offices in the BARMM, such as the Bangsamoro Pilgrimage Authority, the IGRB has included in its agenda for the 9th IGRB meeting the matter of coordination between the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and the Bangsamoro Pilgrimage Authority involving pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah, among others.
Mr. Speaker, members of this august body, let me end this afternoon’s remarks with probably the most significant topic that we have right now – the proposed extension of the Bangsamoro transition period.
Yesterday, the Bicameral Conference Committee met to iron out the two versions of the of extension bill passed by the House or Representatives and the Senate, respectively. We are happy to note that the meeting was concluded successfully. Alhamdulillah. The House of Representatives ratified the said bicam report and we expect that this too will be ratified in the Senate very soon. Insha Allah
We cannot be more thankful to His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for once again proving that he is truly a son of Mindanao and a Moro by heart.
In the same way, these efforts would not be possible without the help of our allies in the two chambers of Congress.
To Senator Francis Tolentino, Majority Floor Leader Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Vicente Sotto III – thank you for taking a leap of faith with the Bangsamoro. We are forever grateful to you and your colleagues in the Senate for making this process easy and for your shared vision that a progressive Bangsamoro will eventually result into a more progressive Philippines.
To our dear Senators who voted for this measure, we will make sure that your vote will not be forgotten.
And of course, to our Congressman Esmael TotoMangudadatu – thank you for leading the fight in the Lower House. It is through his commitment along with the support of Majority Floor Leader Representative Martin Romualdez and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that the same measure won an overwhelming 187 yes votes with no abstention and no opposition.
This is yet another proof, ladies, and gentlemen, that the rest of the country wants the BARMM to succeed. We cannot let them down; and more importantly we cannot let our people down.
With this issue finally settled, I urge everyone – those who continue to support the Government of the Day and those who share different opinions: it’s time to move forward and it’s time to bring one agenda clear:
We are Bangsamoro first. Isantabi na ang politika, Bangsamoro muna.
With all these being said, Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind our dear colleagues that we have more work to do.
We have more issues that bind us as one people. We have a shared history that we can never refute. We are one in DNA, in spirit and in aspirations.
I hope that the success of this measure will bring us towards a stronger BARMM – where everyone has space and has a say to its future. This is ours to take care of.
With the Grace of the Almighty Allah, everything will be okay. Insha Allah
The extended transition period does not mean that we will be complacent to our work. Instead, we should double time to assure more programs, projects and policies come into light. This is arguably the most crucial stage of our journey to peace and development in our homeland.
In the Noble Qur’an, the Almighty Allah said:
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem:
Wa Tawwakal Alaa-llah Wa Kafaa Billahi Wa Kiilaa
And rely upon Allah; and sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.
Surah Al-Ahzab, Verse 3.
In this prose, we find ease that so long as we put our trust in the Almighty, our work for the Bangsamoro will be under His guidance.
Wa billahi tawfiq wal hidaaya.
Wassalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmahtullahi Taala WaBarakatuh.
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