Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim’s Report to the Bangsamoro
Delivered via: Zoom on January 21, 2021
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
To the Wali of the Bangsamoro, Shiek Khalifa Nando, esteemed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament, colleagues in the Bangsamoro Regional Cabinet, fellow workers and stakeholders for peace and development, ladies, and gentlemen, my fellow Bangsamoro:
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmahtullahi Taala Wa Barakatuh.
My warmest greetings of peace to all of you.
Two years ago, the Bangsamoro people decided to ratify a legislation that will ultimately change the direction of their future and honor our struggle towards self-determination. January 21 will always be remembered as the date of our commitment to pursue lasting peace and development in our homeland.
It is, therefore, proper to recognize this date as the official Bangsamoro Foundation Day – to commemorate our humble victories as a people, remember those who sacrificed for our cause and look forward to a future that we can proudly call as ours.
To set the course right, the BTA swore our moral oath inside this very hall as a symbol of our commitment to redefine the future. We began building the foundations of moral governance for a better Bangsamoro.
I am honored to share with you today the State of the Transition Period – the wins and the challenges, and the things that await us in the future, In shaa Allah.
Ladies and Gentlemen, This is the Chief Minister’s Report to the Bangsamoro.
Article XVI of RA 11054 provides our functions and priorities in the BTA during the transition period. These can be construed as the minimum expected accomplishments of the interim government.
The first deliverable, creating the Bangsamoro Transition Plan, is the guiding document that lights our path all throughout the year. Approved on June 17, 2019, we are proud that the transition plan reflects our shared direction as a new government.
A specific portion of that plan is centered in crafting priority codes that will serve as the foundation of the Bangsamoro Government. I know some of our constituents have been patiently waiting for the enactment of these key legislations but just like the Bangsamoro Organic Law, we must acknowledge that we cannot submit half-baked bills for the sake of compliance.
The BTA is mandated to make sure that these legislations are responsive, practical, and inclusive of all sectors relative to the respective intents of the various codes.
The Administrative Code, which was approved last October 28, 2020, defines the very structure, the relationships, and systems of our bureaucracy. Its passage signals the regional government’s preparedness to cater the services of its people based on the various mandates given to the different ministries, offices and local agencies.
It is also worth noting that the approval of the Bangsamoro Administrative Code poses our uniqueness as a region and as a government – standing proud as a Parliamentary bureaucracy inside a unitary State.
Proud, unique, and responsive – these are the simple words we can use to describe our approved regional structure.
The other priority codes are not that far from its passage as well.
To my dear colleagues in the BTA, I encourage you that we boost the same passion and energy to the rest of the priority codes just like what we did during the passage of the Bangsamoro Administrative Code.
As of right now, both the Civil Service, Local Governance, and Education Codes are already undergoing their respective parliament committee deliberations, considering various expertise all over the region and the country. The Electoral and Revenue Codes are on its final stages of deliberation at the Cabinet level.
Our work in the BTA Parliament is not hampered nor distracted but rather taking the ample time to craft legislations that are truly needed by the Bangsamoro in this generation and those who will follow.
In addition, we made sure that the government services are not affected during the transition period. While we gradually phased out the affected employees of the previous ARMM along with their respective separation pay and benefits, a significant number of them were retained and extended, while some were even included in initial batch of newly hired personnel.
During the said process, we take pride in introducing the Bangsamoro Job Portal which enables any qualified individual to apply for positions they see fit to their credentials. Unprecedented and the first of its kind, the Bangsamoro Job Portal has opened opportunities never been seen before and now, we are halfway through completion of filling up the 4000 plus permanent positions posted in the Portal, which received an astounding number of applications around 330, 000 applications.
Apart from fulfilling the mandate enumerated in Article XVI RA 11054, the Government of the Day has implemented key programs, institutional, and behavioral reforms aligned with the Moral Governance agenda and the Bangsamoro Development Plan.
As an example, we have strengthened revenue collection with MENRE’s P306 million collection in 2019 which is P101 million more compared to the highest annual remittance of ARMM.
We also saw an increase on the number of Seal of Good Local Governance Awardees in the region, garnering a total of 28 SGLG awardees for 2019 which is 5 more than what the previous ARMM achieved. Furthermore, the 28 SGLG awardees made the BARMM as the number 1 region in Mindanao and 5th in the entire country.
The level of transparency in our infrastructure work has also been manifested with the Expanded Bangsamoro Advanced Road Mapping and Management (E-BARMM) System – an online repository of MPW-BARMM projects. Using geotagged photos for data validation, the core goals of the E-BARMM System are transparency and efficiency in project monitoring.
The significant improvement in terms of peace and security in the Bansgamoro have boosted the confidence of investors and enhanced other economic drivers in the region.
The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI-BARMM) has registered an amount of Php 4.153 billion worth of investments wherein they also recorded 2,724 employments in 2019. The RBOI exceeded its target of generating Php 2.3 Billion worth of investment projects by 180%.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region also ranked 2nd among the regions in Mindanao in terms of Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) and Gross Regional Domestic Expenditure (GRDE) growth rate in 2019. Furthermore, we ranked 7th among the 17 regions in the country after posting 5.9 percent growth rate in our GRDP.
My fellow Bangsamoro, while it is important to see these developments on figure, we also acknowledge that there are efforts that should go directly to the ground.
These are what we like to call as “ramdan ng tao” programs because the government can only be felt when its initiatives are translated to tangible outputs that they can feel immediately.
Project TABANG or the ‘Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan’ was conceptualized and initiated in order to bring government services closer to the people. Through the collective effort of the various ministries and offices, BARMM has successfully conducted the Project Tabang throughout the region.
Pursuant to the 12-Point Priority Agenda of the Government of the Day, particularly the emphasis on health, the Office of the Chief Minister established the Ayudang Medikal Mula sa Bansgamoro Government (AMBAG) to provide medical assistance to indigent and poor Bangsamoro patients.
As of December, 2020, the AMBAG has provided at least 9, 219 patients through its 11 partner hospitals. AMBAG seeks to expand its coverage by partnering additional hospitals within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and beyond to provide assistance to Bangsamoro outside the core territories.
We also recently launched the Marawi Rehabilitaiton program worth 500 million pesos to supplement the current efforts of the National Government through the Task Force Bangon Marawi. The project steering committee has approved initial programs that would hopefully address some of the needs of our brothers and sisters in Marawi.
Pursuant to the Bangsamoro Organic Law, we are proud to officially welcome the 63 Barangays in North Cotabato and Cotabato City to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The official turnover of other national departments to the pertinent ministries in the BARMM are being facilitated and we would like to commend the Intergovernmental Relations Body Co-Chaired by Minister Mohagher Iqbal and Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez in operationalizing these key provisions of the BOL.
Notice of Cash Allowance (NCA) was issued last February 12, 2020 for the release of Internal Revenue Allotment of 11 existing municipalities that previously do not receive IRA and as we speak, no BARMM local government unit functions without IRA, a promising the development at the heartland of the Bangsamoro.
All things seemed on track until one pandemic changed the course of the world.
But just like the persistence of our communities, we faced the challenge and made sure that the Bangsamoro is protected from the threats carried by the coronavirus.
In support to our Bangsamoro Health Warriors, we made sure that proper augmentation of medical equipment and supplies was made, that hazard pay for health workers are rightfully given, Medical Assistance for COVID 19 patients through Ayudang Medikal Mula sa Bangsamoro Government (AMBAG) are available.
In addition, we made sure that COVID-19 isolation and treatment facilities were established in all five provinces in the region along with proper implementation of national pandemic response and working closely together with local government units and major hospitals all over the region.
None of us saw this coming. Of all the things we prepared for during the peace process, a pandemic is not one of them.
But the Almighty Allah is with us and Alhamdulillah, the BARMM is making it through this deadly pandemic. As we speak, we remain to be the region with the lowest number of positive and active cases. We continue to build isolation centers, support our front liners, provide assistance to those in need, and execute plans and protocols to contain the spread of the virus. We intend to keep it that way until a proper vaccination program is installed in the region and in the country.
We have initially allocated 500 million pesos for the procurement of COVID19 vaccine. Preliminary engagements with key companies have already started and we will work hard to get the needed vaccine as soon as possible.
However, our work is not ours alone but with partners that were there right from the start of the peace process – organizations that continue to believe in the Bangsamoro cause and the hope of lasting peace in Mindanao, In shaa Allah. Hence, we thank our various private partners who work with us by providing capacity building and other strategic programs.
Upon our assumption in 2019, we inherited the budget left by the previous ARMM. Taking into consideration the complexities in the transition period and the fact that this has already been programed, we were not able to implement new programs aligned with our vision for the Bangsamoro. Year 2020 was the first year where we operated under the block grant. The implementation of major programs and plans of the various ministries and offices, however, were greatly affected by the pandemic as we redirected our priorities in mitigating the spread of the virus and addressing the needs of our people. We enter 2021 still very mindful of the threats of the virus, but with health protocols in place and a vaccine program coming soon, we can and we must do more this year. As such, I direct all ministries and other pertinent offices to go all out in implementing major programs.
On the area of education, the Government of the Day has launched multiple scholarship programs that give opportunities for students who deserve our support in all academic levels. We have also hired more than 1, 400 licensed teachers throughout the region in the hopes of providing a better education. This will be complemented with various infrastructure projects and other pertinent programs for our teaching and non-teaching personnel, schools and of course, our students. The Ministry of Basic Higher and Technical Education shall continue to implement major reforms and enforce policies, including the difficult and sensitive ones.
Local government units shall have equitable share in the various infrastructure projects lodged in the Ministry of Public Works. This shall be reinforced by strict monitoring and evaluation to ensure completion of these projects are at par with the technical specifications and program of works.
We shall continue to prioritize programs that have direct impact to the everyday lives of our people. Programs and activities in the Ministry of Social Services and Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, and other special programs from the various ministries and offices shall be made accessible to the people.
To my fellow Bangsamoro, the establishment of the Autonomous Government is not an end but a mere continuation of our struggle. It is important to constantly remind ourselves that what we achieved so far is founded on the blood, sweat, and tears of our brethren, our mujahedeens, as well as the people and communities who went through so much pain and suffering for the sake of our struggle. Giving honor and justice to these sacrifices are precisely the main considerations in the normalization process of the peace agreement. While we see that many of the agreed deliverables are not yet met in this critical track of the peace process, we also see that we can do our share in giving such honor and justice in the political track by building a government truly worthy of the name Bangsamoro.
Two years ago, we began crafting the next chapter of the Bangsamoro but the story is not yet over and we still have more to do. With the challenges brought by the pandemic along with the massive changes in the bureaucracy, time is really of the essence. The Bangsamoro Transition Period is a crucial time and we cannot afford to lose this opportunity for anything less than what we have envisioned in the Bangsamoro Organic Law. For some, it may only mean as a timeframe. However, in peacebuilding perspective and for us who have struggled for decades, it is probably the most important phase of the peace process that should never be taken for granted.
It’s time to make the Bangsamoro the destination to be, the face of renewed bureaucracy, and the region that we can truly call our own.
The Bangsamoro Foundation Day is a reminder that we cannot do this alone. We should therefore work hand in hand to allow the fulfillment of significant points in the organic law with consideration to what we have learned so far as the interim government.
As the successful peace process would teach us, the journey to peace is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Let us continue to thrust forward for the sake of the Bangsamoro. We must move together in making our shared dreams and aspirations a reality, In shaa Allah.
Thank you very much and Wassalam.