PEACETALK: Start together, dream together, create a vision together, and work together

(Welcome remarks and direction-setting for Local Government Units in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, by lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister for Interior and Local Governments at the opening rites of the “Training cum Orientation for Newly-elected Local Chief Executives” on June 15 to 17 at the Al Nor Convention Center in Cotabato City. The training’s theme is “Creating Synergy in the Bangsamoro Towards Moral Governance.”)

BARMM Minister for Interior and Local Governments delivers the welcome address at the the opening rites of the “Training cum Orientation for Newly-elected Local Chief Executives” on June 15 to 17 at the Al Nor Convention Center in Cotabato City. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Chief Minister, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim,

The honorable Bai Maryam Sangki Mangudadatu, Governor-elect of Maguindanao,

The honorable Mamintal Bombit Alonto Adiong ,Jr., Governor-elect of Lanao del Sur,

The honorable Jim Hataman Salliman, Governor-elect of Basilan,

The honorable Sakur Tan, Sr., Governor-elect of Sulu,

The honorable Ismael Sali, Governor-elect of Tawi-Tawi,

The honorable elected Mayors of the different cities and municipalities, of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,

Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,

Ministers of the different ministries of the Bangsamoro Government,

Honored Guests, fellow workers in Government, friends, ladies and Gentlemen…

Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

I am deeply honored, and in fact I consider it a singular privilege to welcome you all to this first-ever Training Cum Orientation for the newly-elected Local Chief Executives of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Welcome to all of you to Cotabato City, current seat of the BARMM.

I especially want to thank and welcome the delegation from the island provinces who needed to cross the Sulu Sea, not just the Bangsamoro Waters, to attend this important event.

May we recognize first the elected mayors and governor-elect of Tawi-Tawi.

A round of applause please.

The elected mayors and the governor elect of Sulu.

The elected mayors and the governor elect of Basilan.

The elected mayors and the governor elect of Lanao del Sur.

The elected mayors and the governor elect of Maguindanao.

To all of you, thank you for honoring us with your presence.

This training cum orientation for the local chief executives of the New Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is a standard training given by the DILG, and in our case, by the MILG to orient and guide these LCEs on the basics and mandatory tasks that they needed to comply upon assumption to office. The training will walk you through into the basics of running an LGU. It will orient you on the sequence of actions to take, what documents to accomplish, what ordinances to enact, what plans to prepare, and what special bodies to organize.

As a component of this training, you will be asked to draw your plan for the first 100 days of your administration and our provincial directors and our staff will assist you in this endeavor. More than the technical work of assisting you in preparing this today, and I wanted to emphasize this – this more than anything symbolizes our relationship with you, our LGOOs will be there to assist you as you run the affairs of your LGUs.

We will not just be there to make you comply with the requirements of the law but more importantly, we will be there with you in striving for excellence.

Our services are without color of politics nor in anticipation of a reward. Your cooperation is more than enough to inspire us to render technical assistance to you in the hope that it will result in the best services that you can deliver to your constituents.

This training is made even more significant by the fact that the new political entity, the BARMM, has just been established and its officials have just assumed their respective posts. Under the law, the term of the transition period will last for three years. This coincides with your respective term of three years.

What better way then to start than to start together, dream together, create a vision together, and work together to achieve that vision for our people and this region.

It is not unknown to you that the region presents some of the most dismal human development indices in the country.

At the opening of the “Training cum Orientation for Newly-elected Local Chief Executives” in the BARMM on June 15 to 17 at the Al Nor Convention Center in Cotabato City. The training’s theme is “Creating Synergy in the Bangsamoro Towards Moral Governance.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Poverty incidence remains highest in the region at 63 %, more than half of the population is poor; literacy rate in the region is the lowest in the country, access to clean water is the lowest, infant mortality rate is highest; electricity connection is lowest despite Lake Lanao being the source of around 68 percent of the hydro electric supply for the whole island of Mindanao;

In the provinces, the poverty incidence as of the First semester of 2018 are as follows:

  1. Basilan 72.1
  2. LDS 73.7
  3. Maguindanao 55.1
  4. Sulu 74.3
  5. Tawi Tawi 23.4s

This is unacceptable. We cannot sit idly amidst the very disturbing numbers which is reflected in the faces of children not being able to go to school; of adults not seeing a doctor before being bereft of life; of shanties not fit for human habitation but for animals and yet our people call it house; of children having to drink unsafe water that not one of you is even willing to wash your feet; and of youth having to join rebels without a valid cause simply for being unemployedI implore that we work together to put an end to all of these. Let that synergy of the region and the LGUs produce the needed power that can defeat these maladies in our society.

To create this synergy, we propose that we integrate our plans and evolve a common vision for the LGUs and the region. This can be done by the institution of processes and mechanism for developing the plans of the different levels of LGU and of integrating them vertically and thereafter to horizontally integrate the same with the Regional Development Plan.

The BEDC or the Bangsamoro Economic Development Council in Section 41. Art. 13 of the Organic Law will be the mechanism for this integration. For starters, let us use Sec 23 Article XII of the BOL which we pushed very strongly during the deliberations in Congress. This provision mandates the central government to provide subsidy to development and infrastructure projects in the region such as provincial and municipal roads.

In connection with this, I call upon the LGUs at different levels – barangay, municipalities and provinces, to submit to the ministry the list of roads that you want to prioritize. The five-year period is an opportunity for us to close the gap, in terms of development, for this region and the other regions of the country.

Let me also take this opportunity to announce the following municipalities of Al-Barka, Haji Mohammad Ajul, Akbar, and Hadji Muhtamad in the province of Basilan; Datu Blah Sinsuat, Pandag, Mangudadatu, Northern Kabuntalan, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hofer Ampatuan and Datu Salibo in the province of Maguindanao that you have been all converted into regular municipalities and are therefore entitled to receive your IRA. I remember distinctly during the bi-cam that Senator Migz Zubiri, with whom I worked as legal consultant for the BBL, had to argue into the wee hours of the night just to convince his colleagues that this is a reasonable proposition. This opportunity, we owe to the passage of the BOL.

Even as we recognize the many opportunities that are presented to us, we must equally realize the burden of leadership that lies heavily on the shoulders of each of us. As you embark on your duties as public servants, let us be constantly reminded of these images in our region – of Badjao children begging you to throw a coin into the sea as you approach the port of Jolo instead of being in schools; of tendong-wearing (head gear) Maguindanaon women scavenging for palay in the rice paddies of Ampatuan and Isulan as you traverse the Cotabato-Gensan Road; of children carrying water pail (balde) filled with steamed young corn shouting “kamais-kamais” instead of being in school while you take a leisurely walk in the golf course of the MSU of Lanao del Sur; and or of the shanties pitched along the banks of Rio Grande in Cotabato City that our people call home as your boat moves along the mighty Pulangi River.

These images and hundred others remind us of the great tasks that we must undertake to deliver our people from abject poverty to prosperity and peace.

But like many of you, I have an enduring belief in the indomitable spirit of our people and of our destiny as a nation. Our history as a people is replete with periods of greatness and resilience. When the spirit of our forefathers were tested by colonialism, they resisted and bequeathed to us our religion and a free homeland; When our forebears were then free to govern themselves, they evolved

strong political institutions called a sultanate and ushered in an era of peace and prosperity prior to colonialism; When our religion and freedom were threatened by martial law in the 1960s and 1970s, our people produced martyrs and revolutionaries that saved us from the infamous massacres.

In fine, when we are tested with adversities, we responded with great resolve to overcome them. In the darkest moments of our history, we lived up to the expectations of our people and remained true to our heritage as a free and resilient people. When our abilities are questioned, we respond with great talents; When our future turns uncertain, our leaders provide a clear vision for us; When we are in danger of being lost out in the darkness of the night, we light a torch to carry the struggle.

Today, we are again summoned by history to carry our people and this region safely to where it should be – to peace, to prosperity and to development. We must not fail them.

Thank you and may God bless us all.