DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 August) – The Council of Leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) ended its first meeting under the Marcos administration on Wednesday afternoon with a resolve to meet quarterly.
There are only seven quarters left until June 30, 2025, the end of the transition period in the BARMM and the end of term of the incumbent governors, mayors and congressional representatives.
The Council of Leaders serves as adviser to the Chief Minister “on matters of governance” in the BARMM. The Chief Minister heads the 30-member Council. Twenty-two members attended Wednesday’s meeting at the Soto Grande Hotel here.
In a statement released after the meeting, the Council noted that as an expression of “dedication to moral governance and genuine inclusivity,” it “extensively and openly discussed several issues impacting the region that require immediate action.”
Among the pressing issues is the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
The Council agreed to convene the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) next month “specifically to avoid any unwanted violence and to sustain the peace and public safety” in the run-up to the October 30 polls.
Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Governors’ Caucus, told MindaNews that the Council agreed that RPOC meetings and meetings of the Council of Leaders will be held quarterly.
BARMM Senior Minister Abunawas Maslamama, head of the Council’s Secretariat, told MindaNews the meetings will be held “once every quarter basta hindi lang makasabay sa session ng Congress” (but should not be during session days in Congress). Six of the eight congressional representatives who are members of the Council were unable to attend due to committee hearings.
The transition period in the Bangsamoro ends on June 30, 2025. There are only seven quarters left until the end of the transition period, when the winners of the first election of the 80-member Bangsamoro Parliament in May 2025, shall have taken their oath of office and assumed their posts. The Members of Parliament elect the Chief Minister.
As the product of a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the BARMM is the only region in the country adopting a parliamentary system within a Presidential system.
According to Section 9 of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, the Council’s members are the governors of the region’s six provinces, mayors of three cities, representatives of the Bangsamoro’s eight congressional districts and 12 representatives from communities and sectors.
The Council of Leaders also agreed during their meeting to strengthen coordination between the Bangsamoro Government and local government units through the Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council (BEDC) “in order to rationalize and harmonize the planning and implementation of programs, projects, and activities.”
“We agreed to coordinate in all matters,” Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told MindaNews. “Pag nag-uusap, magkakaintindihan” (Dialogues help us understand), he added.
The BEDC serves as the “planning, monitoring, and coordinating agency for all development plans, programs, and projects of the Bangsamoro Government.” It evaluates and recommends short, medium, and long-term comprehensive development plans, programs, and projects for the BARMM, for approval by the Parliament.
In his remarks after the oath-taking of Council members on Wednesday morning, Murad challenged the members and “every Bangsamoro, whether you are in the government or not, help us achieve our vision.”
“No barangay, municipality, city, province, or sectoral communities will function efficiently without you, the members of this council, collectively following the letter of the law,” he said.
Together, he added, they will “continue to write about the future of our homeland in the remaining years of this transitional government.”
“We will create an enabling environment that speaks volumes about our goal of a united, enlightened, self-governing, peaceful, just, morally upright, and progressive Bangsamoro,” he said.
The Council met behind closed doors from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)