KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 27 July) – Senior officials from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) graced the sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Monday.
Invited to join the SONA were Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong, and Education Minister and Member of Parliament Mohagher Iqbal.
“The attendance of the BARMM officials in the momentous event is a testament to President Duterte’s strong support to the Bangsamoro people and the peace process between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” a statement from Iqbal’s office said.
Ebrahim graced the SONA via Zoom while Balindong and Iqbal were physically present at the Batasang Pambansa.
In his nearly three-hour speech, Duterte cited the passage of Republic Act 11054 or Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), as one of his administration’s landmark achievements.
The statement from the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education noted that under the Duterte administration, the 17th Congress ratified RA 11054.
Duterte signed it into law on July 26, 2018.
The BOL and the subsequent institution of the BARMM government are stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace agreement signed by the GPH and the MILF on March 27, 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.
As part of the BARMM leadership, the MILF is implementing crucial reforms and programs towards sustainable peace, justice and development in the Bangsamoro, according to the statement.
The government and MILF are currently working on other critical elements of the signed peace agreements, such as normalization that includes the deactivation of MILF fighters.
“The Bangsamoro peace process is now in the transition and implementation phase. Ergo, both parties have to exemplify a high level of trust and confidence [with each other], perseverance, resourcefulness and earnestness to fulfill all obligations stated in the BOL and the signed peace agreements,” said Iqbal, who also serves as chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel and the BARMM Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Body.
“For us in the BARMM, we will betray the memory and the sacrifices by those who came before us to fight for the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination if we do not serve our people with integrity. Hence, I want to reiterate our unwavering commitment to finding sustainable solutions to our current problems and safeguarding the future of the Bangsamoro for the next generation,” he added. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)