WHAT is moral and what is immoral really depends on context. The culture and context of rules and regulations in Davao City is different from other cities in the Philippines, for example. The same is also with the Bangsamoro, in that we must always think about what would fit for our needs.
When Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim insisting for a “moral governance” for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), we must ask ourselves what this means for us. What does our own moral code mean for us, and how is this reflected in the kind of government we want to have?
Former CSC chairman Francisco Duque III said that “Good governance is almost always a contentious topic. The way public institutions manage public affairs and public resources is something that draws controversy and criticism. This also concerns us to the very core... as the premiere human resource institution of the Philippine bureaucracy, our work cuts across human resource management, organization development, national development, and anti- corruption.”
Interim Chief Minister Ebrahim is clear with this: “We started the jihad with an oath before the Qur’an. This time we will also take an oath before the Qur’an as we start our governance.” He emphasizes that the moral background of our governance is in our faith, and that we must define that morality means for ourselves before we can start on governance.
For the Barmm bureaucracy, we must establish and uphold merit-based recruitment for our human resources. This includes our administrative and secretarial team. They will serve as the backbone of the operations of our government, and it is through their efforts that we will be able to pass laws expediently. In addition, each person involved with the Barmm must have a strong personal code of ethics within themselves.
These visions of moral governance must also come from us. I spoke with some members of my team on what they considered to be actions that reflect an ethical way of governing. Their inputs spoke of morality in action – that of helping and reaching out to those who are less fortunate, and by granting them equal access to opportunities of education, employment, and livelihood. These programs must also be held accountable, wherein we see where the investments of both local and foreign organizations are going.
Another person on my team spoke about how moral governance in the Barmm should be rooted deeply in values that reflect the pillars of the Islam. The shahadah, zakat, sawm, salah and hajj are central to the life of every Muslim, and there are inherent values in each one. Ideals such as truth, humanity, respect for mankind, and excellence in all things must be demonstrated beyond governing.
The challenges of the Bangsamoro are still very much evident. We cannot allow ourselves to fall complacent; the adversary of a moral government is a citizenry that renders itself complacent. This must reflect in the BTA and the Barmm government’s own personal code of ethics, as well. We can make use of existing national laws such as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, and by ensuring that the integrity of our leaders is intact.
We must evolve into not just a government that creates and enacts laws, but one that listens to the people and adjusts legislation accordingly. This “listening” form of governance can be a solution the social maladies that the Barmm must overcome in order to create a just, moral government.