THE parliament sessions that I have attended for this month have become interesting and complex. I wrote on my personal Facebook page that two very important questions: first, are we moving “slow” in doing our tasks as Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority?
Second question, how do we define the absorptive capacity of government agencies, and how important is this in the Bangsamoro?
Considering the gigantic tasks assigned to us ... we need to ask ourselves, where are we now?
It would be easy to answer the first question if we simply followed the provisions under RA 11054 (Bangsamoro Organic Law), particularly Article XVI which provides the powers given to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Sec. 6 states that a transition plan must be submitted by the office of the Interim Chief Minister within the first sixty (60) days of the transition to the BTA. This includes the implementation plans as well as the time period in which to do so. Sec. 10, on the other hand, calls for the formation of the inter-agency audit on the former Armm as to be turned over to the Barmm. In addition, the section also mentions the phasing out plan for all employees in the former Armm.
The former Armm prepared a budget of more than P30 billion for the 2019 under the General Appropriations Act passed by Congress. There is also an un-programmed fund for the Transition of Barmm of another P30 billion. With less than six months left for 2019, how can we prepare a program of works, submit them to the Department of Budget and Management, and start implementing programs and projects for the Bangsamoro?
All of these things that are happening now in the Bangsamoro may seem complex and hard to understand. However, we need to look at the situation using a framework of power-sharing in a transitional government. This phase has a common component within both peacemaking and peace-building initiatives.
One thing we need to consider is to give opposing parties space to build trust and confidence within each other. Both of their voices need to be heard in order to mitigate alienation from one group or another. If we can manage power-sharing between former enemies, we can then hope to implement morally-sound structures in the Barmm.
We also need to emphasize our relationship with the international community. Their power and influence will be able to serve as a third-party monitoring tool for us in the Barmm. Apart from that, these third-party political engagements also serve as a learning exchange between governments to be able to intake best practices for our use.
The three-year transition period allotted to us in the BTA is not enough. There are social and physical infrastructures that we still must navigate and construct, as the Barmm is now our new normal. As our mujahideen spent decades fighting for the right to self-determination, our building this new generation of Bangsamoro leaders will also take a similar amount of time.
The future of the Bangsamoro lies in the hands of its people; the Muslims. IPs, and non-Moro settlers that each contribute to this structure. Because these groups are so diverse and different, we must mediate and conduct dialogues between each other.
This is where the role of the academe comes in. It is crucial that they serve as the mediators for all of these groups – whether in the public or private sector – as they are the ones who have the deep knowledge and methods to do so. Power-sharing need not be something that can bring conflict, but rather can bring a health balance to the structures we are currently crafting in the Barmm.
The transition does not end when the BTA does. The transition only ends when we have a moral government that stands true to the ideals of the Bangsamoro as written in the law, and with the consensus of the people.