AS THE country focuses in combating Covid-19, we also need to highlight what is happening in the peace process.

The global health crisis only highlights inequalities that are present in our government, and if we forget to empower our government to act and to legislate, then we will fall behind when these occasions happen. The safety and wellbeing of the Bangsamoro comes first, but we cannot do this if we cannot build a strong foundation.

Last March 10, the Senate conducted a hearing on the updates on the implementation of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). It has been a year since the ratification of the law, and since the installation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. It is high time that we will review the progress that we have made, as well as the policies that still need to be enacted.

Present during the hearing are Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., OPAPP Spokesperson Atty. Wilben M. Mayor, Barmm Minister of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, and Barmm Exec. Sec. Abdulraof Macacua.

According to the speech of Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong, the BTA Parliament has enacted 8 Cabinet Bills and 68 resolutions. These included the creation of the bureaucracy and hierarchy of key offices, as well as standard operating procedures.

During the year, we in the BTA have managed to approve the creation of the following offices: theHuman Rights Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, the Women’s Commission, and the Youth Commission. In addition, Parliament was also successful in the launching of Project Tabang for health and education assistance, the Intergovernmental Relationship Body (IGR) between the Barmm and the national government, the Philippine Congress- Bangsamoro Parliament Forum, and the Barmm Socio Economic Development Planning Board.

These changes have been implemented despite the challenges along the way. Some of them included the timeline that we had to create and vote on such measures, as well as issues on the ground that needed immediate concern.

The next on the agenda for the Barmm is in the passage of priority legislation. This includes the Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Revenue Code, Bangsamoro Civil Service Code, Bangsamoro Educational Code, and the Bangsamoro Electoral Code. This can all hopefully be pursued before the end of the transition, in 2022.

Apart from that, there are also mechanisms that allow for easier normalization within the Bangsamoro. Members of the MILF-BIAF are undergoing training to become part of the Joint Peace and Security Teams under the AFP. This allows for a greater peacekeeping force within the Barmm, as well as a sense of livelihood for those affected.

For the international community, the European Union along with the Embassies of the UK, Japan and Turkey have committed to helping the Barmm through foreign development assistance, which includes funding programs for the people on the ground.

As echoed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process, the Barmm is on track despite the challenges that face it. There is still two more years to go, and with the amount of external and internal forces in the present, it is more important than ever for us in the Parliament to face them.

We see how global trends are changing the face of our nation, and we cannot stand by and let it pass. Let this health crisis also have us see what is really important, which is to deliver our mandate to the people. It is in protecting them, keeping them safe, and allowing greater opportunities for the Bangsamoro to remain that way.