The author is a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. This piece first appeared in his SunStar Davao column.
The past few days have been an increasingly busy and hectic time. The challenges of dealing with government and legislative work, however, are meaningful because we work for the people.
It was in a consultative meeting with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni –from the staff offices of the Philippine House of Representatives and Senate— that we were able to discuss the challenges facing the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, and how the House and Senate have dealt with similar issues in their institutions.
Because the BTA is just starting out, all eyes are on us. This also means that there will be more questions and issues that arise that would not be amplified otherwise. For example, there have been questions regarding the speed in which the BTA can deliver its mandate to the people.
Their frustration is valid. Of course, they are eager to see the progress that we have envisioned and planned for the people. It goes without saying that we, too, are as anticipatory as anyone else. We want to be able to deliver our mandate, and delays in the budget and in the deliverables do not help.
However, this should not be detriments to the overall vision that we have for our people. More than a swift change, we also want a sustainable change. This sort of change takes time, as it involves not just our own personal convictions. The BTA is meant to be a representation of this vision, as pieces to a puzzle.
Because we come from all walks of life, there are also certain capacities that members need to deliver. Not all of us in the BTA are well-versed in legislation, or in development work. Not all of us have worked in government. As a collective body, we are only as strong as our weakest link. What we need is to be able to empower and capacitate each member, to be on the same page.
It is good for us to listen to Congress and the Senate, because of their prior experience after the EDSA revolution. As a nation, we are still building on our unified identity – one which will stand the changing political landscape. We have proven that, once we set aside our political and religious differences, we can work towards meaningful change. It is our mandate, all 80 of us, to work as one.
This can mean that we must have a strong administrative and secretariat backing. They also need to be able to efficiently coordinate the minds and perspectives of everyone in the BTA. Although the MILF leads the BTA, the body still needs the help of national line agencies that can help them prepare the social and physical infrastructures of the BARMM.
When these structures are in place, we must also consider the work of the line sectors in peace and nation-building. They are instrumental in preventing the aggressive activities of violent extremist groups in the area. For example, these VE’s recruit and train youth from the island provinces. It is the line sectors that work within the government to prevent such things form happening.
This is why it is important to prioritize the establishment of the Intergovernmental Relations Mechanism/Body (IGR) of the BARMM. This will allow for a more thorough discussion and implementation of policies that are in line with the Philippine Constitution and its existing by-laws.
As a member of the BTA parliament, I look forward of more engagements and collaboration work with our House of Congress and Senate secretariat office to build a strong Bangsamoro region.