By Edwin Fernandez, Philippine News Agency


COTABATO CITY – The legislative body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has started holding consultations with local officials and other stakeholders on the draft Bangsamoro Local Governance Code (BLGC).


The consultations, a first of a series, initiated by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Wednesday were simultaneously held here and in Marawi City.


BTA Member of Parliament (MP) Jose Lorena led the public consultations with local officials in Lanao del Sur, while MPs Rasol Y. Mitmug, Jr. and Laisa Masuhud Alamia presided over the discussions here.


The Cotabato City round-table discussion was facilitated by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) with Australian Aid and Notre Dame University Graduate School at Pagana Restaurant in this city.


Up for discussion was BTA Bill No. 58 (An Act Providing for the Bangsamoro Local Government Code).


In attendance, aside from local officials, were representatives from the religious sector, Indigenous Peoples, non-Moro settlers, academe, and the business sector.


In Marawi City, the BTA held the consultation at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol where comments, position papers, and legislative inputs were gathered.


"The BLGC will give a clear direction between local government units and the Bangsamoro government," Lorena said.


The code aims to strengthen the supervisory power of the Bangsamoro government through the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG).


Lorena added that such would prevent the MILG and the Department of the Interior and Local Government from having double supervision.


Instead of the word “government,” the draft Bangsamoro code uses the term “governance” to emphasize citizen participation.


"Further, governance means inclusivity rather than exclusivity, association rather than isolation, and accommodation rather than marginalization," Lorena said.


He pointed out that similar consultations will also be held in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, as well as in 63 villages in North Cotabato that are now part of BARMM.


BTA Speaker Pangalian Balindong said the BTA has accomplished most of its tasks, including the passage of three priority codes mandated by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) over the past two years.


During the transition period, the BTA is mandated under the BOL to enact priority legislative measures.


The priority legislation includes the administrative code, revenue code, electoral code, local government code, education code, civil service code, and Indigenous Peoples' code.


The BTA has so far enacted the region’s administrative, civil service, and education codes.