Our journey towards the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the eventual success of the plebiscite for the creation of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was inspired by our collective aspiration for genuine peace and progress for our Moro brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

Moving on, we must sustain the gains of what we have achieved together – to realize a successful transition to the new Bangsamoro region, which will define the future and the eventual ending of the decades-long armed struggle in the region.

ACCESS Bangsamoro, an online and social media portal for research and fora to promote good governance, transparency and effective public finance management in the Bangsamoro, is an ideal platform to promote participatory governance that is an essential element of democracy. Masterfully designed to facilitate and encourage a free flow of information, discussion and analyses, this exceptional concept will certainly bring stakeholders together to openly exchange views on how to realize prospects and address gaps and challenges in a policy-based approach.

While its focus is initially on three critical issues, namely: intergovernmental relations, public finance and parliamentary and electoral system, we at the Department of National Defense are hoping that the same platform will evolve to also proactively counter and prevent violent extremism and radicalism.

On this note, this proud Mindanaoan thanks and lauds the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) and the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) for their profound initiative to assist in the transition to the new BARMM. I also thank the Australian Government for funding the project and for its continued and unwavering support to our country. This shared endeavor is another leaf to our countries’ years of friendship.

The challenge is now upon us to maximize this platform to achieve its objectives in assisting in the successful transition. It took us decades to be where we are now, in a state where we can finally provide our Moro brothers and sisters the real fighting chance to a peaceful and progressive life, and the democratic space to exercise their right to self-determination. We can neither fall nor falter.

Let us continue working for peace and as Filipinos, help shape a promising future for Mindanao and for our country.

Delfin N. Lorenzana