Full Text of IAG Executive Director Atty. Benedicto Bacani's Opening Remarks at the National Conference on Intergovernmental Relations with the Bangsamoro held last 01 October 2019, Makati City

Welcome to the National Conference on Intergovernmental Relations with special focus on the Bangsamoro.

This conference is part of the project Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro, that seeks to help build strong political institutions and autonomy arrangements thru dialogue, research and studies. In the transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro, we are focusing on 3 critical institutions that can potentially make or break the successful implementation of autonomy as the negotiated formula for peace, namely, IGR, fiscal autonomy particularly the block grant and Parliamentary system. These 3 key institutions are new and fresh in the current iteration of autonomous arrangement in the Bangsamoro. As new and novel institutions, they need to be understood and nurtured.

While IAG’s work has been largely identified with Mindanao where we are located as a homegrown Cotabato-based policy center, the breadth and reach of our work to promote autonomy and governance as effective solutions to assertion of self rule in local affairs extends beyond Mindanao. IAG is actively involved in shaping autonomy arrangements and the Organic Law for the Cordillera (a delegation is present in this conference). We actively participate in the national debate on charter change, decentralization and federalism to highlight the lessons of autonomy in the Philippines and to insure that the gains achieved for autonomous regions under the current constitution is preserved. Internationally, IAG’s work is helping shape autonomy discourse in Bougainville, Morocco, Aceh among others. Our partnership with leading international organizations in the field such as International IDEA, Constitution Transformation Network of the Melbourne Law School, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the International Academic Network on Autonomy among others, is providing the needed international perspective that broadens and enriches our knowledge and experience in promoting autonomy for sustainable and inclusive peace.

The need for operationalizing the IGR mechanism has been expressed at all levels of government. Yet, recognizing the importance of IGR is not enough. We must be able to design IGR, lay down effective structures, processes and most especially evolve a culture and mindset of coordination and cooperation between and among levels of government.

I would like to thank the Government of Australia for supporting Enpold Bangsamoro Politics for Peace Phase 2 and this conference under its Australian Partnerships for Peace facility. I also thank the Westminster Foundation for Democracy for facilitating the participation of Lord Jack McConnell. As well, my appreciation to International IDEA for Amanda Cat Baril’s participation in this conference.

While we have put together a panel of leaders and experts, we recognize the broad and diverse expertise and experience in this room and we want to capture as much as we can questions, insights and recommendations that will be included in the policy report of the conference. I urge you to make full use of the slido app to send in your comments and questions — the website address and conference code are flashed on the screen.

Again, welcome and I wish you all a productive conference. Thank you.