On Political Parties in the Bangsamoro

By Bai Fairuz Candao
Supervising Administrative Officer, Bangsamoro Transition Authority
13 September 2021 

 

Allow me first to quote the first few statements in the Political Party Development Course background itself: “The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is given the opportunity to define its own political party system through the enactment of their electoral code. While the electoral code has yet to be passed, there is an opportunity for political groups and movements to push for progressive electoral policies.”

The truth is, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, through its interim government, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, in my opinion, is one ‘opportunity’ in itself. In the process of transition lies the myriad of avenues that await better ideas, approaches, and strategies in building a political party system that will actually concretize ‘Bangsamoro democracy’. I shall emphasize here the diverse background and qualifications of the Bangsamoro people which I sincerely believe are the raw factors and determinants of what specific policies are doable, negotiable, or practical to say the least. In the next sections, I shall expound more on that. With the transition period being an opportunity itself, I start to believe more in the power of political groups as ‘engines’ that can propel strong political institutions that can eventually endure future ‘wear and tear; in the Bangsamoro region.

It is rather intriguing, how political parties are created and the dynamics by which they are driven. To the best of my understanding, I tried to simplify how I think political parties should function, deliver their purpose, and how they relate to the Bangsamoro Parliament. By narrowing down some points, I thought I could do some deep diving:

Political parties serve as a conduit to advancing the Bangsamoro people’s agenda that will benefit the sectors they are representing. Political Parties may serve as important channels to realizing and addressing the specific needs and concerns of each sector in the region. Through political parties, these sectors may be fairly and justly represented, aligned with the region’s commitment to equality and inclusivity.

Political parties, no matter how big or small, can influence or tilt the balance of power between the majority and the minority. The influence that political parties can assert between and among the Members of the Parliament hailing from either the majority or the minority bloc, is a crucial component in establishing the rights of the Bangsamoro people. Political parties can neutralize opposing positions and put into proper perspective the priorities from noncritical legislations.

The current features of the Party List system in the Bangsamoro Organic Law provide great opportunities for marginalized sectors to be represented, considering BARMM’s smaller voter population size. Marginalized groups often do not receive the recognition they deserve. However, political parties have the inherent capability to define these marginalized sectors and identify who can represent them, such that someone from the marginalized sector itself will actually represent their group. In my opinion, this goes beyond equality or inclusivity; we are talking humanity.

The opportunity to concretize Bangsamoro democracy can either be taken or missed. In this case, I think the current leadership of the Interim Bangsamoro Government has on its shoulder the heavy responsibility to decide whether creating a political party system is a prerequisite to achieving the avowed objectives of moral governance or not. Just like much else here in BARMM, this remains to be seen and felt. I would like to carry a dash of hope in my pocket and believe that what is due to the Bangsamoro people will be given to the Bangsamoro people. There is a lot at stake here in terms of accountability and oversight. As things unfold, I can only hope that the revelation speaks the true meaning of moral governance.

 


 

Bai Fairuz Candao is a former Human Resource Manager in an international headhunting company based in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Currently, she is Supervising Administrative Officer of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, BARMM. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Access Bangsamoro, its proponents, or affiliates.