BARMM Transition in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

By Jeshamar C. Villasis, MPA, and Atty. Dion Lorenz L. Romano
August 05, 2020

In the middle of the transition, a big challenge confronts the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as it abruptly shifted its efforts to deal with the serious threat and more urgent threat on public health, the COVID-19 pandemic. With this shift in focus, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the people’s lives and the transition priorities in BARMM. Indeed, the public health crisis became a test of effective leadership in this most challenging time of the transition period in BARMM.

In this piece we present the additional challenges brought about by the pandemic and how the current BTA has been dealing with such an emergency. At the latter section of the piece, we also propose some recommendations moving forward to ensure that delays in the transition would be mitigated by agile and effective governance, triggering the importance of intergovernmental relations body between the national government and the Bangsamoro government for seamless coordination and cooperation.

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Should PVE be the first task for the main IGR body in the BARMM?

By Atty. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco
Senior Fellow, Access Bangsamoro
March 04, 2020

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) issued a report enumerating their achievements for 2019, three among the long list particularly bodes well for the economic prospects of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).The first one is the holding of the Bangsamoro Energy Forum in August 22, 2019 which initiated efforts to develop sustainable energy sources in the region. Second, the holding of the Bangsamoro Tourism Stakeholders’ Summit which signified the importance of tourism in grassroots development in the region. And third, a high investment record for the BARMM which indicates growing business confidence for the region.

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Designing for Cooperative Intergovernmental Relations: Considerations for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao

By Amanda Cats-Baril
Constitution Building Advisor for Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA
November 06, 2019

The passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) represents great progress towards realization of the autonomy promised to the Bangsamoro in the 1987 Philippines Constitution (Article 10). That said, the BOL is merely the starting point for realizing BARMM’s right to self-determination; making this right, as well as the autonomy envisioned, meaningful will in large part depend on the tone and form of the relationships between BARMM and the central government of the Philippines. This is a matter of intergovernmental relations (IGR).

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Too Premature for a Senate Inquiry on the Bangsamoro Law Implementation

By Atty. Bong Montesa
August 5, 2019

To conduct such inquiry at this time will not build confidence and will imperil a peace process that is still on-going.

Atty. Bong Montesa is a peace advocate active in the BARMM.

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BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo on Bangsamoro Updates

via Rappler
August 8, 2019

After the formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), what has the new regional government achieved in building the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful Bangsamoro region? Rappler speaks with Bangsamoro Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo about the developments so far.

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Oversight and Intergovernmental Relations in the Bangsamoro

By Atty. Ishak V. Mastura, LL.M.
August 3, 2019

The Philippines is a Unitary State. There is no more potent expression of this state of affairs than the Constitutional provision that all executive authority lies with the President. The President is the head of state and the head of government, while under our republican system the Executive branch of government is his exclusive turf.

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The Philippines: Militancy and the New Bangsamoro

via International Crisis Group
June 27, 2019

The national government and the transition authority need to reach agreements on the latter’s relations with local governments. They should quickly establish the Intergovernmental Relations bodies that are supposed to clarify and mediate relations between the Bangsamoro autonomous region and both national and local authorities. Without such bodies operating, the risk is high that confusion and conflicts over powers and resources will stymie the interim authorities and their successor permanent structures’ performance.

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Lidasan: Building a strong Bangsamoro foundation

June 11, 2019 | Mussolini S. Lidasan

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.

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BARMM must not be treated like a regular LGU

May 8, 2019 | Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM has been described as a “radical transformation” from its predecessor, the ARMM.

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BTA member calls for immediate creation of national coordinating body

May 6, 2019

A BANGSAMORO Transition Authority (BTA) member has called on the national government to immediately set up the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Body that will facilitate…

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BEYOND THE BEND: Proper use of IGR mechanisms is vital to the success of the BARMM

March 28, 2019 | Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco

It cannot be emphasized enough that for the newly organized Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) the path ahead is extremely challenging.

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BEYOND THE BEND: Asserting Bangsamoro Autonomy through the BOL

October 21, 2018 | Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco

The implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will face many challenges, both legal and practical.

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On Political Parties in the Bangsamoro

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

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.

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A Backgrounder to Professor Allen Hicken’s Policy Paper, "Designing Institutions for the BARMM: Electoral Systems, Political Parties and Parliamentarism"

By Professor Paul D. Hutchcroft
Professor, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
29 July 2021

PR voting systems can be found throughout the world, sometimes in presidential systems and sometimes in parliamentary systems. In parliamentary systems, however, it is critical to choose an electoral system that can help to foster stronger political parties; this is particularly important in the Philippines, where political parties are historically weak and lacking in coherence. Hicken’s paper lays out many options as it discusses the opportunities and pitfalls of designing the BARMM electoral system, starting with the basic observation that—by virtue of its parliamentary structure—“[t]he efficiency, efficacy, and stability of BARMM governments will hinge, in part, on what kind of party system develops.”

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The Future of Women’s Representation in the Bangsamoro Parliament

By Christine Bernadette “Bea” Almoite
Executive Assistant, BARMM Cabinet Secretary
04 May 2021

In the newly created BARMM, women make up 16.2% or 13 out of 80 members in the Parliament. Women’s representation in the Bangsamoro Parliament has yet to reach the 30% ‘critical mass’ that scholars define as the bare minimum percentage needed for a minority group to exert control over decision-making. However, it is essential to note that the 80 members of the BTA were appointed by the national government – the first of its kind in the country. With the end of the transition period in 2022 nearing and calls for extension still yet to see the light of day, the future of women’s meaningful participation in the Bangsamoro Parliament is politically uncertain.

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Making Peace Work with the Bangsamoro: Imperatives of the BTA Extension

By Yasmira P. Moner
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science,
Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology
17 March 2021

Over the weekend, on March 12 (Saturday), peace advocates from the Lanao areas (Lanao del Sur including Marawi City and Lanao del Norte) have successfully held a peace caravan of thousands four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles with an estimated 10 thousand warm bodies joining the 290 kilometers-caravan routes stretching through the national highway of Lanao del Norte and on to Sultan Gumander town in Lanao del Sur to demonstrate the urgency of the BTA extension until 2025. Aware of the legal concerns and issues raised regarding the appeal for the extension of the BTA, I see the need to also raise the words of those I have talked with, in both my virtual and actual conversations regarding the controversial issue of the BTA extension. Be that as it may, this piece does not represent the plurality of voices within the Bangsamoro, yet it is a conscious, deliberate, and sincere articulation weighing on the affirmative action in the context of peace-promoting political processes.

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On amending the BOL to preserve peace dividends in the BARMM

By Atty. Michael Henry Yusingco
Non-Resident Research Fellow, Ateneo School of Government
08 February 2021

The broader question here is how will the status quo affect the normalization process mandated by the BOL and the CAB. Basically, what will happen to the peace process once the 3-year transition period ends? It is worth remembering at this point that the peace process involves two tracks, normalization and political transition. It has been argued that pursuing both tracks should never be about prioritizing one over the other. Indeed, the prevailing view treats both as parallel pursuits. But while they are intricately related with each other, it is not a given that they should be pursued in perfect cadence.

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[Opinion] On amending the Bangsamoro Organic Law

By Atty. Michael Henry Yusingco
Non-Resident Research Fellow, Ateneo School of Government
01 February 2021

However, it cannot be emphasized enough that when the Bangsamoro electorate ratified the BOL in 2019, they had the clear intention and expectation of voting for their very first parliament in 2022. Therefore, it only seems fair for the Bangsamoro electorate to have a say over an amendatory law which postpones the election of the inaugural Bangsamoro Parliament to 2025.

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On the Proposed BARMM Transition Extension

By Atty. Emilio Marañon III
Research Fellow, Access Bangsamoro
28 January 2021

It must be understood that the BOL is not an ordinary legislation that can be amended following the regular process of law-making. The text of the BOL have been approved by an overwhelming majority of Bangsamoro voters voting in the January 21, 2019 plebiscite. It is thus a very persuasive argument that the sitting BTA and Congress cannot unilaterally alter or change its ratified provisions without having the changes likewise ratified by the people of the Bangsamoro. This view is hinged on that simple logic that to amend this agreement would require the same power that put it into effect. This argument is further strengthened by the fact, that per the phrasing of the plebiscite question itself, what has been ratified was not just the creation of the BARMM, but the BOL as a law itself.

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Opportunities and Pitfalls for Political Communication for the 2022 BARMM Polls

By Hansley A. Juliano
Instructor, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
Version as of 17 September 2020

The 2022 polls herald a momentous occasion due to the pioneering parliamentary elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on May 9. Calls for preparation for the BARMM parliamentary polls have already been sounded. We must note that parliamentary elections, by the nature of its institutional setup, expect that political parties are consolidated and animated by a common and explicitly-stated policy agenda. In a way, the institutional design seems to be the perceived panacea for the heavily-personalistic and clan-based politics of the region. That said, the nature of elections in the Bangsamoro has hardly been defined by long-term political party and genuine democratic institution-building.

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Ethnopolitics and Party System in the Bangsamoro: Issues and Challenges

By Rizal G. Buendia, PhD
Independent Political Analyst and Consultant, Southeast Asian Politics and International Development
24 August 2020

The innate tribal divisions and rivalries among the Bangsamoros need to be substantially reduced, hence transforming conflict into a cooperative arrangement that will eventually build the Bangsa Moro (Moro Nation). Given the diversity of the region, the BTA has to be prepared in addressing the multi-faceted issues, concerns, and problems not only of the Muslim population but also of the non-Muslim, non-Christian indigenous groups (commonly referred to as the Lumads), as well as Christian communities in the region.

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The New Rules of the Game: Electoral System in the Bangsamoro

By Ralph Chester D. Retamal
Researcher, Access Bangsamoro
25 August 2020

Last July 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11054, commonly known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), effectively replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the new Bangsamoro region (Corrales, 2018).  The law is a product of decades-long peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The BOL introduces a new government and electoral system which has the potential to bring long-standing peace to the region.

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The vital role of the Bangsamoro people in setting up their Regional Parliamentary Government

By Atty. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco
Non-resident Research Fellow, Access Bangsamoro
July 23, 2020

The Bangsamoro Parliament is quite peculiar because it does not mirror the form of government at the national level. By and large, other subnational governments in Southeast Asia are simply copies of their national governments. For instance, state governments in Malaysia are parliamentary in form like the federal government. But the Bangsamoro regional government is mandated by law to be parliamentary in form even though the Philippine national government is presidential.

Obviously, setting up a parliamentary government essentially from scratch brings different degrees of difficulty. But one complexity which can prove to be truly daunting for the BTA and the Bangsamoro people pertains to the central role of political parties in parliamentary elections and governance.

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Preparations for the BARMM Parliamentary Elections in 2022 must start now

By Atty. Emilio Marañon III
Research Fellow, Access Bangsamoro
July 14, 2020

In further pursuit of the aspiration of self-governance in the BARMM, the peoples of the Bangsamoro are set to elect their own parliamentary officials in a free and democratic region-wide election to be held on May 09, 2020. This election is crucial not only because it will test the readiness of the peoples of the BARMM for “self-governance,” but it is an opportunity to quell the doubts of those who believe otherwise.

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Projecting New Elections in the Bangsamoro: Heritages and Issues

By Hansley Juliano, M.A.
Instructor, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
28 May 2020

One significant innovation in Philippine institutional design created by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) would be the enactment of a regional parliamentary structure—a form of government which skews closer to the empowerment of legislative institutions over executive and judicial ones. Classical arguments in favor of parliamentary forms of government tend to extol the fact that a) it is adopted widespread by most governments, and b) that the fusion of executive and legislative powers can create stronger and stable governments.

At the same time, parliamentary governments have also been observed to either create “over-mighty” heads of government, as well become subject to unstable coalitional regimes. In particular, scholars like  Scott Mainwaring and Matthew Shugart have warned that “in the short term switching to parliamentary government without effecting parallel changes to encourage greater party discipline could prove problematic”. As is borne out of the contentious history of introducing parliamentarism to the Philippines, its adoption tends to be coloured by the political intentions of the proponents of such—especially when they are identified with long-standing elite interests. Thus, the potential political ramifications in an (as of yet) not wholly reformed BARMM, however, remain very salient.

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Parliamentarism in BARMM: Important Considerations

By Millard O. Lim, M.A.
Part-Time Faculty of Political Science Department, Ateneo de Manila University
November 13, 2019

Article IV, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 11054, otherwise known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), states in explicit terms that “the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region shall have a parliamentary form of government.” This is repeated in Article VIII, Section 1 on the appointment of the Wali: “Consistent with a parliamentary form of government, there shall be a Wali who shall serve as the ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro Government.”


Bangsamoro – the Opposite of Brexit?

By Lewis Hawke
Lead Governance Specialist
World Bank, Philippines
September 16, 2019

As the deadline for Britain’s exit from the EU approaches, it makes me think of how fortunate we are in the Philippines to be able to resolve citizens’ desire for greater autonomy and self-determination through an orderly process, underpinned by a detailed law, and goodwill amongst stakeholders.

Instead of proposing withdrawing from the union, like UK, the Bangsamoro people have voted to “remain” and pursue their goals as an integral part of the Philippines Republic. This does not necessarily make the decisions or the transition any easier. In fact, there are many challenges for the people and the parliament of Bangsamoro. I would like to focus on just a few, with emphasis on financial management.


The Promise of an Enhanced Fiscal Autonomy

By Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia, CESE
Minority Leader and Member of Parliament
Bangsamoro Transition Authority
06 September 2019

The enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (RA 11054) promises a stronger regional autonomy for the Bangsamoro. At its core, the law provides a new fiscal arrangement that vests an increased degree of fiscal autonomy to the Bangsamoro Government. It has expanded the sources of revenues to be tapped by the Government primarily through the annual block grant. This allows an automatic transfer from the national government equivalent to five percent (5%) of the net national internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs from the third fiscal year immediately preceding the current fiscal year. As a result, it has given the Bangsamoro Government an expanded authority over its appropriations. This means that it now has the power to pass its annual appropriations law, departing from the previous approach of submitting it to Congress for review and approval. With this new arrangement, the needs of the Bangsamoro community will be addressed in a more immediate manner with a wider resource.


Annual Block Grant Advantages and Potential Challenges

By Hon. Engr. Baintan Adil Ampatuan
Member, Bangsamoro Transition Authority
August 30, 2019

It may be said that the budgetary process that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had to go through annually was contrary to the idea of autonomy. For indeed, it is incredible how an entity can achieve the essence of self-rule when its exercise of fiscal power is subject to certain procedures requiring close coordination with, if not the approval of the national government. Fortunately, this issue has been addressed in the passage of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).