Building autonomy

“It will take time before BARMM blooms in an asymmetrical position vis-a-vis the national government.

Actualizing autonomy in a political government setup is no walk in the park. You do it chip by chip. It is a work in progress in the case of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM.

The first issue is the attitude of the central government’s bureaucracy toward the autonomous entity in delegating part of its power to the latter. Anything less than sincerity in sharing the national power will present a hurdle for the regional government. The national bureaucrats tend toward being reluctant, if not jealous to part away with some of their powers. There will be stumbling blocks strewn along the way that might stymie the actualization process and growth of the autonomy into full-blown governance with minimum interference from the central government.

Another worry is literacy about autonomous law. This brings back memory of the infancy of BARMM when a nitwit in one national department refused to sign a document downloading funds to the office of the Chief Minister because of the claim that there is no such position in our government structure. This was laughable. But it germinates the imperative of educating the bureaucrats about the BARMM and its peculiar set-up as a parliamentary form of governance oddly different from that of the national administrative design.

It will take time before BARMM blooms in an asymmetrical position vis-a-vis the national government, a status imposed by the imperatives and realities of the present-day zeitgeist.

In the meantime, it is the duty of the present leadership of the BARMM to celebrate and support any move that tends to strengthen the autonomy thru the full transfer of national powers to the various agencies of the BARMM.

Apropos of this, it was reported recently in mainstream and social media that BARMM took over the “administration of public transit franchises” following the turnover of assets, responsibilities, and related documents from LTFRB-12 previously exercised by the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board of Region 12.”

The report says that “the transfer of all assets, digital records, franchises, special permits, provisional authority, and other corresponding documents for routes under BARMM  from the LTFRB-12 was deemed necessary after the BLTFRB was granted authority to oversee franchises areas within its jurisdiction. LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III led the turnover of the tasks and digital copies of franchise documents for routes under BARMM’s jurisdiction to MOTC Minister, lawyer Paisalin Tago representing the BLTFRB.

Chair Guadiz, in his remarks, emphasized the full support to the BARMM leaders saying, “This day. . . represents the culmination of the centuries-dream of our brothers in the south for autonomy.”

Minister Tago expressed gratitude for the historical milestone for the BARMM region saying, “This is not just a turnover of documents but also a transfer of responsibility and commitment by the LTFRB. We are grateful to the LTFRB for implementing the provision of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.”

This step constitutes another building brick in the autonomous structure which will strengthen autonomy. It will no doubt benefit the riding stakeholders and enhance the delivery of public service. It helps that Minister Tago helms the BARMM’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication.  He is, by any measure, a hard-working public servant and a veteran regional legislator with decades of public service under his belt. He is trailblazing programs toward modernizing the transport system and enhancing connectivity in the region.

This transfer of power and other national administrative mandates to BARMM carries with it the greater challenge of proving that the nascent regional government can steer governance and lead the stakeholders to a life better than the status quo. It can prove the naysayers wrong by carrying out its mandate fully and with integrity. After all, BARMM’s credo is “moral governance” in sync with the Islamic injunction of right and morality.

Comes 2025 when the BARMM leadership will face the stakeholders in a husting, the verdict will be handed down whether they were up to the challenge of an autonomous government or not.


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