By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday enjoined the Bangsamoro people to “remain loyal to the cause of peace.”
Duterte made the call in his keynote speech delivered during the commemoration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) second anniversary.
“I am indeed pleased [and] happy that in the past two years, we have strengthened the collaboration between the national government and the Bangsamoro government, a significant step in achieving meaningful and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said in a speech delivered at Malacañan Palace. “My good friends, may we remain loyal to the cause of peace.”
The BARMM, established in 2019 after two plebiscites, replaced the now-defunct Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the hopes of achieving lasting peace and security in the region.
Since the creation of BARMM, peace and stability in the region have prospered, Duterte said.
“As I have promised during the early part of my term, we have laid the groundwork for lasting peace and progress in Mindanao,” he said.
BARMM chief minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim, BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education Minister Mohagber Iqbal, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III were among those present during the commemorative rites held at Malacañan.
Duterte was elated that “much-needed” reforms and mechanisms have been executed by Iqbal and Dominguez to foster growth in the Bangsamoro region.
The “noteworthy accomplishments,” he said, include the BARMM’s participation in the national planning process; the transfer of management of existing reserves and protected areas from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to BARMM; and the creation of Bangsamoro electoral office and regional offices of several national government agencies.
“Be assured that this administration will remain determined with its commitment to support self-determination, uphold human rights, and advance social welfare in the Bangsamoro region,” Duterte said.
Duterte also thanked Ebrahim for his “exemplary leadership” and efforts to ensure that BARMM will achieve “meaningful self-governance within the framework of our Constitution and other Bangsamoro organic law.”
Duterte also acknowledged that BARMM is facing present challenges amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
He said he had already directed concerned government agencies to provide continued support to the Bangsamoro region.
“Today, like the rest of the nations, the BARMM is faced with many counting challenges, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why I’ve given marching orders to all relevant government agencies to give full support to the BARMM through continued assistance in the region,” he said.
Duterte said he remains “as enthusiastic as ever” for what the future holds for the Bangsamoro people.
“Together, let us continue to find common ground in achieving our shared aspirations for economic and self-sufficiency, genuine development and lasting peace in our home region of Mindanao,” he said. (PNA)