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COTABATO City, Philippines – European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron urged Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao officials to hold more extensive public consultations on the BARMM electoral and local government codes.
Veron on Monday, January 16, noted that the Bangsamoro was at a crucial stage in its legislative process as its interim officials stepped up work on the special region’s electoral and local government codes, and that wider consultations with marginalized and vulnerable groups in the predominantly Muslim region would enrich the process.
Veron came over to lead the turnover of equipment, including mini-buses, which were given to BARMM as part of the Support to Bangsamoro Transition (Subatra) program, a five-year initiative funded by the EU and co-financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
The program aims to support the smooth transition of the region through capacity-building efforts for the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Bangsamoro government, as well as civil society organizations.
Veron told BARMM officials, “We hope that more people will be reached, especially those in the remote areas of the region, more voices heard, information widely disseminated, and public service is made more known and efficiently delivered.”
He said the EU was confident that after the transition period, a more responsive and capacitated Bangsamoro government would enliven the principles of democratic and inclusive governance as provided in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The 2018 law created the BARMM, which replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as part of a peace settlement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which fought for greater autonomy in the Muslim-majority region in Mindanao.
BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim said the European aid served as a “symbol of our mutual trust, and strengthened our collaboration as we approach the fulfillment of the transition period of the BARMM government.”
BARMM Deputy Speaker Omar Yasser Sema said the regional government will use the EU donations to reach out to stakeholders and gather their views and inputs before the Bangsamoro holds its first regional elections in 2025.
Newly-appointed Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who also came over, renewed his commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process and the region’s transition period.
“Though I will now serve as the defense secretary, the peace process will always remain close to my heart. I promise to the chief minister and all members of parliament that I will dedicate the rest of my life to achieving peace in the Bangsamoro. It is my commitment and an eternal one,” he said.
Galvez said he continues to be the presidential adviser for peace, reconciliation, and unity while heading the defense department. – Rappler.com