President Duterte urged to hasten creation of Bangsamoro coordination body

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THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) wants President Rodrigo R. Duterte to hasten the issuance of an order creating a body that will resolve issues between the national government and the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

At least three executive orders have been drafted — one from DILG, another from his peace adviser and a third from the Bangsamoro entity, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said in an interview last week.

“We are constantly requesting the Office of the President to issue the order already,” he said. Malacañang is probably trying to reconcile the three versions, he added.

Mr. Malaya said DILG can serve as the secretariat of the so-called intergovernmental relations body.

“We feel that we are in the best position because we exercise oversight over all local governments including the BARMM,” he said.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law calls for the creation of the body “to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultation and continuing negotiation in a non-adversarial manner.”

Under the law, “the body must exhaust all means to resolve issues brought before it. Unresolved issues will be elevated to the president through the Bangsamoro chief minister.”

The Muslim region in a Jan. 21 referendum overwhelmingly favored the creation of a new autonomous body known as Bangsamoro, which will have its own parliament, more political power and greater funding.

Bangsamoro will govern a greater territory than the old autonomous region after Cotabato, one of the more prosperous cities on the island, voted to be included.

Bangsamoro was created after years of talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a breakaway group from MNLF that signed a separate peace deal with the government under then President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.

Malacañang earlier said it would create a body that will seek to include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in efforts to end decades of strife in the Mindanao region.

Mr. Duterte had met with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in Davao City to discuss how his group can help bring peace to southern Philippines.

The president told Mr. Misuari about his desire to form a coordinating committee between the government and MNLF.

Mr. Duterte also ordered his peace adviser to convene the coordinating committee by the second week of September in Davao City to set the agenda and start discussions with Mr. Misuari’s group. — Arjay L. Balinbin