By Edwin Fernandez and Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has renewed his commitment to closer collaboration and cooperation with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in pursuit of just and lasting peace and progress.

Marcos made the assurance as he joined the celebration of BARMM’s 5th founding anniversary.

“We join our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in celebrating its 5h anniversary,” he said in a Facebook post late Thursday night.

“Recognizing BARMM’s indispensable role in our Bagong Pilipinas, our commitment to close collaboration remains strong for just and lasting peace and prosperity, not only in Mindanao but throughout the nation.”

During the inaugural BARMM Local Legislative General Assembly at the Acacia Hotel in Davao City in November last year, the President said the activation of seven intergovernmental mechanisms is crucial in achieving peace and progress not only in BARMM but also in the entire country.

The seven intergovernmental mechanisms that have been established and are now working in full swing are the Philippine Congress – Bangsamoro Parliament Forum (PCBPF); Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IFPB); Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation (JBZJC); Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board (IFPB); Intergovernmental Energy Board (IEB); Bangsamoro Sustainable Development Board (BSDB); and the Council of Leaders.

Marcos also pledged to support all initiatives to develop BARMM and transform it as “a shining beacon of sustainable development in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines.”

The Bangsamoro Government is carrying out a weeklong celebration of its 5th founding anniversary from Jan. 21 to 26.

This year’s celebration with the theme, “A Journey Towards Mutual Understanding, Peaceful Co-existence, and a Shared Future in the Bangsamoro,” highlights the need to propel growth and prosperity in the region.

Master dev’t plan for Camp Abubakar

On Thursday night, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) announced that the master development plan to transform the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Abubakar into a peaceful and progressive community was formally launched on Jan. 23.

This was made possible through the OPAPRU’s Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) and its PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program, the agency said in a news release.

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the master plan was officially launched and signed at the 1st Marine Brigade headquarters in Barangay Tugaig, Barira, Maguindanao del Norte, marking another major milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process.

Galvez said the master development plan seeks to boost business activities in the camp and that he envisions its transformation into a sustainable development model for other communities within and outside the Bangsamoro region to emulate.

The master plan was drafted by the National Housing Authority and sees the camp’s development in the next 20 years.

It features an initial 234 housing units for this year, 134 of which will be sourced from PAMANA while 100 will be shouldered by BARMM.

Part of the camp transformation are access roads, telecommunication access, potable water access, agricultural plantation areas, institutional and religious buildings, health facilities, and mercantile areas.

“Dividends of peace”

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo on Thursday assured BARMM leaders of the national government’s support to “continue to build and enjoy the dividends of peace.”

Lagdameo was the guest of honor and speaker of the 4th Pagkilala Awarding Ceremony for outstanding local government units (LGUs) held at the BARMM’s cultural center building.

“BARMM stands testament of the value of compromise over disputes, dialogue over discord, and collaboration over conflict,” he said.

For his part, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim reported that “the state of Bangsamoro is getting better and better.”

“We achieve significant milestones and surpass obstacles. We are closing the gaps in infrastructure, social services, education, health, and other aspects of our everyday lives to achieve the everyday peace we have been longing for,” he said in his speech.

Meanwhile. Lagdameo lauded the contributions of the normalization program and the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization to improve the quality of life in the region.

The 4th Pagkilala featured the conferment of awards to LGUs for exemplary achievements in governance, public service, infrastructure development, and cultural preservation.

The awards spanned various categories, recognizing achievements in areas such as local government functionality appraisal; search for model barangays; seal of good local governance for barangays, and local legislative awards, among others.

Each of the recognized municipalities received a plaque of recognition, an 18-carat gold medallion worth PHP420,500, and a PHP2.5 million incentive award. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)