On 4 December 2017, Prof. Edmund Tayao, LOGODEF Executive Director was invited to an event organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ateneo de Manila University entitled “Way Forward: Beyond Peace in Mindanao” held at the Marquee tent, EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
At the second session of the conference with the title “Autonomy and the Peace Process,” the Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Atty. Jose Lorena was the first to present and gave a brief discussion of the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination, and gradually their aspiration for autonomy. Atty. Lorena also discussed the achievements and failures of each administration with regard to granting the Moro people their long-awaited autonomy.
Dr. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, the President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, believes that the present form of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) weakened compared to the version when it was still being negotiated by the GRP and MILF. However, she believes that the passage of the BBL or any other measures that will improve autonomy in ARMM is important as she considers perception as an important tool in combating violent extremism. Dr. Rasul-Bernardo presented the opinions of various religious Muslim leaders, mostly from the Moro region, on the BBL, Federalism, and Revolutionary government. She said that according to the religious leaders, majority are in favor of the passage of the BBL. While only a few Moro people are knowledgeable about federalism, those who are in favor views it as a means to genuine autonomy. However, many believe that the proposed federalism in the Philippines needs to be studied more. In contrast, most of the Moro people, according to their leaders, do not support the establishment of a revolutionary government as they perceive it as a measure that will result to military action and martial law.
Our Executive Director Prof. Edmund Tayao started his lecture by providing a basic understanding of decentralization. He also discussed the challenges faced by Local Government Units (LGUs) based from his encounters with various local chief executives. Prof. Tayao’s presentation was based from the JICA supported comparative study on Fiscal Federalism, looking into Regions IV-A, VII and the ARMM, and also the draft Philippine Federal Form of governement. The presentation showed what decentralization is and how it should have been adopted in the country. The limitations of decentralization are shown in the performance of LGUs and especially in the case of ARMM. There are conflicting provisions in the case of ARMM laws including various issuances, Executive Orders (EOs) and Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs), which can be seen in the revenue and expenditure patterns of the ARMM. Apart from this, existing intergovernmental relations contribute to the limitations of the ARMM Regional Government. The presentation concluded that all limitations of decentralization and autonomy are mainly political and can be addressed only be and through systemic reform.