UN Philippines chief reinforces commitment to help build peaceful, successful inclusive democracy in BARMM
18 February 2021
Message (as prepared) of UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez at the Plenary Session of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament held on 17 February 2021 at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, Cotabato City.
On 22 February 2019, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated the Philippines for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. He called this occasion a landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace in Mindanao, as well as a historic occasion for all Filipinos.
BARMM is now two years old, and its anniversary this year has brought the Bangsamoro people that much closer to their aspiration for their homeland after centuries of historical injustices and socioeconomic challenges.
Significant achievements have been accomplished since the establishment of BARMM, including forming the transitional government and parliament, the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority present in this hall; institutionalizing moral governance under the leadership of interim Chief Minister Murad Ibrahim, passing the 2020 and 2021 budgets, and decommissioning 12000 former MILF combatants.
However due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the underlying complexity of the transition, there is a consensus between the national and the Bangsamoro Government, as well as both the Government and MILF peace panels, that the essential work of the transition will not be finished in the remaining period.
These challenges highlight the importance of joint efforts. Building alliances is no longer an option; it is an imperative. This principle is at the heart of the UN’s work in the Bangsamoro.
With 13 UN agencies and approximately 200 staff on the ground supporting humanitarian interventions; livelihoods and service delivery; institutional capacity development and peacebuilding, the UN, collectively, is more present in BARMM than anywhere else in the Philippines. Very soon, the UN will further reinforce its presence in BARMM by establishing a satellite office of the Resident Coordinator here.
There are strong reasons for the UN’s longstanding commitment to BARMM:
The successful implementation of the Bangsamoro peace process will bring sustainable peace not only to BARMM, it will also positively impact Mindanao and the wider region beyond the Philippines. The UN is here to support the BARMM authorities, communities and the national government in the successful implementation of the peace agreement.
The UN has many agencies with specialized mandates but the main credo that unites all UN agencies is: Leave No One Behind. In spite of the talents of the communities in the BARMM, its rich natural resources and potential, BARMM is the least developed region in the Philippines due to decades of conflict. It continues to have the highest internally displaced population due to past and ongoing conflicts in spite of the peace process. The UN is here to support IDPs and vulnerable communities; to assist you in strengthening your institutions and capacities to deliver services to your people; and to partner with you in equitable and sustainable development so that BARMM can realise the full potential of all its peoples and No One is Left Behind.
Last but not least, BARMM’s formula for sustainable peace, justice and equitable development is: political reform through a parliamentary democratic system emphasizing participatory government among residents in the region, inclusion and consent. This is unique to the Philippines. The UN is here to partner with you in building the strong institutions and capacities required for a political process centred on high levels of political engagement and participation across all groups and sectors.
The UN is also a global community of practices, with huge experience in hundreds of peacebuilding processes. This experience is at the disposal of BARMM.
I would like to end by paying tribute to the communities of the Bangsamoro for showing us what true resilience and enduring hope for a better future looks like.
Inclusiveness must be a key element of this better future with the tri-peoples of the Bangsamoro having a shared future which is reflected in this assembly.
Last but not least, I have been struck by the women of BARMM who are playing a critical role as front-liners for their communities and families during this pandemic as well as in the many other crises that have afflicted BARMM; they need to be here, in this august hall, in greater numbers, participating in decision-making for a better and inclusive future. The UN stands ready to support you.
It is widely recognized that there is no peace without development and no development without peace; it is also true that there is no peace and sustainable development without inclusiveness.
Let us together continue to build a peaceful, thriving, and successful inclusive democracy in BARMM.