MILG Partners with PRLS on Executive-Legislative Workshop on the Bangsamoro Local Government Code

The BARMM Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) in collaboration with the BTA-BARMM Parliament’s Policy Research and Legal Service (PRLS) will have an executive-legislative workshop on the Bangsamoro Local Government Code on February 10-11,2022. The workshop will deliver a series of Legal Opinions and Policy Commentaries based on different analytical views.

Check the poster below to see the list of topics that will be discussed.

Legal Opinions and Policy Commentaries will be published soon.

Call for Policy/Legal Commentaries Winners

We are pleased to present to you the winning entries of our “Call for Policy/Legal Commentaries” held during the Bangsamoro Foundation Week, January 17-21, 2022. Among the numerous submission we received, these stellar individuals from across the country have successfully been selected as part of the best six entries.

Our utmost gratitude to all who have joined this competition. Alhamdulillah, this is a testament to a bright future that is ahead of the Bangsamoro.

The authors’ views in a policy/legal commentary are of their own and do not represent the official position of PRLS.

Click the link to access the full papers.

Policy Commentary 1: “A Step towards Historical [In]justices: Reforming the Bangsamoro History”

A Step towards Historical [In]justices: Reforming the Bangsamoro History

Authored by: Kebart Licayan

The Bangsamoro Day is observed on January 21st, as stipulated in the Bangsamoro Administrative Code. This year, the Bangsamoro Government celebrated its third founding anniversary with the theme, “Changing Peoples’ Lives, Transforming the Bangsamoro: Celebrating and Sustaining the Gains of Peace and Moral Governance.” This subject focuses on the regional government’s achievements in creating peace and development, as well as reforming the Bangsamoro, over the last three years.

As a parliamentary professional working for the regional government, I had to rethink what our accomplishments were, and how we could maintain them. Indeed, the regional government has made numerous accomplishments in the last three years, allowing the region to maintain its peace and order. However, there is still work to be done in the coming years. The redress of historical injustices was one of the most important elements in the formation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.


Click the download button to access the full paper.

Policy Note 1: “On Forming a Committee That Investigates On Parliamentary Officials’ Accountability”

On Forming a Committee That Investigates On Parliamentary Officials’ Accountability

Authored by: Vincent Casil, Kebart Licayan, and Nashrolah Langco

The Philippine constitution underscores that public office is a public trust. Accountability of the public officers should be a paramount concern of just governance, as, without accountability, one cannot ensure that the government is working for the people and providing service for the community. Accountability also guarantees that misdoings, if not prevented, shall be rectified. Different governments around the world, including the Philippines, have formed various institutions that address issues of corruption. One of the key committees in the Philippine national government that is concerned with accountability is the Blue Ribbon Committee. In the regional setting, the Bangsamoro Parliament has similar needs to prevent misconduct and hold public officials accountable. However, the institutions to be built to serve such purposes should be critically examined to express Bangsamoro’s regional autonomy and democratic capacities of its Parliamentary form of government. This paper provides notes on the unique powers of the Parliament to oversight and issues on the formation of key institutions that ensure the accountability of BARMM officials.

Click the download button to access the full paper.

Legal Opinion 1: “Review of the Draft of the Internal Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Good Government, Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation, Otherwise Known as The Blue Ribbon Committee”

Review of the Draft of the Internal Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Good Government, Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation, Otherwise Known as The Blue Ribbon Committee

Authored by Atty. Hisham Nazz Ala Biruar, CPA

This pertains to the request for the review of the draft of the “Internal Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Good Government, Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation, otherwise known as the Blue Ribbon Committee in the Conduct of Inquiries and Investigations in Aid of Legislation”.

At the outset, we must state that Section 5(d), Article VII of Republic Act No. 11054 (RA 11054), otherwise known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, sets forth the power of the Parliament to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. The provision pertinently reads as follows:

Bangsamoro Parliament

SEC. 5. Powers.The Parliament shall have the following powers: xxx

(d) Conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its rules. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiry shall be respected; xxx.

The said provision is akin to Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which reads as follows:

SEC. 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.

A careful perusal of both provisions reveals that unlike Sec. 21, Art. VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the phrase “or any of its respective committees” is absent in Section 5(d) of RA 11054.

Click the download button to access the full paper.

Revisiting the Narrative of Bangsamoro with Dr. Potre

The Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS-BTA) was fortunate to have Bangsamoro’s very own Dr. Potre Dirampatan-Diampuan, Ph.D., who delivered a fascinating virtual lecture on the History of the Bangsamoro. The lecture was threefold: (1) Bangsamoro Ethno-linguistic groups and identity, (2) Narratives of the Muslims in the Philippines: A Historicity, and (3) Chronicle of Muslims affairs in the Philippines.

In the first session, she introduces, as she dubbed, the 13+1 Bangsamoro Ethno-linguistic groups and identity (Badjao, Iranun, Jama Mapun, Kalagan, Kalibugan, Palawani, M’ranao, Malbog, Sama, Sangil, Tausug, and Yakan plus the Balik Islam group), and their intra-faith and intra-cultural diversity that have shaped the past of the Muslims in the Philippines at present, citing “While we engaged in Interfaith, we need also to work in Intra-faith (Dialogues).” Then she connected it to “History to Policy” where she stressed, “learn from the past as a way to move forward for the better Bangsamoro” further expressing that we are the product of social events of the past that are beyond our control, or Dejala (you are already there).

In the second session, Dr. Potre dubbed the Narratives of the Muslims in the Philippines: A Historicity as “A full semester in a four-hour lecture.” For this part of the Philippine Muslim history, we have witnessed both notable movements and tragic accounts that greatly contributed to the present Bangsamoro:

  • The stages of Spanish-Moro wars highlighting the Moro’s principality and inevitable resistance against Spanish subjugations; “If the national heroes became heroes because they fought for freedom, we should also be (considered) as heroes for not only defending but fighting till the Japanese time.”
  • The Moro problems, mainly the derogatory representation of the Spaniards of Moro identity. Dr. Potre cited, “The Moro-Moro stage play: only on stage that the Spaniards defeated the Moros.”
  • The discriminatory land laws against the Moros by the Spaniards, the introduction of land reforms that are derogatory to Muslims; the denial of royal titles by the Philippine government, and the Filipinization and Moro disbarment.
  • The Pre-Martial law tragedies: the Jabidah massacre and the Ilaga massacres/movements that triggered the Bangsamoro movements. What makes these atrocities worst, as Dr. Potre adhered, is the no regard from the government as well as the no actions and no recognition of the numbers of atrocities against Muslims; and
  • The Muslims in the Philippines at present, where she accounts the (a) the various responses of the Muslims to the abovementioned atrocities and (b) the establishments of Muslim communities in Metro-Manila in the 1970s. Historicity simply means separating facts from false narratives which includes the collective authentic works from our recent scholars. It answers the question of why the Muslims in the Philippines are being less regarded in policymaking.

Lastly, in the Chronicle of Muslims affairs in the Philippines, Dr. Potre explored the evolution of Muslim affairs, from the colonial period, American colonization, and the Philippine rule, highlighting, among others, the enactment of Presidential Decree 1083 (PD1083) also known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. This, on the other hand, answers the question of what the challenges are and lapses of Muslims in running a government.

As a synopsis, Dr. Potre concluded that the present Bangsamoro government has a set of opportunities and challenges. Opportunities in a sense that we can still change and correct our previous shortcomings, and challenges in a way that we need to meet the BARMM’s vision of uplifting the Bangsamoro’s lives and governing ourselves through moral governance. She ends her lecture by saying “It is up to us if we make the difference” and “let’s continue courting the government… we are trying to help in nation-building while trying to make the government understand (our aspirations).”

“It is up to us if we make the difference” and “let’s continue courting the government… we are trying to help in nation-building while trying to make the government understand (our aspirations).”

Potre D. Dirampatan Diampuan, Ph.D.

The lecture was so timely, first, the BARMM celebrates its third founding anniversary anchored on the theme “Changing people’s lives: Transforming the Bangsamoro,” and second, the PRLS is currently in partnership with the Ministry of Local and Interior Government (MILG) on LGUs trend of the Supreme Courts’ Mandanas-Garcia ruling and devolution of LGUs functions.

Watch the recorded lecture on our youtube channel:

PRLS takes part in MILG’s forum on Moral Governance on BARMM’s Fiscal and Local Autonomy

Last January 19, 2022, in celebration of the 3rd founding anniversary of the Bangsamoro government, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) in partnership with Policy Research and Legal Services (PLRS), regional local government units (LGUs) regional authorities, and development partners conducted a talk titled: “Ugnay Talakayan: Moral Governance on BARMM’s Fiscal and Local autonomy.” The talk invited the PRLS division heads as expert speakers to tackle the current discourse on LGUs.

PRLS Director Nassef Manadbilang Adiong, PhD talking about moral governance

On Moral Governance, Dr. Nassef M. Adiong, Director of PRLS, stresses the importance of creating the BARMM’s concept of leadership since our national heroes were greatly influenced by the Western and European concepts of leadership that were adopted by our country. Creating our own Canon of education specifically on the Bangsamoro knowledge production is also vital, being inspired by the first Muslim thinkers during the golden civilization of Islam. He calls for the inclusion of all types of leadership as mandated by Prophet Muhammad’s Charter of Madina—the first documented constitution in the world. Lastly, he highlights the five principles of moral governance which are Faith, Freedom, Moral authority, Common good, and Social Ethics, concerning community, justice, peace, and equality.

On the other hand, Atty. Sha Elijah B. Dumama-Alba, Attorney General of the Attorney general’s office, Office of the Chief Minister, highlights the main objective of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) i.e. “To designate an important body of activities or interactions occurring between governmental units of all types and levels within the government.” It establishes Processes and Institutions through which the national government (NG) and local government units (LGUs) interact, specifically it settles the relationship between the NG and Bangsamoro Government. Atty. Sha highlights that while it has some given challenges, e.g., the lack of appreciation and awareness of the critical role of IGR, IGR promises inclusive decision making and develops unity in diversity. She further concluded that successful IGR needs strong political will, optimizes formal and informal IGR, empowerment of different social actors, and monitoring of implementation, among others.

As for the current trend on LGUs, Mr. Vincent L. Casil, PRLS’ Legislative and Research Division (LRD) Chief, tackled the effect of Mandanas-Garcia rulings and their implementation to admin regions. As the LGUs budget increases, Mr. Casil noted that devolution of services from the national government to LGUs requires the establishment of accountability and transparency in small units. He explored some of the coupled problems of LGUs devolution of functions, highlighting the lack of clarity in terms of its implementation. Lastly, while the ruling has its positive sides, (e.g. the long effect of its implementation), Mr. Casil concluded by citing “while we need to be an optimist about devolution of LGUs powers and functions, we should also be realistic on what is happening on the ground.”

Finally, Atty. Hisham Naz Ala Biruar, The PRLS Legislative Measures and Legal Assistance Division (LMLAD) Division chief has discussed the Mandanas-Garcia rulings and its inference to BARMM. Atty Hisham has explored the question that arises on the LGUs current trend “What really is the just share of LGUs in the National Government’s budget?” Then he underscored that as the NG implements the Mandanas-Garcia is the Full devolution of LGUs functions. This results in the National Government’s transfer of functions and responsibilities to various LGUs to perform. He concluded that the Mandanas-Garcia ruling cannot be implemented in the BARMM because of three things: the current transition of the BARMM government, the BARMM has its own government code, and the LGUs under the BARMM government are mandated by the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

As panel reactor, Akhmad J. Usman, Regional director DBM SOCCSKSARGEN, however, argued that transfer of functions is not the intention citing “it is not the devolution of functions but to realize the unrealized functions”, rather it is the complementing and/or distributive role of the NG. This includes maximizing the opportunities by empowering LGUs and requiring the LGUs a devolution plan.

Call for Policy and Legal Commentaries

In celebration of the Bangsamoro Foundation Day, the Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS) of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) are calling for submission of Policy and/or Legal Commentaries on any Issue in relation to the Bangsamoro Foundation Day’s theme: Changing People’s Lives, Transforming the Bangsamoro: Celebrating and Sustaining the Gains of Peace and Moral Governance.

You may submit your entry through the following form:

Six (6) entries will be selected among the submissions and will be awarded 5000 PHP as cash prize. Winning entries will also have the privilege of having their works published and publicized by the PRLS Social Media Outlets.

Deadline of Submission will be on 20th of January 2022, 5:00 pm.

Announcement of winning entries will be on 21st of January 2022.

To learn more about policy and legal commentaries, you may check the following pages:

Policy Commentaries : Policy Commentaries | PRLS (Policy Research and Legal Services)

Legal Commentaries : Legal Commentaries | PRLS (Policy Research and Legal Services)

PRLS, in collaboration with MILG, conducts Virtual Talk in honor of the 3rd Bangsamoro Foundation Day

In commemoration of the 3rd Bangsamoro Foundation Day, the BARMM Parliament’s Policy Research and  Legal Services (PRLS), in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) will be conducting a series of talks on “Moral Governance on BARMM’s Fiscal and Local Autonomy,” on January 19, 2022, 8:00 A.M.

Below are the abstracts and bio-notes of the speakers:

  • Nassef Manabilang Adiong, PhD – With more than 50 academic publications, 25 academic grants, 21 awards (UP Scientist, Bangsamoro Parliament’s commendation, UP Centennial Professorial Chair, PUP Professorial Chair, The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines, among others), 14 scholarships, 6 fellowships, 6 consultancies, and numerous researches, Dr Nassef Manabilang Adiong is quite befitting in his current role as the Director of the Bangsamoro Parliament’s Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS). Shepherding towards reforms in the political economy of world’s knowledge systems conveniently lenient to Western canons, he founded three research organizations, five book series, and one scholarly journal to provide impetus to marginalized plurality of intellectual voices. His recognition extends beyond the Philippine soil as he was elected as member-at-large officer at ISA Asia-Pacific Region in 2021, governing board officer at the World International Studies Committee in 2020, and Asia representative at the ISA Global South Caucus in 2018. For details, proceed to

Topic: A talk on Moral Governance

Abstract: Governance has been at the fulcrum of the Bangsamoro’s leadership. Whether it has been—or can yet be—good or moral governance is the question at hand. The discussion of good governance precedes that of moral governance in this article, with the former describing a modern-secular form of good governance as defined by international and multilateral organizations, while the latter propounds the idea of an Islamic-rooted moral governance. The new BARMM autonomous government is the opportunity for the Bangsamoro people to chart up their future in accordance with their distinct beliefs, culture, and aspirations, a shift from the struggle into fighting against oppression, corruption, discrimination, and other malpractices that are worsening the situation of the Bangsamoro people. Its leadership is determined to lead and manage the Moro society based on “moral governance.” However, it is difficult to understand what moral governance means. By using an exploratory design to frame research as inquiry and gain insights on moral governance as the BARMM’s agendum, the research navigated and conceptualized the meaning of moral governance based on a proposed framework that constitutes five immutable principles: Faith, Freedom, Moral Authority, Common Good, and Social Ethics. By constituting these interrelated principles that will map the framework towards practice, within the distinct historical and faith context of Muslim Philippines, an authentic Bangsamoro leadership is envisaged as a tolerant society to various Muslim groups and non-Muslim communities—Christians and Indigenous Peoples in particular. Consequently, the juxtaposed comparison of the ARMM and the BARMM will, in effect, highlight the tasks that were not successfully or satisfactorily implemented by the ARMM. These are areas where the BARMM can build its introductory steps to come up to the challenges of moral governance.

  • Atty. Sha Elijah B. Dumama-Alba – She is the Bangsamoro Attorney General of the BARMM. She is co-Head of the Joint Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Relations Body. She took up BA in Public Administration at UP Diliman and finished her Law degree at San Beda Mendiola in 2007. She was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2008. Atty. Alba is an Asia Foundation Development Fellow alumna. She was part of the 2019 Obama Leaders Class in Asia and Tatler Asia’s Gen.T List 2020 Leaders of Tomorrow. She is also an Asia Peace Innovators Fellow 2020. She placed 3rd in the Special Shariah Bar Examinations in 2018. She served as Deputy Executive Director of the  Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Attorney VI of the Civil Service Commission – ARMM before being appointed Attorney General in 2019.

Topic: The Intergovernmental Relations Between the National and the Bangsamoro Government

Abstract: Intergovernmental relations (IGR) are critical for the effective and efficient service delivery by governments, as an important component of any political system with more than one level of government. The IGRB is a mechanism created for the national government and the Bangsamoro Government (BG) to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultation and continuing negotiation in a non-adversarial manner. With powers granted to the BG under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, discussions on the exercise of these powers by the BG are undertaken at the IGRB level. BARMM ministries and their counterpart national agencies directly engage with each other to cooperate and coordinate on matters that involve simultaneous exercise of these powers. In an effort to lay the foundation for IGR in the Bangsamoro context, the Bangsamoro Administrative Code outlines the principles of cooperative government and IGR, namely: (a) Observing mutual respect between the different levels of government; (b) Maintaining an ethos of interdependence; and (c) Providing a platform for civic participation. How these principles are gradually being established towards marshalling coordinated service delivery of governments is an ongoing endeavor that makes IGR not an end by itself, but a means to democratize institutions, address imbalance, and extend services to all.

  • Mr. Vincent Casil, MA – He is the Officer-in-Charge/Chief of the Legislative Research Division under the Bangsamoro Parliament’s Policy Research and Legal Services. He is a China-ASEAN University Network’s Ph.D. scholar at Guangxi University, China, and a doctoral student in Philippine Studies at the University of the Philippines. His works explore the questions of political economy and its intersection with the development of democracy in the Bangsamoro region. As an academic, He has taught at Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle–College of St. Benilde, Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Philippine Christian University, and has supervised policy-related studies with the City of Malabon. His recent publication is on Merit-based Recruitment: Exploration of the Concept of Merit in the Bangsamoro (2021), where he enriched the notion of merit-based hiring in view of the principles of faith, freedom, moral authority, common good, and social ethics.

Topic: Devolution and the Bangsamoro: its Issues and Challenges

Abstract: The Mandanas-Garcia Supreme court ruling implies that greater resources shall be given to Local Government Units (LGUs). As a result, larger political roles are seen in the LGUs, which may be in need to be clarified to smoothen its relation with the National Government. Such a task of devolving political functions in LGUs is further made difficult in the Bangsamoro context, as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which established BARMM as a political unit, lacks clear articulation on how these powers will be decentralized to region’s LGUs, which are still operating under 1991 Local Government Code. Noting the issue, the paper further highlights other critical problems latent in the process of devolution by surveying significant experiences of governments of other countries that have shared the same experience where its national government has devolved some of its power to its local units. From this comprehensive grasp of critical issues of devolution, BARMM could draw key lessons and concepts that could be used to craft a sound framework to materialize the Mandanas-Garcia ruling in the region. 

  • Atty. Hisham Nazz Ala Biruar, CPA – Prior to his appointment as the Head of the Legislative Measures and Legal Assistance Division of the Bangsamoro Parliament, Atty. Hisham Nazz Ala Biruar, CPA served as a Chief of Staff of one of the Parliament Members. A Dean’s Lister in his college and graduate studies, Sham is a Graduating Class President and a holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from Notre Dame University, and a proud product of the Juris Doctor Degree Program of the Ateneo de Davao University as a third-ranked graduate of the Ateneo Law Class of 2018. Outside government service, he is a Finance and Legal Consultant, a Notary Public, and an active member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cotabato Chapter, having been duly elected as its Treasurer from 2021 to 2023.

Topic: Mandanas-Garcia Ruling’s Inference to BARMM

Abstract: In 1991, when Republic Act No. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 was enacted, there was a consensus among local government units (LGUs) that responsibilities and services were devolved but resources remained largely with national government. Nearly three decades after, the promulgation by the Supreme Court of its landmark decision on the Mandanas case on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) encapsulates the lengthy and complex efforts of LGUs and other stakeholders in demanding greater autonomy and resources from the national government. With the shift of power and responsibility, LGUs are now in the position to chart the destiny of their people and communities.

This talk will tackle the possible challenges in the implementation of the Mandanas ruling particularly in BARMM given that the Bangsamoro Government is still in a period of transition and is in the process of crafting its own local government code.

PRLS joins MHSD’s Writeshop on PLUC and RLUC 

The Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS) participated in a Writeshop on Provincial Land Use Committee (PLUC) and Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) Processes hosted and organized by the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD) held in 10th to 12th of January 2022 at Microtel, General Santos City. 

The two-part writeshops were spearheaded by experts from the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development-Region 12 (DHSUD-XII)- resource speakers Jovita G. Solarte, Supervising Administrative Officer, and Alberto P. Sero, Chief of Environmental Land and Urban Planning Division. Both of the esteemed lecturers gave assistance and guidance to MHSD in drafting a proposal of the guidelines for the RLUC/PLUC review processes, adapted for the context of the BARMM. 

The said proposal will cover processes on the Review and Approval of Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs), inter-agency endorsements, checklist guides for Local Government Units upon submission to the MHSD, certifications, and BARMM’s own list of review parameters, as discussed throughout the writeshop.

Participants from other offices too such as the Local Government Development Division of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), Local Planning and Coordination Division of the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA), and the   MILG-Maguindanao Provincial Office also took part in the said event.

After the writeshop, the PRLS, headed by Mr. Nashrolah Langco from the Office of the Service Director, expressed its support and assistance through a substantive and thorough review of the proposal as part of the action points for review and feedback in the coming weeks before submission of the proposal.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) is an instrument for the local government unit to allocate available land resources to different sectors of its territory for different functions. It must conform with the provincial and regional land use plans–with focus on identifying areas highly susceptible to calamities and climate change.

As part of its overall preparation, the MHSD has so far extended its technical team to various Local Government Units (LGUs) within BARMM in the profiling of their respective Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) as well as coaching workshops. The initiative was to identify future interventions and technical assistance that the ministry may extend concerning the updating and approval of their CLUPs and Zoning Ordinances (ZOs).