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).

In Memoriam of Dr. Samuel K. Tan

We at the PRLS mourns the passing of a Professor, author, and historian, Dr. Samuel K. Tan, one of the great scholars of Bangsamoro Studies. Dr. Tan was Born in Siasi, Sulu in 1933, authored more than 20 books, and has devoted his life in the study of the History of Sulu and the Philippine history thereby awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award for History by The Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS).

Inna Lillahi Wa inna Ilaihi Raji’un. Dimagpak pa pangatayan namu in kasusahan, sabar iban kasila pa mga ahli iban kakampungan hi Dr. Tan.

Condolences to the bereaved family.

Call For Papers and Policy Notes – Legislative Workshop on Local Autonomy in the Bangsamoro Region


The Mandanas-Garcia ruling by the Supreme court seeks to allocate resources to LGUs (Local Government Units) for them to implement “devolved functions,” i.e. to have the power to perform such functions delegated to local and regional administrations instead of the central government.

Regarding the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), LGUs still operate under the 1991 Local Government Code and inter-governmental relations within the Bangsamoro Organic Law; and these laws do not provide any specifications on linkages between the Bangsamoro Government and its LGUs. The BARMM itself is a devolved political entity established by the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, also referred to as the Republic Act No. 11054.

The region, while technically autonomous, requires many of its laws and regulations to be reconciled with national laws and codes. It illustrates an immediate challenge to the Bangsamoro Government where it must delineate and negotiate its relationship with both the Philippine National government and its LGUs.


We encourage papers and policy notes that are hinged on, but not limited to, the discussion on the Devolution and Autonomy for BARMM:

  • Implications of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling on the BARMM
  • Policy reconciliation with the Philippine State
  • Benefits of devolution for regional administrations
  • How devolution supports greater autonomy of BARMM


Call for papers:

Pre-publication versions of academic or policy articles, book chapters, or reviews. Papers that are typically in progress, with preliminary findings, tables, and data descriptions, but the work is far enough along and ready to be shared and expected to elicit feedback from multiple publics. (5,000 to 8,000 words)

Call for policy notes:

Policy Notes are impartial assessments and analyses on issues of legislative significance. The notes aim to provide research-based inputs to the Members of the Parliament, which include a condensed version of discussion papers, policies, bills, legislative works, and studies pertinent to the Bangsamoro legislative agenda. It has a maximum of 1000 to 1,500 words including the references and with a specific outline of:

  • Executive Summary (200 words)
  • Background (300-500 words)
  • Policy Issue (1 sentence)
  • Data and Findings (300-500 words)
  • Recommendations (300-500 words)
  • Salient Points (3-5 highlights of the entire policy notes)
  • References


Deadline: January 22, 2022 Deadline extended until February 05, 2022

Send your proposals to the Policy Research and Legal Services: with the subject [research workshop submission_Last Name of Author]

Policy Note 1: “On the Production of Educational Materials tailored to the needs of the Bangsamoro People”

On the Production of Educational Materials tailored to the needs of the Bangsamoro People

Authored by Vincent L. Casil

Education plays a key role in building communities. It develops the population into skilled and knowledgeable citizens, integral for a well-functioning society. In the Bangsamoro context, education is not only an institution that trains its citizens to learn various skills. More than its practical functions, it also has a humanistic task of shaping its people’s sense-making on social issues, history, and identity. This goal could be achieved by introducing the relevant materials that explore the Bangsamoro conditions so that the students could have a meaningful understanding of the region’s social, historical, and cultural setting. However, such a crucial task could not be achieved if there is a scarcity of educational materials that embodies the unique Bangsamoro experience and worldview. Without the necessary materials, the aspiration for a more developed and just Bangsamoro society that can authentically determine its fate is hardly achievable.

PRLS conducts Seminar-Workshop on Moral Governance

DAB Education and Extension Services Division Chief Sheikh Yusoph Adzaman, PhD is leading one of the sessions of the seminar-workshop.

Further capacitating the Policy Research and Legal Services’ (PRLS) staff, another seminar-workshop was conducted by the office in close cooperation with Support for Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA) on 15-17 of December 2021. This time, the focus was all about the concept of moral governance.

The three day seminar-workshop was a mix of lectures and activities. Resource speakers from various organizations such as the Development Academy of Bangsamoro (DAB) were invited to lead the lectures while a number of PRLS staff led the activities geared towards incorporating moral governance into the office’s official workings and processes.

The PRLS extends its gratitude to all participants, resource speakers, and to the Development Academy of Bangsamoro (DAB), who took part in the success of the event.

PRLS conducts Seminar-Workshop on Legislative Analysis and Research

Strengthening personnel capacity for legislative analysis and research, BARMM’s Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS), in close cooperation with SUBATRA (Support for Bangsamoro Transition), conducted a seminar-workshop on Legislative Analysis and Research on 01-03 of December 2021. Alongside PRLS personnel, some members of the various offices under the parliament also attended the said event.

Speakers of various expertise from both SUBATRA and PRLS’s list of consultants and fellows lead the seminar-workshop. Aside from lectures, a handful of activities were also conducted for the participants to practice the skills taught from the lectures.

The PRLS extends its gratitude to all participants and resource speakers who took part in the success of the event.

Virtual Talk on Transitional Justice in BARMM

The BARMM Parliament’s Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS) has successfully concluded a virtual talk on transitional justice in BARMM entitled ‘Understanding Mechanism and Strategies to Deal with the Past in Times of Transition,’ held via Zoom platform.

We would like to thank our distinguished speakers, Assoc. Prof. Arnaud Kurze of Montclair State University and Assoc. Prof. Christopher Lamont of Tokyo International University for sharing with us their expertise on transitional justice. We would like to extend our gratitude as well to the Members of the Parliament, BARMM officials, and civil societies for attending the event.

SUBATRA Consultants for PRLS

The European Union is inclined to support the transition through the program called SUBATRA (Support to Bangsamoro Transition). Its purpose is to contribute to a smooth and timely undertaking of the transition through capacity building of the Bangsamoro Government so as to promote an enabling good governance environment with a focus placed on capacities that are critical for a sound functioning of interim institutions:

 Capacity of the BTA’s executive branch superstructure to impulse and coordinate key transitional policies and capacity of governance line ministries to deliver basic services (Output 1);

 Capacity of the Parliament to exercise its law making, oversight functions and representation functions (Output 2);

 Capacity of the Justice System to adjudicate litigations and improve access to justice (Output 3); and

 Capacity of the civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition (Output 4).

To support a peaceful transition to a democratic and inclusive Bangsamoro, SUBATRA will contribute to an enabling framework, deepening of critical capacities, strengthening of norms and practices and greater voice and empowerment of those left behind, especially women and indigenous peoples. Towards this end, SUBATRA under Output 2 shall focus its support on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament in the development of its institutional capacity, and its capacity in the performance of the lawmaking, oversight, and representation functions. In addition, SUBATRA is also aimed to support the BTA Parliament in providing technical support for the passage of vital legal instruments and codes that will ultimately serve as the institutional foundations of the Bangsamoro.

As envisaged in SUBATRA’s result 2.4 BP’s legislative and technical support services, the legislative and technical support can be done through the capacity development of the Parliament’s Policy Research and Legal Services (PRLS). Thus, the role of the consultant shall play a critical task in developing the capacity of the PRLS and its staff on research and writing policy papers. The consultant shall also be tasked to conduct trainings as regards to the tools and techniques on their field of expertise in research and policy studies.

Distinguished Consultants for PRLS under the SUBATRA program

Associate Professor Dr Melanie Reyes has been with the women’s movement(s) for more than 20 years. She is a Board Officer of the Women and Gender Studies Association of the Philippines (WSAP) and member of the National Gender Resource Pool of the Philippine Commission on Women providing technical assistance through capacity building on gender concerns to national government agencies, educational institutions, and local government units. She has coordinated several projects such as the Regional Program to Promote Gender Equality in Political Participation in the Philippines with AECID and the two phases of the Women, Peace, and Security Project with USAID and USDS as the Gender and Development Head of the Women and Gender Institute (WAGI). She has conducted research on migration, women’s political participation, trafficking of women and children, sexual and reproductive rights, gender and climate change with such groups as UN Women, UNICEF Philippines, ARROW Malaysia, Oxfam Philippines, and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Women and Children. She holds a Doctoral Degree in Social Development from the University of the Philippines and a Master in Public Administration from the same university. She obtained her BA in International Studies at Miriam College. Currently, she is the Chairperson of the Department of International Studies at Miriam College. She is also a part-time lecturer at the University of the Philippines Open University teaching Women and Development Research.

Attorney Algamar A. Latiph has nearly 21 years progressive career as government lawyer, public administrator, and government consultant. Of these experience, 15 years were as government lawyer and public administrator including as Chairperson of the Regional Human Rights Commission of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (now Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission). The remaining 6 years is as consultant to high-level public officials in the ARMM and BARMM. For more than 10 years (June 2002 to Nov 2012) as Government Corporate Attorney at the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel his duties were: (a) supervising legal departments of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs); (b) draft and prepare legal opinions; (c) review GOCCs contracts; (d) draft legal memorandum for the GOCCs; (f) prepare administrative rules of GOCCs; (g) arbitration and mediation of GOCCs; and (h) legal representation. When he became Chairperson of the RHRC (September 2013 to June 2016), he acquired in-deep knowledge and experience in public administration and policy issues in the BARMM. He successfully implemented grants and projects from European Union, United Nations Development Program, Australian Aid (now Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, and United Nations-Women, to name a few. After his work in the RHRC in 2015, for the past 6 years, he was engaged as consultant to various key executive, policymakers, and agencies in the BARMM on governance, public administration, legislation, and civil service. More than 3 years of which is consultant to the Regional Governor of the ARMM (now Chief Minister) and 4 years consultancy of the President of the Mindanao State University. In the BARMM, Atty. Latiph was engaged by then RHRC, and drafted a bill, namely: Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission Bill which later became Bangsamoro Autonomous Act No. 04—the first office to be established by BARMM. He also drafted the Bangsamoro Sports Commission Bill passed into law by the Parliament. Before the Bangsamoro Organic Law was enacted he was engaged (March 2018 to August 2018) by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process providing legal advice and other substantive inputs on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He also conducted legal research on issues relevant to the BBL. He was engaged by the two Members of the Parliament to reviewed and suggested improvements in the draft Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Civil Service Code, and Bangsamoro Education Code. Apart from the foregoing professional experience, Mr. Latiph is familiar with the context as well as network and familiarity with its incumbent executives, legislators, policymakers, and officials of then BTA as well as civil society organizations within the BARMM.

Mr Assad L. Abdullah Baunto is a respected economist having worked on the policy nexus of development and conflict for 18 years. He served as the Assistant Regional Director of Regional Planning and Development in the ARMM in 2017 until the political transition, and with various local government units and international organizations previously. Assad was a research fellow in monetary and financial economics at Laboratoire d’Analyse et de Prospective Économique in France in 2007. He studied economics with specialization in industry and technology, and economics of education at the University of Oxford (2005), and at University of the Philippines (2002, 2001, and 1998).

Associate Professor Almahdi “Aldean” Alonto has worked with the various international humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organisations and government agencies. He has served as Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension and was Assistant Professor IV of history department at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City. Mr. Alonto obtained his M.A Degree in Conflict Resolution at the University of the Bradford as Chevening Scholar under the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office sponsorship and was a recipient of Oxford Muntada fellowship at the University of Oxford Islamic Studies. He holds M.A. in Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines, Diliman where he also finished his B.A in History. In addition, he has delivered a lecture on “Understanding the Dynamics of Conflict: A Case Study of Mindanao” at the Northern Illinois University Inter-ethnic Dialogue and Conflict Resolution and co-authored an article on “Intra-faith Dialogue: The Missing Link in inter-faith Dialogue” published by Chicago State University in 2007. Former lecturer at the De La Salle University History Department and taught in Libya for 9 years at the University of Misurata, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education. He is currently an Associate Professor at the History Department, of MSU main campus.

The four senior consultants are tasked to do workshop lectures and write policy papers linked to their field of expertise significantly relevant to the Bangsamoro. While Atty. Latiph will create a Bill Drafting Manual.