BARMM needs stronger regional information arm

Punchline

By Ali G. Macabalang

The desire to nourish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) governance in its state of infancy towards ideal adulthood requires a comprehensive and aggressive promotion campaign, which be handled by no less than a line agency that may be called Ministry of Information.

BARMM is the haven of majority Moro people, who are still reeling from Spanish colonizers’ hyped claim that “only dead Moro is a good Moro.” Sadly, many non-Muslim Filipinos still think the way the Spaniards thought about the present Moro people.

Mainstream media reports about terrorism, feudal politics, instances of corruption, and pervasion of pride (maratabat) leading to bloody clannish conflicts (rido), among others, in the Bangsamoro are compounding outside people’s negative perception of the regional populace.

The need for Bangsamoro Parliament to legislate the creation of a strong Ministry of Information cannot be overemphasized.

During the first three years of existence of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Office of the Region Governors (ORG) had settled for just a Media Affairs Division (MAD) to handle information campaign, advertently or inadvertently forgetting that the region was fledgling sans power over the operations of national media arms like the PNA and the PIA local operations.

In 1994, the fourth year of ARMM, the MDA was elevated to what is now known as Bureau of Public Information (BPI) through an Executive Order we drafted when I was recruited to handle the regional information campaign.

I batted for the creation of a department-level information office but I was told it was not possible because the ORG or the Regional Legislative Assembly could not allocate regular funds for its operations.

During my two-time stewardship of the BPI, our personnel services and operations largely relied on local revenues. But despite the fund handicap, were able to create and sustain provincial coordinators in the component provinces and cities.

Since BARMM governance is enjoying fiscal autonomy and allocated regular budget plus huge block grant, the BTA Parliament should create a Ministry of Information that truly operates region-wide in replacement of the BPI.

Parliament members can invite me and other seasoned media workers to help them draft an enabling bill. (AGM) 

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