By Mark Navales
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The key stakeholders of the settler communities, mostly coming from the Christians for Peace Movement composed of the Institutional Churches in the Bangsamoro, gathered for a direction setting and strategic planning for the newly constituted Office for the Settler Communities (OSC-BARMM) in the Bangsamoro on October 4-6, 2021 at Greenleaf Hotel, General Santos City, Philippines.
Edgardo B. Ramirez, the first ever appointed Office Executive Director by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod ‘Alhaj Murad’ B. Ebrahim, and lead convenor of the Christians for Movement, said, “The activity was very critical to jumpstart the Office operation as an attached agency to the Office of the Chief Minister.”
“The Office serves as the primary agency responsible in promoting the welfare and addressing the issues and concerns of Christian dominated settlers’ communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Ramirez added.
In his opening message, Chief Minister Alhaj Murad Ebrahim, expressed that the Office operationalization is another chapter of the BARMM.
“Being a political infrastructure working for inclusive and moral governance, as chief Minister, my leadership consciously makes its effort to engage all peoples, ethnics and sectors in governance of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region”. Murad said.
His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD, on his part, manifested his appreciation to the BARMM government leadership in constituting the Office through the appointment of Prof. Ramirez to head the Office.
“l challenged the participants to look into reality on how can the Office facilitate a productive dynamic among the settler communities and the other peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao”. Quevedo said.
The three-day direction setting and planning is a foundational activity the OSC-BARMM and a concrete manifestation of the commitment for the collaboration and partnership among the OSC-BARMM, Church Institutions, Christian dominated local government units in the BARMM, International Organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as part of its Office’s organizational development and capacity building being a newly created Office.
The Office for Settler Communities is mandated to ensure that settlers enjoy the rights guaranteed to them by the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Constitution, and all other laws as may be enacted by the Bangsamoro Parliament.
The Office has the following powers and function based on the Bangsamoro Autonomy Act No. 13, otherwise known as the Bangsamoro Administrative Code:
- Provide advice and assistance to the Chief Minister in the formulation, coordination, implementation, and monitoring of policies, plans, programs, and projects affecting settler communities;
- Coordinate with concerned ministries, agencies, and other offices, when necessary, in the performance of its function;
- Act as the primary agency for coordination with Settler Communities for the purpose of raising their concerns requiring assistance from the Bangsamoro Government, and as the primary agency for coordination with relevant ministries and agencies of the Bangsamoro;
- When necessary, provide additional support to ministries, agencies, and offices in implementing programs and projects assistance in relation to Settler Communities; and
- Perform other functions as may be provided by law or assigned by the Chief Minister. Mark Navales