Forty four (44) civil society organization (CSO) leaders converged in an assembly dubbed as “CBCS-CSO Kutawato Clustered Provinces Assembly” held in Cotabato City on Wednesday with a theme: “Promoting Peace and Good Governance in BARMM: Milestones, Opportunities and Challenges in the Bangsamoro.” The Kutawato Clustered areas cover Cotabato City, Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Bukidnon.

The activity is part of restructuring and strengthening process of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in aim to be responsive and effective in its accompaniment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in laying the foundation of moral governance in the Bangsamoro.

Atty. Raissa H. Jajurie, Minister of the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) and Deputy Majority Floor Leader of the Bangsamoro Parliament apprised the participants with the current political issues in the Bangsamoro. She said that for the year 2019 to 2020, the parliament already enacted 10 important Bills and around 70 Resolutions containing major concerns and issues in the Bangsamoro. She also stressed that their priority concerns in the parliament is enactment of the “seven priority codes” which are lined for completion a year before 2022 election comes.

Minister Jajurie, however stressed some constraints especially on budget releases as far as the year 2020 is concerned. The national government divided the block-grant into 12 monthly equal allocation. Nonetheless as of date, they only received around 48% of the total amount they are supposed to receive.

On the other hand, Dr. Danda Juanday, Cotabato City Administrator talked on the “Impact of COVID-19 and the New Normal on socio-economic life of the Bagsamoro”. He discussed the detail of the Cotabato City Government programs in response to the campaign against the spread of the virus in the city which sometimes misunderstood by some people. He stressed that the strict implementation in the city is not a pure initiatives of the local government officials as it has bases in Islam. The meaning of one Hadith that when an epedimic such as this pandemic says: “When you are in a place of epidemic do not go out of it and when you are out do not enter a place where there is epidemic.”

He appeal to the CSO leaders to be a bridge for understanding rather than be tool for division, stressing that the past controversies involving the Cotabato City Local Government and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region was consequence of weak communication and poor coordination.

The two resources persons also interacted with the prevailing political concerns on Bangsamoro Governance and their respective responses to COVID-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, the situational input was further deepened by the input given by CBCS Chair Mr. Guiamel Alim who dealt with “Overall Socio-Political Landscape from CSO Perspective”. He started by reminding the participants of a real meaning of civil society organization, that is to operate outside the influence of the 3 pillars of state. Prominent among them is the challenge on good governance and much of a “moral governance” in the Bangsamoro coupled with the adverse effect of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and living with the “New Normal”.

Finally, the participants given ample time during the “Plenary Session” where they decided among themselves to discuss how will they constitute themselves into a mechanism that is flexible and responsive in preparation for the future engagement with the Bangsamoro Government?

The plenary decided to form the “Kutawato Cluster CBCS-CSO Convener Group” and under consensus decision-making selected Mr, Nasser Pulindao of FBCSO as Lead Convener and Archie Buaya of C-DORM as Co-Convener. It was agreed that all the CSO leaders who attended the assembly becomes the new composition of the former Kutawato Regional Management Committee as replaced by the convener type of operation to serve as implementing mechanism of CBCS in all its program and projects in their coverage areas.

The assembly closed with signing of a statement/declaration containing urgent issues prevailing in their coverage areas to be submitted for action by appropriate agencies of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).