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Intergovernmental Relations Bodies and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: A Policy Brief

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Intergovernmental Relations Bodies and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: A Policy Brief

This Policy Brief was produced with the generous financial support
of Global Affairs Canada and produced by the Forum of Federations

through the Supporting Decentralized and Inclusive Governance in the

Philippines Programme. The views expressed here are those of the

author and do not reflect the views of the Canadian Government.

Autonomy can be a useful tool to resolve conflict between different groups within a
country. As a mechanism to accommodate demands for self-governance it can help

maintain peace. Yet granting formal autonomy is only the first step. Filling autonomy with

life is the second necessary step. But achieving genuine self-governance is also a major

challenge. Making autonomy work requires regional capacity and appropriate financial

resources. Moreover, autonomy is contingent on a sound relationship between national

and regional authorities.

However carefully designed the autonomous status of a region is, there will necessarily be
jurisdictional overlaps. A range of matters may fall within the concern or responsibility of

both the autonomous region and the national government, requiring their coordination.

This is the case when the autonomous region administers national law, the national

government and the region exercise concurrent powers, or when issues cut across

jurisdictions. The scope and design of autonomy is often an ongoing process and may need

to be revisited regularly. Therefore, intergovernmental relations (IGR) are an important

aspect of how autonomy operates in practice.

The main challenge is to ensure that the national government respects regional autonomy.
It must not impose rules and regulations on matters of regional jurisdiction, nor must it

change policymaking powers and financial endowments unilaterally. Therefore, national

authorities and regional authorities should work together as partners—which requires

strong and effective intergovernmental bodies.

The Bangsamoro Administrative Code stipulates that IGR will be based on mutual respect,

the recognition of (regional and national) authority, and the acceptance of interdependence.

Whether these principles will be adhered to depends on how intergovernmental structures


Carefully designed intergovernmental structures provide a framework in which national
and regional authorities can collaborate as partners in respect of their autonomy. A setting

in which the national government can dictate how regional affairs are conducted, treating

regional authorities as its agents, must be avoided. Formal structures of IGR are most

successful if supported by informal relations, both at the political and administrative level.

Parliamentary scrutiny is another contributor to success since it fosters transparency and


This policy brief reviews the newly created intergovernmental structures and examines
their potential to achieve genuine self-governance in the Bangsamoro Autonomous