The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) together with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Philippines and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) conducted a two-day conference titled, ​”Comparative Parliamentary Systems: Processes, Organization and Bureaucracy” at the Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City on July 09-10, 2019. Focused to also help the BTA in crafting an Administrative Code, the seminar-workshop provided a platform to explore various parliamentary systems and experiences around the world. It sought to help the Parliament not just in drafting the Code, but also in shaping its own parliamentary rules and customs.

Member of Parliament Atty. Jose Lorena formally opened the discussion with a message from Speaker Atty. Ali Pangalian Balindong. As chair of ad hoc Committee on Administrative Code, MP Lorena stressed the need for a context-specific bureaucratic structure formulated based on Bangsamoro history, values and political culture. Establishing such structure will allow the BARMM Government, in and beyond its interim status, to highlight its own political identity.

Among the resource persons gathered by the forum was legal specialist Cheryl Saunders of the Melbourne Law School, an expert in constitutional law and comparative public law. Banking on her knowledge and experience on federalism, intergovernmental relations, and constitutional design and change, the professor presented an analysis on various parliamentary governments across the globe, with emphasis on the Australian paradigm. On the other hand, Professor Stefan Jost, KAS representative in the Philippines, shared the history and dynamics of the Bundestag, the German Parliament.

Dr. Edna Estifania Co, Professor of Public Administration of UP Diliman, supplemented the discussion with an analysis of a parliamentary set-up under a unitary system. Emphasis was given on the necessity of an immediate capacity-building for the members of the BTA. Her discussion was followed by a workshop where the members of the BTA and some of their staff were asked to break out into groups and discuss specific societal concerns regarding elections, education and health which the BTA can address through relevant legislation.

Former Speaker of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) Atty. Rasol Mitmug also shared RLA experiences, citing key differences between the previous council and newly-constituted Parliament. The session was also attended by representatives from the House of Representatives. Atty. Arlene Dada-Arnaldo, the HOR’s Deputy Secretary General, offered a parallel analogy on the Batasang Pambansa under the 1973 Constitution while Director Jennifer Baquiran of Committee on Rules presented the parliamentary rules and procedures of the Philippine Congress. Atty. Noel Garong of the Reference and Research Bureau also facilitated a discussion on the fundamentals of bill drafting.

On the part of the BARMM, MP Baintan Adil Ampatuan, as Vice-Chairperson of the Administrative Committee, further expounded on the mandate of the BTA under the BOL and the Philippine Constitution and presented a comparison of the legislative and executive structures and practices of the ARMM and the BARMM BTA. Minority Leader Atty. Laisa M. Alamia also added a brief discussion on the bill drafting process under the BOL. MP Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman also discussed the main features of the BOL, particularly on the constitution of an Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGR) with members coming from both the Philippine Congress and the Bangsamoro Government. The IGR, she said, will conduct regular consultations and continuing negotiations in all matters affecting both the National Congress and the Bangsamoro Parliament.

In pursuit of a functioning autonomy, the BTA recognizes the assistance that the National Government and other development partners extend to them. There is a need to understand the principles and values of a parliamentary system in order to set a framework that will work best for the BARMM’s legislative arm.