The Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination is hinged on our heritage and history — knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation through narratives that are shared in the privacy of our own homes, and used to be only affirmed in spaces that we share with each other. The education of our people once depended heavily on the survival of our ancestors, and the increased awareness and acknowledgement of our narratives is due to our people’s legacy of tireless persuasion and commitment to education. 

Thanks to the efforts of those who came before us, we now live in a time where we are closer to fulfilling the promise of just and lasting peace in our region. We are, however, confronted with the reality that education has been inaccessible to thousands of children due to our region’s history of conflict and violence. As of 2019, children in 213 barangays in the BARMM do not have access to any learning facility.

It is in this context that a Bangsamoro Education Code can help in institutionalizing our efforts in fulfilling every child’s right to quality and accessible education, making sure that no child is left behind. In doing so, it also recognizes the unique sociocultural context of the Bangsamoro region, where public madaris education and Islamic higher education has always been woven into our people’s consciousness and approach to education. With legislation comes the assurance of legal protections and access to public funding, and this is especially important in securing the livelihood of our madaris teachers, alongside teachers in the public education system. 

I have, however, continuing reservations, just like in the BARMM Civil Service Code, with respect to the removal of third level eligibility requirement, with exceptions, for Schools Division Superintendent and Assistant Schools Division Superintendent pursuant to Civil Service Commission rules and settled jurisprudence in the Philippines. I maintain my position that hiring and retaining the best employees will lay the foundation for developing high performing, competent, and credible civil servants in the Bangsamoro. It has also become our moral responsibility to lead and initiate the professionalization of the civil service in the autonomous region while at the same time, promoting public accountability in government service.

A Bangsamoro Education Code that ensures the “establishment, maintenance, and support of a complete and integrated system of quality education in the Bangsamoro” proves to be urgent and important, and its passage today will be a welcome development in our ongoing political transition. 

I would like to particularly recognize the efforts of our colleagues, Education Minister MP Mohagher Iqbal and MP Atty. Ras Mitmug, for leading the Parliament in this exercise. The pluralistic approach and the consultations conducted have all been beneficial to the enhancement of a Code that is in the interest of the Bangsamoro people. 

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to cast my affirmative vote. Because with this measure comes my hope that every child in the Bangsamoro can access knowledge not only in the privacy of our own homes, but also in public institutions that are built and maintained for every child who dreams of a better and brighter future.