Development planning will be one of the crucial powers to be exercised by the proposed Bangsamoro government, and experts agree that the implementation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) should involve different stakeholders, from the national government agencies down to local Muslim religious leaders. While the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is still being reviewed by Congress, the BDP was already
formulated to ensure a smooth transition. (See infographics.) “When the new Bangsamoro government is formed, it can immediately start delivering for the Bangsamoro people and be a working government from day one,” wrote the BPD primer.

The BDP is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. According to the BDP Integrative Report, the BDP’s technical recommendations were “formulated by thematic experts, validated at the ground level, and complemented by Community Visioning Exercises (CVEs) that were conducted to define the vision, needs and aspirations, and sources of dissatisfaction across the Bangsamoro.” According to its primer, the BDP includes “short- and medium term vision, strategy, and recommendations for the socioeconomic recovery and development of the Bangsamoro during the transition years (2015 to mid-2016) and after the installation of the new Bangsamoro government (mid-2016 and beyond).”

Maria Lourdes Lim, regional director of NEDA Regional Office XI in Davao, said that while the administration and development management will ultimately rest on the new Bangsamoro government, it is still imperative for national government agencies, such as NEDA, to be involved in the BDP’s implementation to ensure that this is consistent with the overall national plan. “Development activities should always be about the strengthening of institutions and building of local capacity appropriate for the local context. It will not help if those wanting to help do so with very little regard for how things are done that are culturally acceptable,” said Usec. Luisito Montalbo, Executive Director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Amina Rasul, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), emphasized the need to involve the Ulamas, or local Muslim religious leaders, as village champions in the development transformation of the Bangsamoro.

Citing a purposive survey by the PCID published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in 2013, Rasul said that 89 percent of respondents in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) trust the Ulamas, making them the most influential people at the village level.

“For instance, we have seen the value given by the Catholic Church and the Christian churches when it comes to education, humanitarian services, even microfinance. The more this is impressed upon by
the Ulama to the Bangsamoro people, the more sustainable our economic development becomes,” she said.

All of them agreed that inclusive development in Bangsamoro will be attained if stakeholders continue to trust each other in the process of transforming institutions and implementing social programs addressed to the poor. As Rasul concluded, “The best development plan, the best peace agreement is nothing but a piece of paper if it is not implemented so that all the stakeholders benefit from it.”