February 8, 2021. Moral Governance has become the call of the BARMM in carrying the responsibility of governing and serving the Bangsamoro, and towards the change that the Bangsamoro Government aspired for its people and territory.
“Moral governance means that the acts of the Bangsamoro Government must be legal and legitimate; its policy-making rational and deliberative; it is responsible to its people and ensures checks, balances and accountability to them. In other words, a government composed of public servants- in its real sense. Servants who are prepared to sacrifice their well-being for the well-being of the people whom they serve.”
This was how moral governance was defined based on the Keynote Speech of BARMM Interim Chief Minister Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, delivered by Assistant Regional Cabinet Secretary Atty. Ayla Herazade E. Salendab, during the Kaakbay Kapayapaan: Civil Society Peace and Solidarity Assembly on 25 November 2019.
On the call for moral governance, one relevant strategy that was believed to be helpful is the values transformation training (popularly known as VTT). It is a flagship program of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) since inception as an organization. BDA is the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and a duly registered non-government organization since 2019.
VTT is designed to inculcate values towards personality and spiritual development. The training has been a powerful instrument for the BDA to organize, mobilize, strengthen and sustain its pool of volunteers and people. It has been integrated to all other projects and programs of BDA propagating the message of peace through the teaching of Universal values and importance of faith.
It was in May 2019 when BARMM, particularly the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) reached out to BDA to share topics on VTT during the Values Orientation Workshop (VOW) conducted by the Civil Service Commission-BARMM.
On October 2019, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG-BARMM) tapped BDA to facilitate VTT that was then integrated to the training course program intended for the future Municipal Local Government Operations Officer (MLGOO).
By December 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR-BARMM), contracted the BDA to facilitate VTT to its employees at the ministry.
Believing further to the relevance of VTT, the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESD, formerly TESDA in ARMM) under the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the BDA for the agency to manage the values training for the scholars of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) across BARMM.
That year, thousands of TVET scholars composed of youth, women and men, from different religion and faith learned and were enlightened about the importance of values towards personality development and spiritual appreciation/ practice.
VTT has then become popular in almost TESD- accredited trainings centers in all the five provinces of BARMM. This significant development continued until 2021. The same year when BARMM officially recognized the VTT to be instrumental in pursuit of moral governance through the Development Academy of the Bangsamoro (DAB), wherein series of meetings were happening between the latter and the BDA to agree on the modalities of implementing VTT in BARMM.
From this, various offices in BARMM through the DAB requested BDA to facilitate VTT for their respective employees. Participants all expressed words of appreciation and commitment to change after joining VTT.
VTT is also relevant to the group of decommissioned combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who are undergoing transition from decades of being involved in war into normal civilian life. Values training for these combatants is in partnership with the Non- violent Peaceforce, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP), and the Task Force for the Decommissioned Combatants (TFDCC).
It is recorded that there were 357 (in 12 batches) of decommissioned combatants who underwent VTT in 2021.
A responsibility and honor for BDA
Managing the VTT, especially that it is inspired by the support to the moral governance is indeed a great responsibility and honor to BDA Inc. As an agency created out of the peace process, facilitating VTT is privilege for the BDA Inc. as it is committed to remain functional during the transition in the Bangsamoro.
Handling values training for the employees of BARMM means trust and confidence to the capacity of the BDA Inc. thus pushed the agency to firm up institutional policies, direction and support related to the management of VTT. For the BDA Inc., managing VTT is a fruit of over a decade of volunteerism, especially for the pool of trainers who have been developed to deliver the topics on values training, effectively, efficiently and faithfully.
It is an honor that BDA Inc. can share the best practice on VTT that has been a strong foundation of the agency to remain standing as organization operating in the context of conflict and now, with the development era in the Bangsamoro. The VTT that is in line with the guiding principle “change must begin with one’s self” (“Verily, Allaah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves [al-Ra’d 13:11])