DAVAO CITY – In a bid to strengthen citizen participation and ensure accountability within the Bangsamoro government, the Bangsamoro Parliament has established the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) as an avenue for citizens to file petitions or complaints against government agencies, ministries, or offices, and effectively address their grievances.
Composed of 25 members, the Blue Ribbon Committee, or the Committee on Government, Accountability of Public Officers, and Investigation, holds jurisdiction over various matters, including the investigation of malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance committed by officers and employees of the Bangsamoro government and Parliament.
The BRC has also decided to expand its jurisdiction to include the Parliament and its political subdivisions in exercising its parliamentary oversight and investigative functions.
Atty. Hisham Nazz Biruar, chief of the Parliament’s Legislative Measures and Legal Assistance Division, highlighted the importance of the committee’s oversight power in the Parliament’s function.
He explained that the primary purpose of the investigations conducted by the committee is to introduce and enact new laws or propose amendments to existing laws.
“While the investigation is not prosecutorial in nature, it serves as a valuable tool in shaping legislation and promoting better governance,” he added.
Atty. Lanang Ali Jr., BRC chair, highlighted the committee’s commitment to bridging the gap between the Parliament and the public, promoting people’s participation, and improving the accessibility of the Parliament to ordinary citizens.
Through the committee’s proposed rule, citizens who are not members of the Parliament will have the opportunity to voice their concerns, file grievances, and actively participate in the governance process.
Atty. Ali also mentioned that private individuals collaborating with Bangsamoro government officials and employees to commit crimes would fall under the committee’s jurisdiction.
“We want the people to know that we are their ally in promoting public accountability and transparency in BARMM and in addressing any form of corruption or misuse of funds in the region,” he said.
To accommodate the expected influx of complaints and inquiries, Atty. Ali acknowledged the need for adequate staffing within the committee. The committee aims to carefully evaluate anonymous complaints, considering their merit, veracity, and the substantive evidence attached to them.
They will then decide whether to proceed with the complaint or refer it to the appropriate ministry for further investigation.
During a two-day roundtable discussion held in Davao City, BRC members finalized the internal rules that will guide their hearings, meetings, inquiries, investigations, and other activities.
The proposal to rename the committee the Hisba Committee was also addressed.
“Hisbah” is an Islamic doctrine that signifies the committee’s commitment to upholding community morals in accordance with Islamic principles.
Meanwhile, Vincent Casil, chief of BTA’s Legislative Research Division, provided insights on how the blue ribbon committee’s petition mechanism could be incorporated.
He said that enabling public engagement would make citizens feel part of the government, leading to an improvement in government services.
Senate Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management Director General Atty. Rodolfo Noel Quimbo also shared best practices for carrying out legislative investigations that could assist the committee in creating its standards.
The committee will reconvene in Cotabato City for the adoption of the finalized internal rules.
The activity was conducted in collaboration with the Suporta sa Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA). (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)