Covid-19 in the Bangsamoro (Part 1 of 2)

This five-episode podcast was produced by UrbanisMO.PH and Young Public Servants with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) and PCIJ.

BY AARON MALLARI WITH ICA FERNANDEZ / Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

What’s the big picture? The concentration of Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila and surrounding regions means the pandemic response might be uneven across the country. But places like the Bangsamoro autonomous region need extra resources to control the outbreak, and ill-conceived programs aren’t helping. Bangsamoro leaders, for instance, have to deal with returning overseas workers, some of them asymptomatic virus carriers, who were repatriated from their host countries and shipped back to their home provinces under the ‘Balik-Probinsya’ and ‘Hatid Probinsya’ programs. This is Part 1 of a two-part series titled ‘Covid-19 outside NCR: The Experience of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.’

Why it matters: The ability of localities to absorb the influx of returning migrant workers without compromising the health of their home communities is crucial to ensuring the effectiveness of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the facts? Bangsamoro ministers Naguib Sinarimbo and Laisa Masuhud Alamia discuss how the pandemic response has become one of the region’s biggest challenges to date, as it transitions to a parliamentary government that is autonomous, but somewhat still reliant on the national government. Prof. Rufa Guiam, an expert on governance and inclusion, weighs in on how the pandemic and the Bangsamoro government’s ability to deal with it is crucial to the peace process. 

The bottomline: Covid-19 is a test of governance for the Bangsamoro autonomous region, whose success is essential to achieving peace and prosperity in Mindanao.