Duterte OK to extend BARMM transition – Galvez
President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to support calls of Bangsamoro leaders to extend the transition period for the new region to three more years after it lapses in 2022, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Thursday.
Galvez told the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity on Thursday that the President had sought his opinion on the possible extension of the Bangsamoro transition period.
“I said to him (Mr. Duterte), being the chief implementer, we saw the difficulty of the implementation of the normalization and political track. Therefore, as the Opapp (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) head, I recommended that the request for extension be given due consideration, considering that the transition of three years is really a very short time,” Galvez said.
Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will serve as interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until a regular set of officials elected in the 2022 elections assume office.
Mr. Duterte appointed the BTA’s 80 members after the BOL was ratified in February last year.
Extending the BTA’s life will require Congress to amend the BOL provision setting the schedule of the first regular election for BARMM officials for 2022.
The interim Bangsamoro parliament earlier asked Congress to extend the transition period for another three years or until 2025.
“President Duterte also believes that three years is too short and he agrees for the possible extension,” Galvez said.
“If we want this transition to be successful, we have to give our brothers ample time to lay down the foundation. Realistically, we cannot achieve this in three years,” he added.
Former presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said the BTA needed more time “to bring about the Bangsamoro dream.”
“There is need for more time to improve the lives of the Bangsamoro so they will at least savor, however small and initial, the benefits of their struggle. Development is a must,” Dureza, former chair of the government panel in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said in a social media post this week.
Dureza pointed to the need to build the governance capacity of Bangsamoro leaders as reason for extending the transition process.
He said the decommissioning of MILF combatants also needed “careful balancing work” as some of them might not be willing to give up their firearms if private armed groups, terrorists, criminals and warlords were still around in their communities.
As of September, 12,000 of the 40,000 regular fighters of the MILF had been decommissioned.
Bangsamoro Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, who is also chair of the MILF’s peace implementing panel, said that with 19 months to go in the transition period, about 70 percent of objectives laid out in the BOL had yet to be accomplished.
These include the implementation of transitional justice, disbandment of private armed groups, decommissioning, amnesty and pardon, and the organization of the police force for the Bangsamoro, Iqbal said.
On Monday, Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim and other BARMM officials met with President Duterte and several Cabinet members in Davao City to discuss issues relating to the transition process. —NESTOR CORRALES AND TAHER G. SOLAIMAN