NGOs, religious leaders ask Congress to hasten OK of BTA extension
ILIGAN CITY –– Muslim religious leaders and nongovernment organizations in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces have asked Congress to prioritize the approval of a law extending by another three years the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Alim Saad L. Amate, national president of the United Imams of the Philippines Foundation, said the matter of extending the Bangsamoro transition is an urgent one as the filing of candidacies for the 2022 general elections would happen in less than 10 months.
Already, Antique Rep. Loren Legarda and Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu have filed, respectively, House Bills 8116 and 8117. Both measures were referred to the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer.
In its legislative calendar for the second regular session, the 18th Congress has about 70 session days starting next week until it adjourns on June 25, 2021.
The BTA serves as the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which came into legal existence in February last year following a plebiscite that ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Saying it lacked time to work on the transition milestones and priorities set out in the BOL, the interim Bangsamoro parliament passed a resolution last month urging Congress to extend the transition process by another three years.
The regional parliament also cited the shortfalls in the implementation of agreed normalization measures, especially the decommissioning of combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Three years is insufficient,” Amate said, citing the collective position of the religious leaders who come from the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City.
In another declaration, civil society groups also urged Congress to legislate soonest the extension of the Bangsamoro transition “so that the milestones and priorities outlined in the BOL will be sufficiently carried out.”
“Allowing more time for post-conflict measures to be undertaken deepens the foundations of peace in the region,” read the statement of 15 groups in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, among them, Pakigdait Inc. and Kalimudan Foundation Inc.
They said the success of the Bangsamoro transition “underpins the hope of building lasting peace in our communities.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.