Bangsamoro parliament lauds House for BTA extension bills
MANILA, Philippines — The Parliament of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) of the Bangsamoro Government on Friday commended the House of Representatives after four separate bills were filed seeking to extend the body’s term to three more years starting in May 2022, as per the group’s statement.
The filed bills seek to reset the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) elections from 2022 to either 2025 or 2028.
Antique Representative Loren Legarda filed House Bill 8116 while Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Esmael Mangudadatu turned in HB 8117 both on December 1, 2020.
Leyte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who’s also the House majority leader, filed HB 8161 while Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Khalid Dimaporo was responsible for HB 8222.
BTA Parliament member Atty. Jose Lorena, on Monday, said that the process of normalization, as stated in the 2014 Peace Agreement, should take preference over the political priorities in the region.
Lorena, a former undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), added it’s imperative to decommission and reintegrate the combatants into normal society and allow them to participate in democratic processes like elections and referendums.
He added that about 12,000 of the more than 40,000 armed Moro Islamic Liberation Front members have been decommissioned.
The 12,000 former combatants are still waiting for the implementation of the financial, community livelihood, and scholarship package that the national government committed to them.
Lorena added that leaving the normalization process and shift to political activities for election campaigns would divert plans that the Covid-19 pandemic already altered.
BTA Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong said that there are still several things to be taken care of in the BARMM and the current Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans as the national government, he said, prioritized the health crisis more than anything else.
“Not even the people in Congress who have experienced this kind of legislation will agree that we can finish the task that we are now undertaking,” said Balindong. “So it is logical that we support the transition. This [proposed extension] is not actually our initiative, but we must accept that we need more time in order to accomplish our mandate.”
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