Bill seeking to postpone 1st BARMM polls now up for Senate deliberations
MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to postpone for three years the first regular elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) initially set in 2022 has reached the Senate plenary for deliberations.
Senator Francis Tolentino, chairperson of the Senate local government committee, on Thursday endorsed for plenary approval Senate Bill No. 2214, which aims to replace the year of the first regular BARMM elections from the year 2022 to 2025.
In rescheduling the year of the elections, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be given more time to perform its mandate considering that the pandemic posed “significant challenges” on the accomplishment of its priority programs and projects.
“The global pandemic we are facing has posed significant challenges on the accomplishment of the priority programs and projects of the BTA, as it has for the national government as a whole,” Tolentino said in his sponsorship speech.
“Development projects had to take a back seat to the formulation and implementation of an effective response to the global health crisis,” he added.
While Tolentino acknowledged the strides accomplished by the BTA, he said it has yet to complete its tasks under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which was enacted in 2018.
“Thus, we are faced with the question of the propriety of extending the BTA term,” he said.
“COVID-19 contributed to the delay, among others, in the execution of the plans of the Bangsamoro government, responding to the impact of COVID-19 has been a challenge in the BTA and all government leaders,” he added.
However, Tolentino stressed that the passage of the bill “does not in any way condone even the slightest bit less inefficiency in public service.
“As public servants, we must work to ensure that we inspire confidence and patriotic hope, especially those who are residing in the Bangsamoro region,” he said.
“This piece of legislation is a testament to our continued efforts to maintain peace and push for inclusive growth in the BARMM region. This is elusive, but it is attainable,” he added.
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