Measure resetting Bangsamoro elections nears enactment
ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte, Philippines — Just two weeks before the filing of candidacies for the 2022 national elections, the proposal to postpone the parliamentary polls in the Bangsamoro region has moved closer to becoming law.
On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill No. 10121 resetting the regional elections from 2022 to 2025.
This would extend the life of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the provisional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which was created under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in keeping with the peace agreement between the government and the erstwhile rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Inaugurated in March 2019, the 80-member BTA has 41 members nominated by the MILF while 39 were government nominees. All were appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte after the BOL was ratified in a plebiscite that saw Cotabato City and 63 villages in Cotabato province joining the autonomous region.
MILF chief Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim was also appointed Duterte as the BARMM’s interim chief minister.
HB 10121 is a substitute for the versions filed by Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, Capiz Rep. Loren Legarda, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
“We thank the leadership of the House, and in particular Representative Mangudadatu, for his perseverance in guiding this process, and for Congress in taking this important step toward ensuring that the legacy of peace is sustained in the Bangsamoro,” said Bangsamoro Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo.
Sinarimbo is confident that the measure will sail through the next steps in the legislative process.
“What is left is merely the ceremonial third and final reading to complete the process in the House of Representatives,” he added.
The Senate passed the measure on Sept. 6, embodied in Senate Bill No. 2214.
The House and Senate versions of the measure are identical, which means there will no longer be a need to reconcile them, hastening the legislative process.
The BTA leadership has asked Duterte and Congress last year to extend the transition period by another three years in order to give enough time to lay down the foundations of effective autonomous governance in the region which was greatly affected by the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
—WITH A REPORT FROM NESTOR CORRALES
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