Duterte retains members of interim Bangsamoro body
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer reorganize the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The Security, Justice and Peace Cabinet Cluster (SJPCC), in a statement on Friday, said it recommended for the president to maintain the current composition of the 80-member BTA, and it was approved by the President on February 21.
The statement was signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.
The BTA was supposed to end its institutional life on June 30 this year, after the regular members of the BARMM parliament would have been elected during the national and local elections on May 9.
But Congress postponed the regional elections to 2025, extending the BTA by three more years.
Under Republic Act No. 11593, which Duterte signed on October 28, 2021, the BTA will continue to be the BARMM’s interim government during the extended transition period.
However, the president has the option to appoint new members.
When the BTA was organized following the approval of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the BARMM’s Charter, in January 2019, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had 41 nominees while the government had 39.
BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, who also chairs the MILF peace implementing panel, told the Inquirer last year that during meetings with Mr. Duterte, they deferred to the wisdom of the President in deciding if he would reorganize the interim body.
This possibility has driven a mad race for appointment, especially for seats of government nominees.
Omar Yasser Sema, deputy speaker of the interim Bangsamoro Parliament and among the 10 Moro National Liberation Front members in the BTA, said they welcomed the President’s approval of the SJPCC recommendation as it would ensure continuity and consistency in the implementation of Bangsamoro program and allow for the stability in a region until 2025.
The SJPCC said keeping the current BTA membership was one way of “building on and sustaining the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process.”
“Undoubtedly, the BTA has over the past two years played an instrumental role in uplifting the lives of the Bangsamoro people and unleashing the economic potential of the region,” the four Cabinet officials noted.
“Given these major accomplishments, its current membership must not only be given due recognition, but must also be given the chance to complete what it has started,” they added.
But the Cabinet officials hinted that there could be new appointments for seats reserved for the MILF.
“The President also approved the 41 MILF nominees for the BTA as submitted by BARMM [interim] Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim,” the SJPCC statement said.
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