Calls to extend BARMM interim government gain support

By : Bobby Lagsa Mindanao Today/11:58:02am 07/19/2021


(Note: This news article was published in the print edition of Mindanao Today on June 25, 2021)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Thousands of Bangsamoro people flocked to the streets across Mindanao to call the national government to extend the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) until to 2025.

BTA extension unity caravans were held simultaneously across Mindanao on Wednesday, June 23, with rallies held in Cotabato City, the seat of power of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Caravans were also conducted in Maguindanao, Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur provinces, and in the cities of Marawi, Iligan, Zamboanga, and Cagayan de Oro.

Similar events were also held in Tacurong and Kidapawan City, M’lang, and other towns in the Cotabato province.

In Lanao del Norte, the caravan started in Iligan and passed through Lanao del Norte, through Malabang, Lanao del Sur, and back to Iligan City.

In Cagayan de Oro, close to 50 vehicles joined the caravan, which came from Marawi to this city.

The city’s Roads and Traffic Administration provided escorts from the Lumbia airfield to Barangay Bugo and Back to Opol where the convoy will meet back in Iligan.

Civil society organization Movement for Moral Governance (MMG), on its social media page, listed closed to 13,000 vehicles that joined the caravan across Mindanao.

MMG coordinated the registration of vehicles for the Extend BTA caravan.

The BTA is the interim regional government of the BARMM and has executive and legislative powers over the area after the referendum election was held in 2019.

The BTA is headed by Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, better known as Al-hajj Murad Ebrahim, a key leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the revolutionary group that signed an agreement with the government which led to the creation of the BARMM.

Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the BTA is to be organized pending the election of the new region's government officials in 2022.

However, the BTA is falling behind on what it sets out to do in the political and decommissioning objectives.

The BTA was able to pass three of the priority legislations – the Education, Civil Code and Administrative Code.

According the lawyer Salahudin Bin Hamza, chief of staff of Member of Parliament Abdulla “Commander Bravo” Makapaar, there is a need for the national government to extend the BTA for it to be able to address what it sets out to do.

“Three years for the BTA is too short for it to address what it is required to achieve,” Hamza said.

Congress have missed out pass House Bill 8277, which aims to reset the election of the BTA to 2025, is still pending in congress. HB 8277 was authored by Rep. Isidro Ungab.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM interior government minister, urges President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the BTA.

“We call on President Duterte to certify as urgent the bills extending the period of transition,” Sinarimbo said in a Facebook post.

“We must never lose sight of the narrative that at the core of the issue of extension of the BTA and the period of transition is about implementing a peace agreement that we all work so hard to achieve. It is not about the petty local politics of 2022 or of the presidential elections in 2022. This is about implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” Sinarimbo added.

Member of Parliament Zia Adiong also asked Duterte to certify as an urgent bill the proposed amendatory law to BOL extending the term of the Transition period in order to secure not only the legacy of his administration but the progress and for the ultimate success of the peace process.

Dr. Rahib Kudto, president of the civil society organization United Youth for Peace and Development, Inc. (UNYPAD), in a statement said that his group recognizes Duterte’s effort in resolving the age-old Bangsamoro problem.

UNYPAD is the largest Bangsamoro youth organization in the Philippines.

“We also support his peace legacy in Mindanao through establishing the foundation of meaningful autonomous government for the Bangsamoro,” Kudto said.

“We believe that extending the BTA from 2022 to 2025 is indispensable. Granting BTA another 3 years will allow members of the parliament to have ample time for the passage of priority bills that are vital for the realization of moral governance in the region,” he added.

Kudot said that BTA extension would sustain the gains of the peace process, as it will ensure full implementation of the peace agreements signed between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Fronts.

“We are appealing to the President to certify the Bill as urgent. We are calling upon the House and Senate to fast track the deliberation of the Bills that will effectively extend the Bangsamoro transition period and sustain the gains of the peace process,” he said.

BARMM officials lead by Ibrahim, along with governors of the provinces under BARMM, arrives in Manila Wednesday to meet with Duterte.

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