Bangsamoro Asssembly postponed to “third week of November”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Oct) — The Bangsamoro Assembly scheduled November 3 and 4 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao has been reset to “third week of November” due to “reasons beyond our control,” Ghazali Jaafar, chair of the Bnagsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) announced.

“We regret to inform you that due to reasons beyond our control, the said Bangsamoro Assembly has to be postponed,” Ghazali Jaafar, the MILF’s 1st Vice Chair and chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), said in a press statement.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (3rd from left) at the Malacañan Palace on 4 September 2017. With Murad are MILF peace implementing panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Ghazali Jaafar. Presidential photo courtesy of RENE LUMAWAG

Jaafar did not divulge the reason but MindaNews sources said President Rodrigo Duterte, the Assembly’s guest of honor, will not be available until after November 18, after he hosts the ASEAN Summit.

The BTC is the joint government-MILF body that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and is convening the Bangsamoro Assembly.

Jaafar said new dates are still being determined “but at this point we are already looking at the third week of November 2017.”

He said they will immediately send out notices once the date is final.

The BTC, according to Executive Order No. 8 issued on November 7 last year, is mandated, among others, to draft the BBL; whenever necessary, recommend to Congress or the people proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution; and “convene an inclusive Bangsamoro Assembly as a consultative body to discuss the proposed BBL.”

It it also mandated to “spearhead the conduct of dialogues and discussions with the public on the Bangsamoro peace process.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does the peace sign as he poses for a photo with members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law and submitted it to him on July 17, 2017 at the Rizal Hall in in Malacañan Palace. Rolando Mailo / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The 21-member BTC, composed of 11 members nominated by the MILF and 10 by government, submitted its draft BBL to President Duterte on July 27, in the presence of Senate President Aquilino Pimentell III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

But it took Malacanang a month before it forwarded the draft bill to the two houses of Congress. The two houses took more than one month before the draft BBL was finally enrolled as a bill.

The Duterte Administration’s Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap targeted December this year for the passage of the BBL, to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The creation of the Bangsamoro is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by government and MILF on March 27, 2014.

Dccember 2017 was targeted for the passage of the BBL because the ARMM elections is set for May 2019, or 17 months later.

It takes at least six months for the Commission on Elections to prepare for the plebiscite that will ratify the Bangsamoro law and at least a year’s transition period was agreed upon by government and the MILF. Carolyn O. Arguilas / MindaNews)