Where will the 80-member BTA plus 25 holdovers hold sessions and offices?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Feb) — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the 80-member body that will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the three-year transition until June 30, 2022, will take their oath this week and will begin work as soon as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) turns over the region to the transition government on February 25. But where will the BTA hold sessions and offices?

RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao provides for an 80-member BTA that will govern the region until June 30, 2022 when the first set of officials elected on May 9, 2022 shall have taken their oath and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) shall have been inaugurated. But the law also provides that the 25 elected ARMM officials – Governor, Vice Governor, and the 23 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly (24 were elected but one died in office) – “shall automatically become members” of the BTA until noon of June 30, 2019, when their three-year terms shall have expired.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the Peace Assembly on January 18, 2019 held at the 480-seater Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in the compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The SKCC will be the venue for sessions of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, in the meantime. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Until June 30, the BTA will have a maximum of 105 members – 80 members appointed by the President and 25 elected ARMM officials. “Maximum” because some RLA members may be appointed as regular members of the BTA and will thus serve beyond June 30.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which will lead the BTA, has nominated Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to be the Interim Chief Minister. Murad can take over the office of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and preside over Cabinet meetings at the Badjao Hall, where Hataman holds Cabinet meetings.

The ARMM has a Cabinet of 24 primary departments. The expanded Cabinet, which includes the smaller agencies, has 45. Chairs and tables are added in the Badjao Hall during expanded Cabinet meetings, said Amir Mawallil, ARMM Information Office chief.

According to RA 11054, the BARMM’s Interim Cabinet shall be composed of 15 primary ministries with sub-offices, namely: Finance, and Budget and Management; Social Services;
Trade, Investments, and Tourism; Labor and Employment;
Transportation and Communications; Basic, Higher and Technical Education; Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs; Health;
Public Works;
Local Government;
Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy; Human Settlements and Development;
Science and Technology;
Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform; and Public Order and Safety.

But where will the 105 BTA members hold sessions and offices until June 30, 2019 and beyond that, the 80-member BTA?

The plenary hall of the ARMM’s RLA is a small session hall. It accommodates 24 members of the RLA at three each from the eight congressional districts of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi. Offices are provided for 24 assemblymen.

MindaNews asked Hataman which venue in the ARMM compound could accommodate sessions for 80 members. He cited the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC).

The SKCC can definitely accommodate 105 members and their staff. But the SKCC is a 480-seater auditorium with multi-level seats with foldaway desks, facing the stage.

Murad told MindaNews that “meantime, sa SK Complex” (the SKCC) will be the venue of their sessions.

The oath taking may be over this week, the turnover from ARMM to BARMM done with by Monday, February 25, but the BTA members will soon find out that they may have to wait some time before they could find an office space. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)