Bangsamoro transition extension bill passed on 3rd reading; next hurdle: bicam conference

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Sept) –  By a vote of 187 -0-0 , the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed on third and final reading House Bll 10121 extending until 2025 the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by resetting the date of the first election of the 80-member Bangsamoro Parliament from May 2022 to May 2025.

The passage on third reading came 16 days before the filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2022 polls,  two days after the House passed the bill on second reading and one day after President Rodrigo Duterte issued the a certificate of urgency on the “necessity of the immediate enactment of House Bill 10121” to give the Bangsamoro transition government “sufficient time to complete the mandate, establish a strong bureaucracy, and enact foundational codes essential to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

Flag of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Last week, the Senate passed on third reading Senate Bill 2214. When it was passed on second reading on August 25, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was informed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that the certificate of urgency was “forthcoming.”  The certificate never came. The Senate passed the bill on third reading on September 6.

The two houses are expected to convene soon a bicameral conference committee to decide what version will prevail, particularly on Section 2 on which President will appoint the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body tasked to govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the transition period that, in accordance with Republic Act 11054 would have ended on June 30, 2022 but is being extended from June 30, 2022 to June 30, 2025.

The Senate version leaves it to the next President to appoint the BTA members during the extended period while the House leaves it to President Duterte to name the new BTA members that will govern the BARMM until June 30, 2025.

Section 2 of SB 2214 provides that “upon the expiration of the terms of the incumbent members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the President shall appoint the eighty members of the said BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected.”

President Rodrigo Duterte ends his six-year term at noon on June 30, 2022.

During the deliberations on August 25, senators from the majority and minority agreed to leave it to the next President to appoint the BTA members who will serve during the extended period.

HB 10121, which was approved by three committees, originally had the same Section 2  as the Senate’s. But 1st district Maguindanao Rep. Roonie Sinsuat proposed an amendment Monday night that the plenary approved, to read: “During the extension of the Transition Period, the BTA shall continue as the interim government  in the BARMM provided that upon approval of this act the President shall appoint the 80 new interim members of the BTA who shall hold office until the May 2025 elections where duly elected officials shall have qualified and assumed office.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)